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What is Emotional Intelligence and How to Improve It?

Source | Zoey Miller |

A Brief History of Our Understanding of Intelligence

It was once thought that intelligence meant intellect, and only intellect. Intellect wasn’t merely the primary focus, it was the only focus, and methods of improving the intellect were eagerly sought. Dr. Samuel Renshaw and Alfred Korzybski are two of the pioneers who worked to find methods of training people to improve their mental facilities. Their work was controversial, and remains so to this day.

In 1983, Dr. Howard Gardner proposed a theory of multiple intelligences, in which he identified several different types of intelligence:

  • logical-mathematical
  • visual-spatial
  • verbal-linguistic
  • musical-rhythmic
  • bodily-kinesthetic
  • interpersonal
  • intrapersonal
  • naturalistic

He has since suggested adding both existential and moral intelligence to the list. This theory was widely but not universally accepted, and is still being debated today.

Emotional Intelligence was discussed in a few academic papers, but the idea didn’t really gain much traction until 1995, when Daniel Goleman published Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ (Source), which became a bestseller. There has been much debate in academia, but the idea was enthusiastically adopted by many in the business and psychological communities.

Differing Definitions of Emotional Intelligence

At present, there are three schools of thought on how to define emotional intelligence.

    • The Trait Model, which focuses on your ability to recognize emotions in yourself accurately and express them clearly to others.
    • The Ability Model, which spotlights your ability to perceive emotions in yourself and others, harness them to advance toward your goals, understand the nuances of emotions, and manage them. This is the ability to steer yourself and others toward the emotional state that you desire.
    • The Mixed Model, introduced by Goleman, recognizes a collection of skills that are all fundamental parts.
    • These are:


    • Self-awareness, the ability to recognize your own emotions.
    • Self-regulation, the ability to shift your emotional state towards the condition you want to experience.
    • Social Skill, managing relationships with the people around you effectively.
    • Empathy, understanding other peoples’ emotions and considering the effect your decisions may have on them.
    • Motivation, your focus on success; not achieving goals, but being effective for the experience of competence.

Goleman refers to the specific skills as emotional competencies, and points out that they’re not just innate traits, but skills that can be learned and improved upon. I agree with him in this, while accepting the usefulness of the other models.

Emotional Intelligence Is Not The Same as IQ or Personality


Emotional intelligence is distinct from logical reasoning ability or linguistic skill, which are what an IQ test evaluates. It’s easy for us to see that some people, especially someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, can be remarkably good at solving logic problems, and yet have to put extraordinary effort into understanding social customs, interpreting social cues, or managing their own emotional responses. The two skill sets are not related, and aren’t always, or even frequently, correlated.

Personality is generally considered to be the collection of preferences, habits of behavior, character, and temperament that combine to make us what we are. This is all of the factors that make us individuals. These traits are a combination of innate tendencies that are a result of brain chemistry, trained habits acquired from early training and our social environment, and traits we have learned intentionally since childhood.

This is not the same thing as emotional intelligence. Your emotional intelligence is a central factor in your personality, but it is not the whole of your personality.

For further details Read On……

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