Emotional Intelligence-What it exactly is?

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Let me tell you some of my own stories/experiences-

I did my engineering from a place called Pen and we were 3 friends staying in the same room. This was a private college with a fee of close to around Rs.10k per annum (whereas in govt colleges it was only a few hundred), which was a bomb for most students’ parents in those days( around 1985) and we all were very conscious about the kind of money our parents were spending on us and some guilt as well for not studying enough and not getting into a govt college.

Me and friends would order of just 2 tiffins for dinner and share the food, so as to save on the money and reduce the burden on our parents. Once I had late practical session in college and got late returning back to the room as I studied till 10.00 PM in the college library. I was not too sure how much food would be spared for me by my partners Joe Anthony and Denis D’Souza. I thought they would keep me only little as I was not there at the time of dinner with them.

The fire of hunger in the stomach was at its peak as I came back to the room and was anxious about the food. But to my pleasant surprise, these two friends of mine, in fact kept slightly more portion of the total tiffin, which they both could have easily finished off.

The other memory is of my niece, Chinar was just about 3 years old at that time when I happen to visit my elder brother’s place in Pune. There was some sweet dish that my sister in law had prepared for the lunch and my brother was yet to come home from the hospital. (He’s a doctor by profession). She told me to finish off the remaining portion of the sweet dish as she had already reserved some portion in the refrigerator for my brother. Not knowing this, my niece immediately said “Baba la thev thodishi” (Keep some portion for my dad).

Simply put- in both the incidences above, Joe, Denis, and Chinar had shown very high levels of Emotional Intelligence. They were able to understand how the other person would feel at that point in time. Did they know anything about this term called Emotional Intelligence? No. This term was perhaps not even discovered at that time. While some people are naturally emotionally intelligent right from birth, most others need to really work to develop this skill.

Before we get into the details of EI, it is worth-while understanding who first coined this term. Well, it was the duo of John Mayer and Peter Salovey of Yale University way back in 1990. It was more popularised by another psychologist and author Daniel Goleman when he wrote his book- Emotional Intelligence- Why it can be better than IQ? created havoc and was the international bestseller in no time. He defined Emotional Intelligence as “EI is that part of intelligence which gives the ability to be able to be aware of our own emotions, and the emotions of others and using this awareness to manage ourselves and our relationships.”  What I would put it as much as I understand it “It is the skill when you are connected with self and in full knowledge of how you feel about your feelings at any given point of time (which depends on any triggering incident most times) and how you reply to different situations, aware of your tendencies. Emotional Intelligence is all about being able to pick the emotions of others based on which you decide your actions, behaviors, and responses to make people around you feel more at ease and manage better relationships with them. Emotional Intelligence is defined by an entity called EQ (Emotional quotient) just as the cognitive ability is defined by the term IQ (Intelligence Quotient)

While Emotional Intelligence is a Hugh subject to be discussed in a single blog, we have just got an overview of it. It is also worth-while understanding what Emotional Intelligence is NOT. Some points:

  1. EI is not being nice with people that too, all the people, all the time.
  2. EI is not curbing or suppressing your emotions. In fact, it is getting aware of and managing them.
  3. EI is not remaining calm and quiet all the time- there is no harm in getting angry where you have to and in the right proportion, but with the full awareness that “I am getting angry” e.g if there is a road rage where you are unfortunately involved with no fault of yours, you cannot remain calm if the other person is throwing some blows on you. You have to get angry to retaliate and save yourself.
  • EI is also not about being submissive or allowing yourself to be taken advantage of.
  • EI is not about caging yourself in some toxic relationship or continuing a bond that you feel is not mutually enjoyable, respectful, and meaningful.
  • EI is not a fad or a trend. It existed eternally, the key here is recognizing it, developing those skills and putting them in practice.

Now, having understood something about Emotional Intelligence and what it is not, let me list out (Based on my experiences) some of the characteristics of people with high emotional intelligence:

  1. They are less impulsive in their responses against any triggers and think before doing/talking anything. These people are aware of what their behaviors can result in and avoid getting into situations where they have to regret their actions. Their thoughts, words, and actions are congruent with each other.
  2. These people understand quickly the emotions of other people and alter the way in which they talk to them, practice restraint in a given situation and often diffuse the situation by calming the person and suggesting better logical alternatives.
  3. They are honest with themselves and the people around them.
  4. They have a strong value system to guide them in all their decisions (especially in tough, confusing and tempting situations).
  5. They always think from the other person’s perspective and avoid judging/labeling people.
  6. They are always ready to help and since they can feel their own emotions, they are sensitive to other’s emotions.
  7. Due to the above qualities, these people are more likable and are able to make quick friends, start, build, nurture strong and meaningful relationships, both in personal and professional life.

There are five major realms of Emotional Intelligence viz. Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation (or Self-management), Motivation, Empathy, and Social Awareness.

We will be discussing each of these skills in more detail in my subsequent blogs.

Coming up next… How is EQ different from IQ?

Anyone can get angry-that is easy. But to be angry with the right people, in the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way- that is not easy.                                                                                                     -Aristotle

14 thoughts on “Emotional Intelligence-What it exactly is?”

  1. A good piece of information put in simple words.
    Thank you.
    Waiting eagerly to gather more information on the above subject.

  2. Wow that’s one topic I always wanted to know more about. Loved the info you shared on your blog. I am waiting for techniques, strategies or principles that one can use to enhance the skill of EI.

  3. Very beautifully explained and in simple language. Also got a quick revision of the Last workshop. Thanks for your efforts Shrikant.

  4. Very useful information in this era where EQ should be placed before IQ. Besides, when one strugggles to reach a goal, success that follows becomes a worthy trophy.

  5. Very relevant in the current era where EQ should preceed IQ. Success after a struggle always comes with great pride of achievement. Keep up your good work!!

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