In 1995, Daniel Goleman came out with his groundbreaking book Emotional Intelligence. In it he listed five character traits and competencies that are at the heart of being emotionally intelligent. They are: knowing one’s emotions, managing your emotions effectively, motivating yourself, recognizing the emotions of others and handling relationships with others well.
Abbreviated EQ (emotional quotient) or EI, it rivaled our culture’s long-standing definition of what constitutes intelligence, always previously viewed as IQ (intelligence quotient). Since then, we have acquired dramatically expanded definitions of intelligence, including SQ (social intelligence) and RQ (romantic intelligence).
Although your IQ might get you into a top-flight university, your emotional, social and romantic intelligence has far more to do with your happiness and success in life than your IQ ever will. In that spirit, I would like to outline a way for you to evaluate how you could improve your emotional intelligence.
You are emotionally intelligent if you:
- Have good people skills. You get along with people most of the time. You are able to communicate effectively with people in a friendly way, and you can work collaboratively as part of a team. You are able to foster trust and respect with others, and you are skilled at negotiating and effectively resolving conflicts, disagreements and disputes.
- Have satisfying, reciprocal and successful relationships with other people. You are able to nurture your relationships—and nurture other people.
- Know your own feelings, and can name your emotions as they occur.
- Operate with honesty, integrity and ethics. You live upright, and you do the right thing the vast majority of the time.
- Can calm yourself when you’re feeling hurt, angry, jealous, fearful, anxious or depressed—without needing to drink, use drugs or otherwise self-medicate.
- Are able to take responsibility for your actions, behaviors and your words. You hold yourself accountable, and other people can also hold you accountable without you becoming defensive, angry, withdrawn or vindictive.
- Are able to recognize other people’s emotions and needs. You are not so absorbed in yourself and your own world that you are unaware of or non-responsive to the feelings or needs of others, and you can be compassionate when needed.
- Are able to consistently recognize your own emotions and needs, and you can effectively advocate for yourself and/or take care of yourself.
- Exercise self-control. You can focus on the tasks in front of you and resist distractions. You can also handle alterations, changes and new ideas without becoming unglued or defensive. Further, you can take charge of yourself in order to avoid unhealthy habits, addictions or cravings.
- Are resilient. You can bounce back after a setback, a rejection, a misfortune or a failure—without holding a lot of bitterness. You are confident in yourself and in your ability to persevere, and you go after the goals that matter to you, even if you have to overcome difficult or unpleasant obstacles.