• Antony Alex Irungu

Emotional Intelligence: What it is and Why you Need it

What is Emotional Intelligence

Often, we hear of employers looking for emotionally intelligent employees and individuals looking for emotionally intelligent partners in a relationship. But what is emotional intelligence? By definition, it's the ability to identify, understand, express, and manage your emotions as well as the emotions of others. Human beings are emotional creatures by nature in that their emotions or feelings drive their behaviors. We are motivated, guided, led, and controlled by our emotions. We make choices and decisions based on our emotions.

Elements of Emotional Intelligence

According to Daniel Goleman, considered the father of emotional intelligence, there are five emotional intelligence elements.

Self-Awareness: The intentional knowledge of your feelings, motives, desires, and character. Self-awareness is about knowing who you are in terms of your values, attitude, principles, beliefs, vision, and personality. It is about being conscious of where you are, where you are going, and what you stand for. It is about recognizing your stressors and triggers. It is about understanding your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis). Simply put, self-awareness is being in tune with yourself.

Self-Control: This is the ability to control your emotions and behaviors during difficult situations. It's the ability to remain calm during a crisis, refraining yourself from making rushed or emotional decisions, not allowing yourself to compromise your values and principles, and withholding yourself from attacking others verbally or physically during heated exchanges.

Motivation: Self-motivation is the ability to drive yourself to create an idea, take action, complete tasks, and achieve your goals. Self-motivation is the fuel that keeps you going. There are two types of motivation. Extrinsic motivation whereby a person is motivated by external rewards like fame, money, and praise from others. Intrinsic motivation whereby a person is motivated by internal rewards, purpose, happiness, and fulfillment.

Empathy: This is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It's putting yourself in the other person's shoes or position to understand better what the person is going through. Empathy should never be confused with sympathy, feeling sorry, or pitful for another person's misfortunes.

Social skills: They enable you to interact, communicate, and coexist with others. Human beings are social creatures, and social skills are essential in creating and promoting interpersonal relationships. The skills include active listening, verbal communication skills, non-verbal communication skills (body language), conflict resolution, persuasion, and respect.


Book-Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman


Website-Emotional Intelligence in Leadership: Learning How to Be More Aware

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