Psychologists Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer have defined emotional intelligence “…as the subset of social intelligence that involves 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.”
The concept of Emotional Intelligence, EI, is a more nuanced field of study than can be covered in a short blog post. I can only touch base with the general definition as has been presented in popular books and articles. If this subject is one you want to investigate, there are good sources on the Web and at public libraries you can use for your own edification. My disclaimer includes the reminder that I’m only a curious blogger and not a licensed health-care professional.
One review in the journal Annual Psychology says higher EI is associated with these factors:
Better social relations for children and adolescents as far as less anti-social behavior and good classroom behavior.
Good social relations for adults that relates to balanced interpersonal relationships including few problems with aggression. This is enabled by positive self-perception and good social skills.
Having optimal intimate and family relationships.
Higher achievement in academics, taking into account the student’s particular IQ. This translates into the work environment as far as getting along with coworkers and developing good negotiating skills.
Higher personal perception of self-esteem and satisfaction with life. This includes good health habits and choices.
High EI people are regarded by other people as more pleasant, empathic, and socially skilled.
Finally, people with high EI tend to have a good, realistic understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. They make decisions by considering both emotion and reason. High EI enables effective self-actualization.
Science journalist Daniel Goleman states, “Emotional intelligence begins to develop in the earliest years. All the small exchanges children have with their parents, teachers, and with each other carry emotional messages.”
While assessing one’s own EI, we can take Goleman’s observation and use it to remember and process our own childhood experiences. How did we respond to various people and their behavior? Did we receive positive support and have pleasant interactions with them? How can we reinforce the positive support? Do we need to correct any strong criticism of our behavior we received?
In other words, can we use introspection in constructive ways? Can this be done without forming unrealistic self-images that are too positive or negative nor perfectionist? Can we do this exercise without arousing animosity and resentments towards ourselves and others? In a nutshell, high EI means developing the ability to manage one’s mental state for an optimal life.
In my experience, working to develop and maintain some form of EI is an ongoing process. From time to time, I like to research new writings and findings about Emotional Intelligence. I am a work in progress.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes actor/producer David Caruso. “It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence. It is not the triumph of heart over head. It is the unique intersection of both.”