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What is Emotional Intelligence?

A comparison with the classical concept of intelligence

In this article we try to briefly answer some relevant questions like “What is emotional intelligence?”, “How useful is it?” or even “How can I improve mine?”

Emotional Intelligence

Key Emotional Intelligence skills


The concept of intelligence has been around for a long time. It is usually related with one’s problem solving, memorization and pattern recognizing skills and many scholars tried to measure it in the past by creating multiple tests (like the popular Stanford-Binet or Kaufman) as a way to measure the Intelligence Quotient (IQ). However, a new component of intelligence was to be revealed in the 1990s when Peter Solovay and John D. Mayer presented their article “Emotional Intelligence” (EI), creating a foundation that would later be explored and applied to other domains.

EI - What is it about?

Emotional intelligent is often assessed based on skills like Self Awareness, Self Regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and Social Skills. Indeed, although there is no consensus on the measurement of the Emotional Quotient (EQ), someone who is able to predict his/her reactions upon stress or conflict, master their own emotions according to the situation, know how to motivate him/herself and others, is able to create empathy with others of different backgrounds and cultures, and is able to actively listen and express ones ideas is definitely someone with a high EQ.

How to improve it?

Good news! Although an individuals IQ is not easily improvable, their EQ score can be increased through knowledge transferring and practice. Indeed, in accordance with the previous section, one might become more emotionally intelligent by individually improving each of the above-mentioned skills. 

To become more self aware, one should be able to recognize not only his/her emotions but also the conditions that trigger those emotions – reflections like “what was it that made me so uncomfortable that day?” or “why did I raise my voice on that situation?” can be really helpful. Moreover, to recognize and categorize emotions will also play an important role when making decisions – after the necessity of doing so under pressure, a simple deep breathe can help mastering emotions and relax to assess the viable options, and only then making a decision.

On the other hand, by understanding what are the mechanisms that positively or negatively affect each emotion, one will be able to better read others expressions and even predict some behaviors. This state of awareness can be achieved by paying a higher level of attention when others are communicating (active listening) and will help on identifying small details that might be crucial for appealing to their emotions, making it possible to create a bridge of empathy and ultimately understand what motivates them.


By ultimately becoming better decision-makers, one can infer that emotional intelligence can have a positive impact on both a personal and professional level.

If one could avoid situations of conflict with their companion, friends, or family, wouldn’t that be great? The emotional intelligence can also play a significant role on one’s personal life by creating awareness on our own and others emotions. Simple reflections like “I know that my friends don’t like this, how will I let them know about it?” or “I noticed that my companion is usually tired after long trips, do I really need her help with these domestic affairs right now?” will definitely prevent some possible (and avoidable) discussions.

On the other hand, in a world that becomes more and more educated each day, strong technical skills by themselves no longer guarantee a certain job or promotion. While facing multiple candidates with a strong technical background, nowadays leaders frequently assess soft-skills like the ability to think under pressure, feedback quality, public speaking and other inter-personal characteristics as selection criteria.

by YKW // 25 May 2023

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