What is Emotional Intelligence and Why Does it Matter?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and mange emotions in yourself (personal competence) and others (social competence). It involves the ability to solve emotion-related problems quickly and accurately. Its role was largely overlooked because it is somewhat intangible, until recent studies in the early and mid-nineties showed that its quotient (EQ) might be nearly as important as IQ. As a result of these discoveries, emotional intelligence is now taught widely in secondary schools, business schools, and medical schools.

There are many tests you can take to determine if you have emotional intelligence, and there are also some signs you may notice that signify you have a high emotional intelligence. Some of these signs include being able to be rational about your feelings and not holding grudges, being able to say no to extra commitments you can’t handle without feeling bad, not being very easily offended, and being curious and accepting towards others. These are all signs that you can rationally manage the emotions you have and understand others. You may also know what someone is feeling without them having to say anything.

Understanding people’s feeling s can be a strong way to mange or influence others; it is a skill that can be used to persuade or even manipulate people. Passionate speeches like those of Martin Luther King are powered by emotional intelligence. He expresses his feeling competently and stirs emotion in the audience to convey his points powerfully and memorably. These kinds of emotionally competent displays make history. They can be used for good or evil. Another example of very emotionally charges speeches are those of Adolf Hitler, who was able to convince large groups of people to act irrationally and against their best interest with emotional conviction.

Emotional intelligence is important in the workplace. In jobs that do require client interface and interaction, like counseling, sales, and healthcare, this skill is paramount to better performance. It is very important in building good quality relationships. In these types of professions, emotional intelligence can correlate with higher salaries and achievement. In jobs that are more mechanical (and less common), like accounting or repairs, emotional intelligence actually decreases performance since it may distract the person from focusing on their tasks. Every point of increase in emotional intelligence correlates with $1,300 increase in annual salary. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence earn an average of $29,000 more per year.

Emotional intelligence is a flexible set of skills that can be improved and acquired. It is separate from the intellect. In many cases, you can teach yourself to better recognize and communicate about emotions. Some people are naturally good at this type of intelligence, and others acquire it through experience or practice. People with good emotional intelligence have great communication between the rational (frontal) and emotional (limbic) parts of the brain. This allows us to rationally analyze emotion before we have a reaction. Both parts of the brain have to engage with each other. Over time, the brain can create new connections between these parts of the brain and this improves your emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is a skill much like the more commonly known intellectual intelligence. It is the other kind of smart. It can be developed and used for good, or to advance personal agendas. Developing this skill can help you navigate many areas of life including the interpersonal parts of work.


Bradberry, Travis. “Emotional Intelligence – EQ.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 08 Oct. 2014. Web. 21 July 2017.

Grant, Adam. “The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 02 Jan. 2014. Web. 20 July 2017.

Mayer, John D. “What Emotional Intelligence Is and Is Not.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 21 Sept. 2009. Web. 20 July 2017.

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