“Common sense is not so common.” ― Voltaire
Emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ) is a topic that has become very popular during the last couple years, however, the concept is not new, it could be similar to the well known “common sense.” A wealth of quotes, full of wisdom, from our ancestors gives evidence of this. But what is all this fuss about EI? And why do we need to develop it?
Let me start from the very basic: in our daily life we have to solve situations in every moment, from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to bed. Luckily, we have enough resources to cope with this type of daily demands. The problem, however, is that despite having these resources we sometimes do not know how to use them.
We were born with the ability to learn and understand things, to handle new situations and solve problems appropriately. This is what we call intelligence. This, allows us to collect knowledge, which can be acquired through learning by experience or insight. Based on knowledge we can make decisions. Decision making is present in all aspects of our lives and at all times, but some of these decisions are more crucial than others. Independent of that, it is through this process that during the pursuit of our goals we are able to overcome these obstacles (problems).
So what’s the matter with Emotional intelligence (EQ)? Having a great intellect (high IQ) is not enough. When we make decisions, they are influenced not only by our thinking, but also by our emotions. It is here where common sense may become less common and even may stop making sense.
Emotional intelligence represents our fundamental ability to reason “with emotions”. It is a set of skills arising from our knowledge and understanding of emotions and it allows us:
- To accurately perceive and assess emotions (ours and from others).
- To access and generate feelings that facilitate our thinking.
- To regulate emotions in order to promote emotional and intellectual growth.
Nevertheless, having the skills is just one of the ingredients to live an emotionally intelligent life. It is also necessary to possess the motivation and the knowledge to use them appropriately in order to reach achievement. Once we have gathered all the necessary information to solve a problem at the emotional level, it must be sorted with certain quality, effectiveness, autonomy and flexibility.
This is called Emotional Competence (EC) and it is the behavioural component of EI. It lies in our actions and
behaviours which are guided by our knowledge of a certain situation. So this is like the person that believes he is a good dancer because of some dance lessons and some knowledge about music but actually, the truth would be revealed on the dance floor.
Similarly, in our daily life it is not enough with just knowing, we also need to know when and how to use that knowledge appropriately. Think about a behaviour that you have that causes you pain, nevertheless you keep repeating it over and over again.
Yes, surely you know that it is wrong and what would be the right thing to do, even so, you do not do it. But not to worry, it is possible to learn to be emotionally competent and therefore, to live an emotionally intelligent life. However, the acquisition of these skills requires time and dedication from your part, but once you start to develop them you would be glad you did. We will talk about this in more detail in future articles, stay tuned.
- Emotional intelligence (EI) represents the fundamental ability to reason with emotions.
- Emotional competence is the behavioural part of the EI and is reached when a certain level of achievement is attained.
- The quality of the performance will indicate our level of emotional competence.
- To live an emotionally intelligent life we need to be emotionally competent. This means, to make a good performance, we need to have the knowledge, the motivation, and the possibility and the ability to use it appropriately.
1. Here I leave you a very interesting and fun talk about Emotional Intelligence “From Theory to Every day Practice” by Prof. Marc Brakett, Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
1. Feldman Barret, L., P. Salovey, and D.J. Mayer, The Wisdom in Feeling: Psychological Processes in Emotional Intelligence (Emotions And Social Behavior)2002: The Guilford Press.