Why is it so important to have emotional intelligence?
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. I have read that emotional intelligence can be learned and strengthened while some claim it is an inborn characteristic.
Since 1990, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer have been the leading researchers on emotional intelligence. In their influential article, “Emotional Intelligence” they defined emotional intelligence as, “a 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” (1990).
The Four Elements of Emotional Intelligence
Salovey and Mayer proposed a model that identified four different factors of emotional intelligence: the perception of emotion, the ability to reason using emotions, the ability to understand emotion, and the ability to manage emotions.
1. Perceiving Emotions: The first step in understanding emotions is to accurately perceive them. In many cases, this might involve reading nonverbal signals such as body language and facial expressions.
2. Reasoning With Emotions: The next step involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity. Emotions help prioritize what we pay attention and react to; we respond emotionally to things that garner our attention.
3. Understanding Emotions: The emotions that we perceive can carry a wide variety of meanings. If someone is expressing angry feelings, the observer must 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 fighting with his wife.
4. Managing Emotions: 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.
According to Salovey and Mayer, the four branches of their model are, “arranged from more fundamental psychological processes to higher, more psychologically integrated processes. For example, the lowest level branch involves the (relatively) simple abilities of perceiving and expressing emotion. In contrast, the highest level branch affects the conscious, reflective regulation of emotion” (1997).
So there you have what emotional intelligence is, now here is why I think it is so important and what we need to do to elevate its importance in children and adults.
When we develop the skills of emotional intelligence, we are setting our own identity and labeling it in our minds for future uses and engagements. In other words, we are becoming whom we have identified in our minds and what we want to become and make of ourselves. My belief is that expectations are the precursor of all thoughts and actions. Having emotional intelligence becomes the crucial tool we use to label what perspective we will develop and into the actions we take. Therefore, emotional intelligence is critical to our development as human beings. It is paramount we teach expectations and emotional intelligence to our children. The world we live in would be a much better place if expectations and EI were taught in our school systems. Children would grow into being emotional powerhouses capable of solving many of the issues facing humanity in the future.
Beasley, K. (1987) “The Emotional Quotient.” Mensa Magazine – United Kingdom Edition
Gardner, H. (1975) The Shattered Mind, New York: Knopf.
Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam.
Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., & Caruso, D. R. (2000). Models of emotional intelligence. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.). Handbook of Intelligence (pp. 396-420). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Payne, W.L. (1985). A study of emotion: developing emotional intelligence; self-integration; relating to fear, pain and desire (theory, structure of reality, problem-solving, contraction/expansion, tuning in/coming out/letting go). A Doctoral Dissertation. Cincinnati, OH: The Union For Experimenting Colleges And Universities
Salovey, P., & Mayer, J. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, cognition, and personality, 9(3), 185-211.