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Concept Of Emotional Intelligence (EI)- High And Low EQ

“You gotta be intelligent to get anywhere in life”; is a commonly heard dialogue. But how intelligent should one be? Or what kind of intelligence is required?

The mainstream focus of the education system today is to cram up students’ heads with overwhelming information to scale up their so-called “intelligence”.

Sometimes the brightest of the students make terrible socializers and lack rationality. One might wonder how a person with such obvious intelligence is so irrational.

The answer is life has little to do with academic intelligence and has more to do with emotional intelligence.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence refers to one’s ability to recognize and monitor own emotions and others, to motivate themselves and manage their own emotions and that of others and exercise self-control.

The concept of emotional intelligence has been theorized very recently. Until then, people generally measured a person’s capability based on their Intelligence Quotient (IQ).

The narrative about intelligence started to take shift when psychologists like Howard Gardener redefined intelligence. He theorized that traditional intelligence fails to explain intelligence wholly as it comprises a wide array of cognitive skills.

He believed that there exist 9 different bit of intelligences Spatial, linguistic, naturalistic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, kinesthetic, musical, logical intelligence and Existentialism.

It was Stanley Greenspan, Peter Salovey and John Meyer explained the concept of emotional intelligence during the earliest stage and published their works on it. However, it became known worldwide when Daniel Goleman published a book called “Emotional Intelligence- why it matters more than IQ” in the year 1995. Since then, this has become a topic of important discussion and its theoretical assumptions are used across various fields far and wide.

Although there are various models of emotional intelligence, the one formulated by Goleman is the most widely employed theory.

Goleman assumes that emotional intelligence comprises five important components:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social skills

1. Self-awareness:

Self-awareness refers to the ability to know one’s own emotions, feelings, thoughts, strengths, weaknesses, preferences, values, beliefs etc. these individuals are well aware of what is happening inside and they always trust their gut to make decisions.

For example, Gabriel was aware of the fact that he had terrible anger issues. Although many had mentioned it earlier, he realized it himself when he introspected his reactions to many situations.

2. Self-regulation:

This refers to the ability to exercise control over the self and work towards shedding the old non-serving behaviors to more reformed behaviors.

Self-regulation also means being able to process emotions efficiently rather than overlooking them and letting them fester. This ensures that an individual is consistently improving and becoming a well-emotionally adjusted person.

For Gabriel, it was a hard pill to swallow because he believed his anger always had a justifiable reason. But he decided that it was high time he worked on his temper before ruining relationships.

3. Motivation:

The ability to push oneself beyond their perceived abilities and challenge themselves to reach their truest potential. A motivated individual would strive for success and motivate themselves to work towards their goals despite the many obstacles which come their way.

These individuals would have high control over their behaviors and are also capable of enduring delayed gratification. They transcend beyond external rewards and strive toward fulfilling meaningful purposes.

In the case of Gabriel, his main motivation to work on his anger was to sustain some of his closest people and not make them prey to his flaring temper.

4. Empathy:

Another assumption of Goleman’s theory of emotional intelligence is empathy which means the ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes. An emotionally intelligent person isn’t just aware of their own emotions but also that of others.

They try to understand the reactions elicited from people in regards to different behaviors and this knowledge helps them avoid being hurtful. They try to see the person through a non-judgmental eye and accept people for who they are. This particular skill will predict success in areas such as sales and politics.

Gabriel consciously tried to analyze how the closest ones around him might feel when he was losing his temper. He imagined himself in their place over and over again and understood how hurt they may feel.

5. Social skills:

This is the ability to interact with people, form and maintain meaningful bonds with people. A person with good social skills is capable of interacting well, efficiently building rapport, broadening their social network etc. These people usually are better communicators and so they are good at sustaining relationships.

As Gabriel chose to work on himself and his temper, he slowly started to realize how warm and kind people were and how his temper was jeopardizing the quality of his relationships.

The Models of Emotional Intelligence

The field of emotional intelligence recognizes three different models of EI such as the ability model, the mixed model, and the trait model. All these models come from emotional intelligence; however, they differ in definitions and attributions of emotional intelligence.

  1. Ability model: The first time Salovey and Meyers defined emotional intelligence, they assumed it to be a set of abilities such as perceiving emotions, using emotions, understanding emotions and managing emotions which are measured using an ability test and this comprises the ability model.
  2. Mixed model: Later, emotional intelligence was redefined to be a set of competencies, traits and skills such as self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills which are measured using self-report measures in the place of ability tests. Goleman’s five components of emotional intelligence come under the mixed model.
  3. Trait model: In this model, emotional intelligence is considered as a trait of personality rather than as a competencies or skills and this is in contrast to the assumptions of Goleman.

Gender Differences In Emotional Intelligence

Although emotional intelligence is a universal term applicable to both men and women, the emotional makeup of men and women is completely on the contrary side. Men and women have differing levels and natures of emotional intelligence.

Studies conducted to understand the gender differences in emotional intelligence show that women are generally higher in emotional intelligence compared to men. They ranked higher in self-awareness, empathy and interpersonal skills.

This conclusion has been reached because of the notion that women are more “feelings-oriented” individuals whereas men are “solution-oriented”. Women are more in touch with their emotional sides and feelings and of others with men.

For example, if one of the players gets injured during a match, women would usually drop the match and make sure the injured player is safe and ready to continue the match. On the other hand in a similar setting where men are involved, they are more likely to ask the injured person to move aside so that they can continue with the match.

However, there are some exceptional capabilities that men hold. They are self-confident, optimistic and efficient handlers of stress compared to women. They also can adapt themselves well to various situations.

Although both genders predominantly stay within the traditional roles assigned to each of them, there are instances where they show prospects of taking up other roles. Many men can also be as empathetic as an interpersonally sensible woman and women who are capable of handling stress as effectively as a man.

Application Of Emotional Intelligence In Recent Trends

One of the most upfront and sought-after skills in today’s world is emotional intelligence. The essence of emotional intelligence has well penetrated a plethora of areas bringing revolution everywhere.

1. Leadership:

Emotional Intelligence plays a key role in leadership. Various studies have proved the relationship between EQ and leadership. All the constructs of the Goleman theory such as self-awareness, empathy, motivation, self-regulation and social skills come in effectively handling various crises and in understanding the grievances of the common lot.

A study revealed that EQ is a good predictor of leadership effectiveness. These findings are utilized efficiently in the contemporary world and it has taken a complete shift in the dynamics of leadership as opposed to the autocratic one practised earlier.

2. Organizational growth:

EQ is especially taken up in many organizational settings. Employers are seeking to recruit candidates who seem to score high on this measure as this would determine how well a person would function within the organization.

According to numerous studies, EQ is positively correlated to many aspects such as job satisfaction, job performance and team cohesiveness.

3. Academic success:

Another area of research which has yet again proven the efficacy of EQ is academics. Although this area may undoubtedly seem to qualify IQ more than EQ, studies exhibit that a high emotional quotient does have a positive relationship with academic success.

4. Marketing and Advertisements

Advertisers use emotional intelligence time and again to grab people’s attention and earn a good impression. Most of the advertisements today are not informational but emotional.

When advertisers use emotional intelligence, they are aware of what and how emotion should be portrayed to elicit a similar reaction from the audience. Humor, sex, logic are some of the most frequently used strategies in advertisements.

For example, one of the most watched ads was a Thai life insurance ad called “Unsung hero”. This advertisement sparked so many conversations and shares.

Therefore, it is right to say that emotional intelligence weighs higher in scale compared to IQ because “book smart” is a want whereas “street smart” is a need.

Tools To Measure Emotional Intelligence Quotient


One of the most widely used scales to measure EQ is MSCEIT which stands for Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence-Test. As the name suggests, this test was designed by Mayer and Salovey to measure emotional intelligence quotient.

This tool is based on the ability model of EI. It is designed to measure the overall EI score, 2 area scores and 4 branch scores. Overall, they would be called Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EIQ).

The two areas of this scale are Experiential Emotional Intelligence (EEIQ) and Strategic Emotional Intelligence (SEIQ). These two areas are further divided into 4 branches; out of which 2 belong to EEIQ and the other 2 belong to SEIQ.

The two branches of EEIQ are:

  • Perceiving emotions refers to the ability to recognize emotions in one’s self and others.
  • Facilitating thoughts is the ability to generate certain emotions and reason with these emotions.

The other two branches of SEIQ are:

  • Understanding emotions are to be able to recognize the emotions and their patterns and the ability to analyze from where they spring up.
  • Managing emotions refer to the ability to manage and regulate emotions efficiently in oneself and others. For example, the capacity to calm down when angry.

2. ESCI:

Another well-known tool to measure emotional intelligence is called as Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI). This tool strives to quantify the emotional and social competency of an individual.

ESCI identifies 12 competencies which are categorized under 4 important abilities such as self-awareness, social awareness, self-management and relationship management.

Under self-awareness, there is

  • Emotional self-awareness is the ability to understand one’s own emotions and that of others.

Under self-management, there are 4 competencies such as

  • Emotional self-control: The ability to exercise self-control and keep impulses in check.
  • Achievement orientation: This refers to the drive to achieve personal goals and strive towards reaching excellence.
  • Positive outlook: The tendency to have a positive view about the self, others and the world.
  • Adaptability: The extent to which a person can be flexible and can efficiently adapt themselves to changes and to new situations.

Social awareness includes two competencies such as:

  • Empathy: It is to be able to pick up cues about people’s feelings and emotions and act accordingly.
  • Organizational awareness: To be able to read a group’s emotional dynamics and learn to flow along.

Relationship management ability comprises 5 competencies such as:

  • Influence: It is the capability to have a positive impact on others and gain their support.
  • Coach and mentor: To be able to provide feedback for others and facilitate long-term learning in others.
  • Conflict management: It is the competency to be able to resolve conflict situations and disagreements tactfully and reach a common ground.
  • Inspirational leadership: This is the ability to inspire and motivate others to perform their tasks proficiently.
  • Teamwork: To be able to work with a team cohesively towards a shared goal by sharing responsibilities and contributing to the team.

Strengths And Downsides Of High And Low EQ

There is a vast difference between someone who has high and low EQ. Let’s take the example of two friends Molly and Jim. Although they are friends, the way they respond to various situations differs poles apart.

Molly always seems a bit confused and lacks knowledge about herself whereas Jim knows himself well. Molly can sometimes be impulsive in her behaviors but Jim is always strategic about everything. Jim knows how to push himself to reach his goals despite the obstacles he faces but Molly gives up very soon.

When it comes to interactions, Jim can sustain relationships well but Molly is a little socially awkward. Jim is very selective with the way he treats people and always imagines himself to be there on the other side. Although Molly holds no negative intentions, she’s sometimes addressed outright.

From this example, it is simple to find out that Jim has a higher emotional quotient because he is aware of himself, knows how to motivate himself and can also maintain interpersonal relationships well. He also empathizes with the people around him. However, Molly seems to be struggling with these competencies.

But Being Emotionally Intelligent Is Always Good? Could It Have Any Downfalls?

In the case of Jim and Molly, although Jim seemed to have a higher EQ, Molly has better creativity and a flare for innovativeness. Although Jim is the dream student or employee, he may not be as welcoming to giving and receiving negative feedback as Molly. His emotional sensitivity makes it hard for him to digest negative remarks. Molly is better persuasive than Jim as she can put forth logical arguments to substantiate her points.

Another competency which molly seems to hold is her risk-taking attitude whereas Jim seems to be on the safer side and make choices that aren’t too threatening. A calculated risk is essential sometimes as that helps in taking any venture a step ahead.

Molly is better capable of making strong decisions although it goes against the status quo for the higher good whereas Jim is more likely to lay low considering the demands of people.

So, we can conclude that although EI is a very essential skill to have in possession, striking a balance could be as much important.

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