Emotional intelligence is generally described as an ability to realize, understand, recognize and manage our own emotions as well as the emotions of other people in our environment.

The important part of emotional intelligence is that it’s not only related to perception, but also to the ability to influence our own and other people’s emotions, so that we may produce a change in the behavior or atmosphere.

The term was popularized in 1996 book Emotional Intelligence written by Daniel Goleman.

Since it became popularized, it has been suggested that EQ or an emotional intelligence quotient may even be more important than IQ (intelligence quotient).

Intelligence, in general, has many definitions of which only a few are related to the ability to adapt, perceive, overcome problems and acquire and use knowledge.

Be that as it may, since our survival depends on functioning as a group, all of our capacities depend on the fluctuations that our behavior causes in the social context.

In other words, without EQ to back it up, IQ is of little worth.

Since emotional intelligence is a newer term than general intelligence, it’s far more difficult to assess, although there are many different methods of evaluating general intelligence as well, and none of them are a perfect tool of assessment.

Many positions in the social and business hierarchy depend on IQ assessments of certified psychologists as well as accomplishments of an individual, especially those achievements which are deemed to directly stem from an individual being highly intelligent.

Emotional intelligent people are the perfect candidates for leadership and the positions on the top of the ladder.

However, capacity without hard work is a mere waste of potential.

Until recently, the formula for success and consequently a perfect entrepreneur was hard potential + hard work, but all of that is in vain if one lacks in EQ because his or her deeds won’t have a wholesome positive impact on society.

We’ve prepared a list of traits of emotional intelligence so you can check whether you need to work on some aspects of it or not.


Emotional intelligence is generally what allows you to balance your experiences, behavior as well as your actions and reactions with other people’s behavior, expectations, and characters.

Knowing how others feel and what makes them tick is important, but it’s not useful if you don’t know what drives and influences your own behavior.

Having a clear picture of yourself and knowing exactly how and what you feel is what helps you set your goals straight and not shoot to miss.

It also allows you to get to know your strengths and your weaknesses which is priceless in any form of social interaction.

Knowing where you stand is the only thing that allows you to move or, in other words, self-awareness is the only thing that allows you to evolve.

Without knowing about your insufficiencies, how will you ever account for them?

Did you ever catch yourself wondering about why aren’t your social or entrepreneurial endeavors coming to fruition? It may be because you’ve misevaluated yourself.

Self-awareness is basically a perception of yourself and your environment. In order to be self-aware, you also need to be aware of others as well as the way that others influence you and vice versa.

You are always drenched in the environmental and the social context so everything that you are is affected by that context. Being aware of the bigger picture is a prerequisite to self-awareness. No man is an island.

For you to perceive yourself as accurately as you can, you need to employ as many faculties as you can and be highly analytical.

The keyword here is introspection or the ability to examine and observe yourself as objectively as you can while at the same time examining your subjective inner processes as emotions and thoughts.

A similar way to describe the process that leads to self-awareness is critical thinking.

Critical thinking is the basis of philosophical and scientific reasoning which is founded on the spirit of examination.

To put it differently, to be a critical thinker you have to be willing to bring everything to question and analyze phenomena (including yourself) from a plethora of different perspectives including other people’s perspectives.

You do all that with the purpose of getting to a neutral, precise and unbiased conclusion about the object of your examination which in this case is you yourself.

When you know what makes you tick, it’s that much easier to obtain it and function properly.

A good thing to do is to keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Analyze everything. Ask as many questions as you can.

If you get into a quarrel, try looking at things from your opponent’s perspective.

If you haven’t been so self-critical recently and if you’re for any reason unpopular, it might be because you lack self-awareness which would propel you towards personal development and the solution for your social problems.


Just being aware of yourself is worth nothing if you don’t put that awareness to use somehow.

Enter self-regulation.

Self-regulation or self-discipline is the ability to stay in tracks in times when controlling yourself gets hard.

The ability to self-regulate develops later in life and is a trait of a mature person.

Children can often be self-centered and disregard other people’s needs and emotions. They are guided by the Freudian pleasure principle and react instinctively.

An important feature of being an adult is the ability to restrain one’s instincts and articulate desires and actions in a more effective fashion.

An infant lacks psycho-motor capacities to restrain itself. That’s why children piss their pants.

Other than that, their minds are not yet fully developed so as to grasp the bigger social picture and that is why children can’t wait to get what they want even at the expense of their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others around them as well.

Imagine a society consisting of such infantile individuals who don’t know how to postpone their needs.  It would collapse in no time.

That’s why, in time, we develop a sense of other people’s internal states as well as our own. Emotional intelligent people pay close attention to the way their actions affect other people’s inner lives.

It’s the inner lives that propel the external stimuli and emotionally intelligent people know that so they pay attention to subtleties such as other people’s way of thinking, which in turn makes their way of thinking more versatile.

Have you ever been called selfish, narcissistic, egocentric or such?

Then you might need to consider developing your self-regulation with respect to other people’s moods.

It would benefit you not just socially, but psychologically as well to be able to restrain your negative and destructive discharges and emotions.

Being aware of them is one thing, but managing them is a different thing even though they’re closely connected.

People with emotional intelligence manage their actions and emotions for their own gain as well as not to inflict damage to other people’s feelings.

The statistics below show the higher rates of success of individuals who show the capacity to self-regulate.

If you often find yourself bursting, acting out, reacting impulsively or procrastinating then you should enhance your self-disciplinary skills.

A good thing to do is to make a schedule. Schedule fewer tasks so as to increase proficiency!

Practice calming yourself. Take a few deep breaths before you react. Count to ten.


Empathy or the ability to understand and share other people’s feelings is a byproduct or maybe even a cause of our evolutional need to stick together and survive in groups.

As emotional intelligent people are more prone to empathy, they’re more adapted in society as well. It’s not to say that emotional intelligent people are necessarily conformists, but their capacity to understand others and put themselves in other people’s shoes is greater.

Being aware of other people’s needs and feelings, however, can put you at a disadvantage if you forget your own needs.

That’s why it’s important for all of the elements of emotional intelligence to be brought into harmony.

It’s important to note that empathy is not just an inborn sensitivity. It can also be practiced, learned and improved as a skill.

If someone asks you a common question like how are you and you engage in long answers and forget to ask back, then you should consider honing your listening skills and withholding judgment while at it.

Consider offering help where needed, but don’t do it by inertia.

Being empathetic or emotionally intelligent does not necessarily imply being nice all the time.

If you couldn’t control who you’ll empathize with, you’d be at a great disadvantage and under threat of being manipulated by less empathetic individuals than yourself.

The point of intelligence is for you to be proactive and aware of the skills you employ so switch the autopilot off.


A positive outlook is basically optimism. It’s the ability to focus on positive aspects of people or situations that you find yourself in.

Even when something seems as negative as it gets, some people who exhibit emotional intelligence are wise enough to focus on what they can gain from negative experiences.

Perseverance in the pursuit of goals despite the challenges and the hardship is what separates successful leaders with a positive outlook from mediocre people.

Seeing opportunity even when faced with certain failure is what positive outlook is about. It’s the ability to focus on the positive and maintain that focus no matter how hard things get.

Research shows that a positive outlook helps in building both psychological and physical resiliency.

Some people are wired into behaving as if the pessimism will adequately prepare them for all the setbacks that they may experience.

However, paying attention to setbacks only can greatly diminish our motivation.

That’s why it’s important to master the skills of positive thinking as it can enhance every aspect of our endeavors.

If you are trying to anticipate and account for every setback by thinking and then get full of doubts as to whether the project will be successful… if you often give up before you even start, you should start paying close attention to the positive outlook.

You might need to work on this feature.

Are you the glass-half-empty or glass-half-full type?


Right next to a positive outlook is achievement orientation which is somewhat similar.

It entails a tendency to meet a standard of excellence with high regard too feedback that we get on our performance.

Achievement-oriented people are constantly seeking ways to improve themselves and perfect what they do.

It’s not just high reward motivation we’re talking about here, it’s the combination of humility, self-awareness and a positive outlook.

Achievement-oriented leaders are always aware of the need to perfect themselves which makes them less arrogant and bossy.

On the other hand, they are confident and optimistic enough to believe that they can excel and succeed with hard work.

That’s why they’re motivated and they exhibit the capacity to motivate the team as well.

It’s not idle optimism that’s in question.

Emotional intelligent people are well aware of psycho-physical insufficiencies and setbacks, but they don’t let it take them down.

They work hard on personal development instead.


There are many optimistic people out there, but mere naive optimism can actually pose a threat to your perseverance and resilience.

If you’re bent on success and achievement-oriented, but you don’t ground that orientation on hard work and objective (as close as you can get to it) assessment of your capabilities, you might end up disappointed and turn into a pessimist.

If you try to impose your will on others without compromising or if you’re expecting for the world to cater for your wishes while you’re disregarding everything else but yourself, you’ll end up rejected and fail.

Adaptability is often about compromise. You have to sacrifice something in order to gain something else. You have to be able to change and adapt to the situation.

By acknowledging the very need to change, you exhibit a high degree of self-awareness, so once more, the elements of emotional intelligence show that they depend on one another.

As Darwin said:

it’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

It’s important to note that it’s not just others that you’re adapting to. It’s not just environment that you’re adapting to.

Adaptability means being prone to change. Sometimes change happens whether we like it or not. It’s our inner changes that we’re advised to watch out for and accept if need be.

For us to adapt, of course, we have to be aware of our environment and have the ability to perceive and understand the changes in other people’s behavior, feelings, emotions, etc.

If you often find yourself forcing your way through the group and disregarding public opinion, you might have adversity towards conformism which is great, but if it diminishes your adaptability, this is a trait for you to work on.


This one’s really easy. If you’re keen on emotional fluctuations, both yours and your colleagues, if you’re aware of them at all times, you can understand them and feel them, it’s easy for you to do something to steer their changes.

It’s like understanding a well-tuned mechanism where you know that, if you press this, then that happens.

Human psyche at many times resembles such a mechanism, it’s just too complex for us to realize that.

Emotional intelligent people know how the mechanism works and what to press in order to produce the desired effects.

They know how to act and how to engage in subtle communication. In other words, they have people skills. They’re highly socially competent individuals.

That would pose a danger if they weren’t keen on empathy too.

That’s the only thing keeping them from being manipulative, although at times if need be, they know how to do it.

It’s easy to emotionally blackmail someone to do our bidding.

Human machines can sometimes give predictable results when faced with hurt and suffering and that is something that all of us can use.

We don’t really have to be emotionally intelligent to emotionally threaten people.

However, that’s not the subtlety of emotional influence.

The real trick is to make people happy and peaceful or to even make them laugh.

The main difference between manipulation and influence is that the latter affects the atmosphere in a positive manner.

Truly emotionally intelligent people know how to do it and that’s why they’re the perfect candidates for leaders.

We all naturally appreciate and want to follow the person which made us happy.

We’re simply inclined to support them because we consequently support ourselves that way and we invest in our own emotional equilibrium.

Knowing how to identify a threatening emotion and neutralize it before it becomes a problem is a must-have in your skillset if you hope to be a powerful leader.

Ask yourself how do people in your presence feel?

How do they feel about you and when you appear, what kind of reactions are you faced with?

Are you greeted with respect, fear, stiffness or smiles and open-body-language communication?

Are the conversations people have with you chit-chatty or are they meaningful? Are people relieved to see you or not? How many times do they ask for your advice or opinion on something? When is the last time someone asked for your help?

If reactions to your appearance are negative, you may want to work on the emotional influence that your behavior generally produces.


These days it’s all about influencing and that is an important aspect of leadership, but every leader, in order to be able to influence, must be susceptible to influences also.

That’s where the self-awareness part comes into separate positive from negative influences and refine them.

To be able to lead, you also have to know how to follow.

Society isn’t a one-man band and if you could do it all by yourself you wouldn’t have to manage a company so if you’ve already rallied the team, act as a part of it.

Emotionally intelligent people are often leaders, but leadership is not about bossing people around. There’s an important difference between a boss and a leader.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going and the leader’s the first one to do it.

He/she faces difficult tasks head-on so as to inspire the team.

He/she is a primus inter pares, but that doesn’t mean he/she’s not a part of the team. He/she knows that two heads think better than one and he/she has a tendency to listen to others and honor reasonable suggestions of his / her teammates.

An emotionally intelligent leader also employs the skills of empathy and influence to alleviate the problems that may come out of co-workers’ difference in character.

That way the team gets strengthened.

Do you consider yourself a team player or are you a lone wolf?

If it’s the latter, you should revise on this, because a strong team is always stronger than a strong individual.


A strong team is always stronger than a strong individual is, but it’s also less stable.

The more people it consists of, the harder it is to manage it.

All of us have our individual inclinations and traits that need to be accounted for and we all need to make a compromise in order to work as a team.

Emotional intelligent leaders are perfect conflict managers due to their emotional sensitivity and ability to recognize, identify and understand their own emotions and the emotions of their teammates.

In other words, they know how to diagnose and treat the problem.

Our engagements have their way of producing emotions and emotions often get tangled up and produce conflict.

It can also be a conflict of interests, principles or world-views, but in the end, it’s all emotional.

People with high EQ have their way of managing their own emotions first and resolving their internal conflicts.

That’s why they’re so competent at resolving conflicts between their co-workers or even business partners.

They’re the perfect arbitrators because they have the ability to view the things from both perspectives and come up with the best compromise for both sides.

They know how sensitive people’s emotions are and how Ego – dependent people usually are so they thread carefully so as not to step on a land mine of vanity that causes an avalanche of drama.

Emotionally intelligent people are natural-born leaders, diplomats, managers or psychologists, and therapists.

They have that gentle touch and moderation that leaders need to have, but they also know how to apply the Occam’s razor techniques in resolving problems.


We’ve mentioned that emotional intelligence is not just about inborn talent. It’s also a skill to improve and it depends on experience and focus on individual and collective emotional dynamics.

Since EQ gifted individuals pay a lot of attention on emotions and give them a lot of thought, they’re perfect candidates to coach and mentor.

They know the hardships of acquiring new knowledge and skills and they know how to motivate individuals and neutralize their emotional barriers (such as fear) when confronting novelty.

They also know how important it is to guide instead of just giving orders. They’re always aware of collective and they recognize their role in it which is to further its growth and improve it in any way that they can.

Their memory of their own different stages of development and their own changes in perspective is as clear as ever and that’s why it’s easy for them to level with the employees they need to train etc.

Because the rat race system is so superficial, people these days have trouble recognizing and identifying their own emotions, not to mention articulating them.

That’s why it seems that shrinks and therapists’ are not enough so all kinds of mentors, gurus and life coaches come on the stage.

Many don’t take these professions seriously because of the lack of scientific background, but when you look at how clumsy people are when it comes to social dynamics, you start wondering whether these professions are actually needed.

After all, science can’t teach anyone how to be charismatic or likable, but if you have a high EQ, you just might show someone how to act, think and be.

Are you diligent and thorough, but plain and simple in passing the knowledge?

Do you remember your own hardships in learning and do you know how to bypass obstacles and accelerate the process of learning? If so, you might have a high EQ.


To avoid the assumption that emotional intelligence is just some mystical-intuitive non-precise sensitivity, we make note that we’re talking about intelligence here.

That means, that although it can be more intuitive than your everyday rational cognition, it is somewhat structured and organized.

In relation to that, emotionally intelligent people are often internally and externally well organized. Their minds and emotions are not feeble. They’re as complex as anyone’s are, but they’re tidy.

Because people gifted with EQ have a knack for understanding people’s goals and motivations, they can find a way to bring them to harmony.

Motivation is not a-temporal. It happens in time and organizational awareness is about knowing when what and how to connect.

The momentum is as important as space because time and space are the two organizational axes. The third one is our inner sensibility. Emotional intelligence is all about coordinating the axes.

Organizational aware people know the importance of the connections and their stability so they are punctual and tidy in order to respect their own and other people’s time.

That’s how they create networking opportunities.

They work well in corporate environments because they know how much emotions impact overall performance and vice versa. They are in touch with subtle behavioral norms in the corporation and they have a knack for both the collective’s and individuals’ dynamics so they balance the two out.

Do you have the ability to read relationships and understand your co-workers’ motivations and goals?

Can you recognize the emotional climate?

Can you locate the organizational problems and alleviate them?

Do you understand the social networks, dynamics, and hierarchy of your environment?

If 3 of your answers are negative you definitely need to work on your organizational awareness.

You may consult with your colleagues on this and compare the answers to the questions to determine if you have a clear picture of how things work and who calls the shots.


Now, leadership is one thing and it can be perfected, but the ability to inspire is on the borderline of art.

It’s one thing to get other people to know that the best chances of them profiting is following you as the most competent one.

A completely different thing, however, is inspiring them so that they believe in an idea and so that they follow you as an example, while they’re really following their own ideals and the feeling that they can become the best versions of themselves and create something a difference in the world – one worth fighting for.

It’s one thing to make people put their back into something, but to inspire them so that they want to risk and sacrifice their time and energy is the ability to create devotion.

For such a thing to happen, you need to know each one of your co-workers individually. You have to know what gets them started and what they consider to be a turnoff.

You have to know their strings and levers in order to be able to pull them accordingly and motivate them to align with your (and their own) goals and visions.

It’s not enough to get them fired up. You also have to instill a sense of trust, admiration, and respect. That way, they’re not going to be just interested in your company’s strategy, but they’ll also partake in responsibility and important tasks from which they’ll eventually grow.

When they believe in the possibility of their personal growth, they will have a sense of purposefulness which is more than the best employers out there can provide them with.

That way they’ll value themselves more and if you’re keen on emotional fluctuations, you’ll let them contribute to the projects more.

They’ll dare to give suggestions and take initiatives and if you listen, you might just learn something yourself.

Since you’re a leader, you take full responsibility for the team’s failures even though they willingly partake in taking the blame and the fall.

Now that is a team that is connected way beyond purely corporate interests.

By encouraging their creativity and proactivity, you create not only trustworthy colleagues and employees, but you create leaders as well.

You create a tradition which will pass on the fire of devotion and the sense of personal fulfillment, value, and pride.


Many things still revolve around profit and power as people remain blind for emotional subtleties.

However, mere profit without regard for emotional balance is a sheer waste of energy, time and resources.

If you disregard your emotions, you’ll spend your resources in vain trying to restore emotional balance to your life.

We forget why we’ve started the rat race in the first place and that was so that we can support and improve our emotional life. If we’re unhappy, our money is of little worth to us.

That’s why employee satisfaction rate must be accounted for by the management if they strategize for long-term revenue which is more than monetary.

That’s why HR should consider EQ testing the potential employee candidates, especially if they aim for higher management positions.

Emotional Intelligence Has 12 Elements. Which Do You Need to Work On?

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