Emotional Intelligence for Beginners




High emotional intelligence is responsible for productive harmony at work, successful relationships with loved ones and friends, and an inner sense of calm and emotional balance.


For an organisation to evolve from good to great, it requires the people in the business to work well together. Lack of trust, unresolved conflicts or resentment, or individuals not understanding how their actions impact others can be roadblocks to productivity and delivering great results in the workplace.


Unlike IQ (intelligence quotient), there are few measurements of emotional quotient or intelligence (EQ or EI).


Academics, Salovey and Mayer, first coined the term emotional intelligence in 1990. They defined it as the ability to:

  1. perceive emotions

  2. use emotions

  3. understand emotions

  4. manage emotions.


With the publication of Daniel Goleman’s bestseller, ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in 1995, the term became popularised.


Research shows

  • EQ skills separate high-achievers from average performers

  • managers high in EQ outperform their targets by 20%

  • salespeople selected on EQ outperform others by 40%

  • leaders who display constructive behaviours have high EQ and the business grows.


So what attributes indicate high emotional intelligence?




Self-awareness is a quality of EQ; knowing what you are feeling and why you are feeling it.




The ability to read the emotions and non-verbal cues of others is also important.  


The Harvard ‘Reading the Eyes in the Mind’ test assesses how well you can accurately read which emotion someone is experiencing by what you see in their eyes. The test presents 37 photos of pairs of eyes with a choice of four emotions, e.g. ashamed, nervous, suspicious, indecisive.


To try this test out for yourself, go to http://socialintelligence.labinthewild.org/mite/


Accurately reading emotions of people around you means you are sensitive and responsive to people’s feelings. That’s EQ.




‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response,’ writes author Victor Frankl.


When something bad happens to us, we can either experience a knee-jerk reaction or we can pause a moment to stabilise our feelings and consider our response.


An emotionally intelligent person has mastery over their emotions and emotional responses. If you can reflect and consider before reacting, you are demonstrating EQ.




Our emotions influence both what we think about and how we think. If you are in a positive mood you will see things differently than when in a negative mood.




When something bad happens to an optimist, they view it as temporary and a one-off event. But when a negative experience happens to a pessimist, they regard it as permanent and universal. A pessimist might even respond to such an event with, ‘That always happens to me! ‘

Here’s an optimism/pessimism indicator question.

You gain weight over the holidays and you can’t lose it. What is your response, A or B?


            A. Diets don’t work.

            B. The diet I tried didn’t work.


If you answered B, ‘The diet I tried didn’t work’, you’ve taken an optimistic approach; failure is temporary. If your response is A, ‘Diets don’t work’, then that’s how a pessimist views events; failure is permanent.


Are optimists happier in life?


Pessimists may view the world (according to them) ‘realistically’. Optimists may be under an illusion, but it can be argued they experience more joy in the moment.




Ability to tolerate stress and being slow to express frustration is also an indicator of high EQ.


Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. When treated in an unfair manner or not shown due respect or consideration, can I avoid becoming too angry or lashing out?

  2. Can I maintain emotional equilibrium and stop myself from getting too down when I experience negative events?

  3. Can I prevent prevent  myself  becoming overly worried about things?

  4. When I do get upset, can I calm myself down and bounce back emotionally?


Being resilient means staying emotionally buoyant, bouncing back after an upset and not catastrophising i.e. viewing an inconvenience or disruption as, on the scale of things, worse than it really is.




12-step recovery programs use this saying: ‘Grant me the power to accept the things I can’t change; to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.’


It requires emotional intelligence to achieve this clarity.




This is the scenario. You are given a marshmallow, but here’s the deal.  You can choose to eat it now; or if you can wait 15 minutes, and not eat that marshmallow, you’ll be given a second one.




Research at Stanford University showed the ability to wait for a second marshmallow was an indicator of future success in life and career. Dunedin University research focused on the relationship between childhood self-control and social measures such as health, wealth and crime.


Could you wait for the second marshmallow?




In summary, an emotionally intelligent person is able to adjust their feelings, thoughts and behaviours to changing situations and conditions. They are open to different ideas and ways of doing things. They are able to look at the brighter side of life and maintain a positive attitude even when times are tough. They are good at problem-solving and able to identify problems as well as generate and implement solutions.



You can increase your self-awareness by:

  • Observing your reactions

  • Naming your emotions; ‘What am I feeling right now?’

  • After a negative encounter, stop, reflect what you are feeling and why.

  • Listening to your tone of voice when you are happy, stressed, tired, hungry


And if you have the opportunity, complete a psychometric test or personality profile such as Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ®, DiSC ®, Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument ®, MSCEIT or EQ-i. They help you reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and aid you to understand yourself and understand others.


*Nina Sunday helps teams improve teamwork and tolerance by discovering what is high emotional intelligence.




Linkedin:  www.linkedin.com/in/ninasunday/

© Nina Sunday 2017.  

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