Collage Photo of Woman

Emotional Intelligence (EQ): What It Is, Improving Emotional Intelligence, and More

Emotional intelligence (EI), otherwise known as emotional quotient (EQ), is a person’s ability to process their own emotions along with the others’ emotions. Through a comprehensive comparison of cognitive intelligence or ‘intelligence quotient’ (IQ)  and EQ by Mark Manson, “the same way your general intelligence (IQ) is a measurement of your ability to process information and come to sound decisions, your emotional intelligence (EQ) is your ability to process emotions—both others’ and your own—and come to sound decisions.” That being said, a person’s emotional intelligence quotient is similar to a skill or personality trait in the sense that it can mature and evolve over time with awareness and active consideration.

The prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is the part of a human’s frontal lobe that processes personality expression, decision making, and social behavior, is known to influence emotional awareness and overall emotional skills. One study reports that the PFC demonstrates how emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence play different roles but are “complementary” to one another and overall “provide a more complete understanding of human behavior.” This goes to show that having a high IQ does not represent a person’s overall intelligence and that undertaking emotional intelligence training helps many to become more well-rounded, intelligent people.

Tip: When Daniel Goleman unraveled his ideas on emotional intelligence, he explained that it stemmed from Howard Gardner’s model of multiple intelligence. To learn more about Gardner’s model of multiple intelligence and the origins of Goleman’s emotional intelligence model, visit this link.

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important to Understand?

In order to live a balanced life, it’s important for a person to work on and comprehend what emotional intelligence is and how it functions for them day-to-day. While it’s important for a person to have and pursue strong intellectual ability, it’s their EI that aids their learning, motivation, mentorship, etc. the inspires their IQ. According to the experts at HelpGuide, “IQ and EQ exist in tandem and are most effective when they build off one another” for they both impact a person’s life in many ways.

The Impacts of Emotional Intelligence in Daily Life

EI or EQ are known to impact a person’s life in nearly every way possible, ranging from physical health to mental health to performance rates, etc. Comprehending how EI affects someone’s everyday actions is key for a person to maintain their overall health and wellbeing.

  • Performance in the Workplace: EI is what allows humans to navigate the various social settings a workplace offers. Developing EQ skills contributes to a person’s motivation to lead and influence their peers, act as an empathetic co-worker, and meet set goals. A soft skill is otherwise known as a “personal [attribute], personality [trait], and communication [ability]” needed to succeed at work. Due to the workplace requiring social skills in order to express ideas and function as a team, soft skills are becoming more valuable to employers than ever before. This is because with the development of a strong EI comes the production of incredible soft skills or interpersonal skills that allow employees to work well individually and with their peers.
  • Physical Health: Not having the ability to handle emotions such as stress, conflict, and other tough social situations, takes a large strike on a person’s physical health. In fact, uncontrolled stress is known to “[raise] blood pressure, suppresses the immune system, increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, contributes to infertility, and speeds up the aging process.” Learning how to control difficult emotions such as stress, anger, grief, etc. boosts their EQ while lessening the likelihood that critical health issues will occur.
  • Mental Health: Having low emotional intelligence makes room for mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, to creep into a person’s life. Furthermore, not being able to process the emotional cues of others, weakens a person’s ability to develop strong relationships which may lead to loneliness and greater vulnerability to mental health issues.
  • Building Relationships: Having high emotional intelligence allows a person to create stronger relationships with anyone ranging from their boss to their best friend. EQ permits a person to recognize the feelings of others and pick up on emotional cues, leading to clearer communication and healthier relationships overall.

Emotional Intelligence Components

EI is broken up into four different domains and then further divided into twelve emotional competencies. Understanding the domains and their competencies allows a person to analyze what eq skill or skills they might be lacking in or need to improve upon in order to build their emotional intelligence. The four domains are:

  • Self-Awareness: This refers to one’s ability to recognize their own emotions and how they affect their daily thoughts, actions, decisions, etc. Self-awareness is further broken down into one competency: emotional self-awareness.
  • Self-Management: This domain refers to how one is managing emotions. Someone with a higher emotional intelligence has the ability to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, process emotions in a healthy manner, take initiative, and adapt to change. Self-management is further broken down into the EI competencies of emotional self-control, adaptability, achievement orientation, and positive outlook.
  • Social Awareness: This domain refers to a person’s ability to understand the emotional needs and concerns of others, recognize social cues, and feel comfortable in a social setting. Social awareness is broken down into two of the competencies: empathy and organizational awareness.
  • Relationship Management: This domain refers to a person’s ability to maintain a healthy relationship through clear communication and conflict management while also having the capacity to influence others and work well in a team. Relationship management is broken down into five of the competencies: influence, coach and mentor, conflict management, teamwork, and inspirational leadership.

Developing Emotional Intelligence

When a person understands what emotional intelligence is, it’s easier for them to focus on developing throughout their everyday life. Read through the tips below to discover how to include EI development in everyday life and activities.

  • Practice Mindfulness: It’s crucial for an emotionally intelligent person to practice mindfulness and self-awareness so they can recognize their own emotions, what’s causing them, and how to resolve it. It’s important to make room for meditation or free thought in everyday life in order for a person to focus on their emotional state.
    • Example: Person A is experiencing headaches, irritation, and lack of sleep. In order to process what’s causing this emotion, Person A plan’s a drive each night for 30 minutes so they can think freely. During this drive, Person A realizes they’ve just undertaken a new project at work and has been working overtime nearly every day to make sure it gets done properly. Due to this new project, Person A has been feeling a lot of stress from work leading to emotions and issues such as irritation, headaches, and lack of sleep. Now that Person A has explored their own emotions and where they are coming from, they are able to resolve that feeling of stress.
  • Emotion Management: Our emotions trigger attention toward different aspects of our lives that are causing us to feel a certain way. Depending on what the situation is and how someone is currently perceiving emotion, it’s common for a person to decide whether or not an emotion is important to process. However, assessing each emotion accurately can improve a person’s EQ and benefit their life. When being pulled toward a certain emotion, evaluate if the reaction given is appropriate, and then act accordingly. According to Mark Manson, “There’s no such thing as a “good” or “bad” emotion—there are only “good” and “bad” reactions to your emotions.”
    • Example: Often perceived as a negative emotion, when feeling anger, a person may be inclined to act destructively, making hurtful comments to others, harming their own self-confidence, etc. However, anger can be a good emotion if the emotional reaction is managed properly. Anger can drive motivation, productivity, action against injustice, etc. Therefore, when an emotion bubbles up, pay attention to what reaction spews out, and assess whether that’s appropriate or not, in order to channel emotions accurately.
  • Recognizing Others’ Emotions: A crucial part of practicing emotional intelligence and building healthier relationships throughout life is by acknowledging others’ feelings. This can be done by a variety of things such as practicing empathy, actively listening, engaging in conversation through body language, etc. Truly hearing out what someone else has to say and attempting to understand other people’s emotions, makes room for connection, bonding, and growth in whatever relationship (family, friend, romantic, professional, etc.).
  • Understand What You Value: One of the most important parts for a person developing emotional intelligence is figuring out what they value in life. Values are the base that builds the rest of the actions, conversations, relationships, etc. that we experience in life. Therefore, “you have to first be clear about what you truly value because that’s where your emotional energy will be directed.”

Emotional Intelligence Tests

There are a variety of different emotional intelligence tests available to those who are looking to gauge their emotional intelligence level. The two most common models are the EI ability model known as the MSCEIT and the trait EI or mixed EI model known as the ESCI 360. According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), an ability EI model test is centered around viewing EI as an ability and correlating it highly with IQ. The HBR defines the trait EI or mixed EI model as a “comprehensive 360-degree assessment” because it collects anonymous opinions from the test-takers colleagues and loved ones in order to best assess their EI strengths and weaknesses. Taking an EI test is similar to an IQ test as it asks wide-ranging questions that assist in evaluating the final EI score of the test-taker. Taking an emotional intelligence test in any capacity aids the test-taker in understanding their emotional intelligence skills and where they can improve.


Katee’s passion for writing and fascination for language has forever guided her path in life.

Keep up with Katee on Instagram and