An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

Emotional Intelligence

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, express, and manage one’s emotions appropriately as well as recognize and understand the emotions of others. An individual’s level of emotional intelligence can be measured in a standardized test that generates an emotional quotient, or EQ (as opposed to IQ, which refers to cognitive intelligence). The concept of emotional intelligence as it pertains to the workplace was popularized by Daniel Goleman, a psychologist, who published the book Emotional Intelligence in 1995.

The Pillars of Emotional Intelligence

Goleman identified five pillars that work together to form emotional intelligence. These pillars include:

Why Emotional Intelligence Matters in the Workplace

Improving emotional intelligence can help people succeed both personally and professionally. In one survey, 71 percent of hiring managers said high emotional intelligence in a candidate is more important than high IQ. This is because those with high emotional intelligence are more likely to:

Emotional intelligence is especially important for leaders to master since so much of their job involves working with others. Goleman writes, “For leaders, the first task in management has nothing to do with leading others; step one poses the challenge of knowing and managing oneself.”

How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Practicing emotional intelligence is a little more challenging than, say, practicing the piano. The related skills are more abstract and take time to develop. However, setting goals that focus on the pillars of emotional intelligence can help you make progress. Here are some example goals you could use:

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