We’ve all heard the phrase “emotional intelligence” at some point in our lives. But what exactly is it? Is it significant? How can we identify whether we have emotional intelligence? What does it mean to have strong emotional intelligence? Can you increase your emotional intelligence?

In the mid-1990s, psychologist Dan Goleman released a book that introduced us to the concept of emotional intelligence. The primary idea is that understanding and managing emotions improves our chances of success in life.

What is emotional intelligence and why is it so important?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, control, and eventually express one’s emotions. According to recent research, EQ (emotional intelligence quotient) is more significant than IQ (intellectual quotient) for success in the job, life, and overall health. By learning it, you will be able to be aware of not only your own emotions but also the emotions of those around you.

The 4 Pillars of Emotional Intelligence 

There are four pillars of Emotional Intelligence. Let’s take a look at each of them one by one. 


With self-management, one can regulate impulsive sentiments, manage emotions in better ways, take initiative and adjust to the changing circumstances. 


Self-awareness is all about recognizing emotions and knowing how they influence one’s thoughts and behaviors. With self-awareness, you are able to know your strengths and weakness. 


When you have empathy – you can understand other people’s feelings, needs, and problems, pick up on emotional clues, feel at ease socially, recognize power dynamics in a group and deal accordingly.  

Relationship management

You may increase the quality of your relationships by improving your relationship management. Individuals who excel in this field are non-defensive, respectful to others’ concerns and opinions, and open to feedback.

Shedding Light on the Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence 

Emotional intelligence (EI) was originally regarded as the remedy for a happy and prosperous existence. As a result, great attention has been placed on designing interventions to promote this personal resource in practical contexts. Despite this, a growing corpus of research has begun to identify some settings in which EI does not appear to be helpful and may even be detrimental to a person or those with whom they come into touch, implying a “dark” side to the construct. 


It takes time to build the skills required to properly utilize emotional intelligence. Unfortunately, this cannot be taught overnight. Our own personal background, habits, fears, self-esteem, and beliefs all have an impact on our capacity to learn and apply this skill. To be successful, you must first learn how to regulate your emotions, motivate yourself, detect the emotions of others, manage your personal connections, and use your knowledge of emotional intelligence.


Emotional intelligence is difficult to assess. One of the major issues with testing techniques is the argument over whether emotional intelligence is based on a person’s temperament and personality or on a learnt reaction formed through interpersonal skills and experiences. In other words, it is a case of nature vs nurture and how to deal with it. To determine emotional intelligence, testing based on nature will look at the person’s personality, emotional stability, and conscientiousness. Nurture proponents will consider socially acceptable components in the surrounding vicinity, leadership qualities, teamwork, and learned interpersonal skills.

Negative views 

People may overlook the significance of emotional intelligence. This topic, like many others, is vulnerable to personal interpretation and derision. Some people think that emotional reactions have no place in the job. These people believe that rationality should take precedence over emotions.


With the understanding gained via emotional intelligence, you can make decisions that benefit you and others. However, some people may exploit this information to manipulate others. A person who would utilize this adversely might potentially prey on unwary people. Because emotional intelligence is frequently employed in the workplace and in commercial settings, people could use it to persuade a target audience to buy an item or a service based on an emotional appeal. It could also be used to make someone feel inferior or to obtain specific information.

Grant contends that when people strengthen their emotional talents, they become more adept at manipulating others. As he puts it, “knowing what others are experiencing allows you to pull at their heartstrings and encourage them to behave against their own best interests.” Grant cites University of Cambridge research in his paper, which discovered that when a speech is packed with passion, the audience is less inclined to scrutinize its content. And, as history has shown, depending on how it is used, emotional intelligence may serve both ethical and unethical purposes. 

In a University of Toronto study, this scenario played out. There, psychologists assessed employees’ Machiavellian tendencies, emotional management knowledge, and how frequently they purposefully undermined colleagues. According to the study, Machiavellians with high EQ had the most destructive behaviors and had no qualms about shaming their peers for personal benefit.

5 Foolproof Ways to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Manage negative emotions.

You are less likely to become overwhelmed if you can manage and lessen your negative emotions. Isn’t it true that it’s easier said than done? Try this. If you are irritated by someone, don’t jump to assumptions. Instead, allow yourself to consider the event from other perspectives, including the context. Try to look at things objectively so you don’t get too worked up. Step away from the conversation or circumstance until you’re ready to return.

Be mindful of vocabulary.

Concentrate on becoming a better communicator in various aspects of your life. Emotionally intelligent people utilize unique language to indicate shortcomings. When they occur, they act quickly to address them. Have you had a fight with your spouse/partner/friend? What went wrong, and what can you do differently next time? When you can specify what’s wrong, you have a better chance of solving the situation rather than merely stewing over it.

Practice empathy.

Focusing on verbal and nonverbal signs can provide you with significant insight into the emotions of those around you. Practice focusing on others and putting yourself in their position, even if only for a few moments. Empathetic words do not justify undesirable behavior, but they do serve as a reminder that everyone has problems.

Recognize your stressors.

Take stock of what stresses you out and take steps to reduce its presence in your life. If you know that checking your work email before bed will send you into a tailspin, put it off until the morning. Better still, save it for when you get to work.

Come back from adversity.

Everyone faces difficulties. It is your reaction to these problems that will either set you up for success or send you into a full-fledged meltdown. You are well aware that positive thinking will go you far. Practicing optimism rather than complaining will help you recover from misfortune. What can you take out from this situation? Ask probing questions to discover what you can glean from the situation.

Moving Forward: An Emotional Intelligence Exercise

The following questions are designed to begin you thinking about your own emotional intelligence. This is a quick look of what makes up our EQ. The key to increasing emotional intelligence is to engage the aspects of ourselves that we often ignore. Ignoring the inner components of ourselves only helps to smear the self-improvement we seek. Being emotionally intelligent entails being self-aware and mindful.

When you begin to consider how you can become more self-aware, what you think about becomes who you are.

  • What are my emotional strengths? 
  • What are my emotional weaknesses?
  • How does my current mood influence my ideas and decisions?
  • What is going on inside of me that could influence what others say or do?
  • How often do I show empathy to those who need it? In those instances, am I present?
  • Is it possible for me to accept criticism, or do I become defensive when it occurs?
  • How often do I compliment others? What compliments could I bestow on someone close to me or at work right now?

Taking Action: Implement Emotional Intelligence Into Your Life

Developing barriers to old thinking that lead to usual emotions is part of having a higher EQ. It’s about learning to shift away from previous habits when triggers/stressors in our lives arise. This takes experience, but having a strategy in place for when they occur will make all the difference. Answer the following questions in your brain or on paper. This is about making a plan for when life’s sticky situations arise. Prepare for the next time by going over these questions.

  • Do I let my negative ideas spiral out of control, or am I able to redirect my thinking to a more productive place? What are some of the most recent examples?
  • Am I conscious of how my words effect others? Consider a time when you were not, and then consider how you might improve the next time.
  • When was the last time you faced adversity, and how did you deal with it? What would you change the next time?
  • What are your sources of stress? What is a life trigger for you? Something that irritates you? How will you handle a similar circumstance in the future while remaining calm?

We all have the ability to improve our emotional intelligence. It merely requires us to work on ourselves within the four pillars of emotional intelligence.