Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage our emotions in positive ways. With good levels of Emotional Intelligence we are able to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. When we have high levels of emotional intelligence we are able to recognise our own emotional state and the emotional states of others. We can use this understanding to relate and engage better with other people, form healthier relationships, achieve greater success at work, and lead more fulfilling lives. The term Emotional Intelligence was first coined in 1990 by the American psychologists Peter Salovey and John D Mayer. They defined Emotional Intelligence as “….the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”.
Salovey and Mayer proposed a model that identified four different factors of Emotional Intelligence:
The first step in understanding emotions is to accurately perceive them. In many cases, this might involve understanding nonverbal signals such as body language and facial expressions.
The next step involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity. Emotions help prioritise what we pay attention and react to; we respond emotionally to things that grab our attention.
The emotions that we perceive can carry a wide variety of meanings. If someone is expressing angry emotions, the observer needs to interpret the cause of their anger and what it might mean. For example, if your boss is acting angry, it might mean that he is dissatisfied with your work; or it could be because he got a speeding ticket on his way to work that morning or that he's been arguing with his partner.
The ability to manage emotions effectively is a key part of emotional intelligence. Regulating emotions, responding appropriately and responding to the emotions of others are all important aspect of emotional management.