Emotional Intelligence, Part one.
Written by Dr Ian C Llewellyn.
“Emotional Intelligence and how it can be applied in everyday interactions – the basics and some stats/research to direct people too”.
Emotional Intelligence – an everyday helper.
A random search on Google of the topic ‘Emotional Intelligence’ [EI] resulted in 190M hits, EI and leadership, 68M; EI and education 116M; EI and Sales, 29M, and EI and parenting, 20M hits [November 10th]. Between 1990 when the first substantive ideas around EI were being pulled together by academics in America, to 2019, EI has grown in influence and significance to individuals, organisations and one can find its impact in corporate training programmes seeking to equip everyone from CEO to shop floor worker with the tools for effectiveness in working together and increased output and income generation. The business case for EI is built on solid ground. Please follow key references below for more information.
However, EI has just as much an influential role to play in, what I shall term the everyday living of life. In this context, I allude to relationships, friendships, school /education and stress at home and at work. Perhaps noticeable from such a list is the contention that to live emotionally intelligent is to do so within the context of community. To be emotionally intelligent is to be not only emotionally self-aware but aware of others emotions.
EI – it’s development as a concept.
From Ancient Greeks through the Stoics, down through the European Enlightenment era, much of global society lived under the notion that reason was King and emotion was little more than an aggravating presence that interfered and needed controlling. The perception that thought and feeling could be connected, indeed co-dependent on each other was not accepted.
Blaise Pascal once wrote: ‘The heart has its reasons of which reason knows not’ (1966) EI would contend that intelligence and emotions are in fact related, symbiotic and necessary for cognition to complete its full course. Emotional intelligence is the intelligent use of emotions. As this is not a scientific article, I shall offer a broad sweep of the technical history of EI and highlight two pivotal moments in the history of the term. Two academics – John Mayer and Peter Salovey – had been drawing together a glut of information and research on the potential relationship of intelligence and emotion as a unified component. Their early definition of EI highlighted four main elements:
“The ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and. emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this. information to guide one’s thinking and actions” (Salovey. & Mayer, 1990, p. 189).
By and large, however, this research and exploration were taking place in the hallowed halls of academia. It was the work of Daniel Goleman, a science journalist, that brought the idea of EI to the general public through his books in 1995 and 1998. His original book made accessible both research into the concept of EI and a series of extraordinary claims for the concepts and its effect in everyday life. In short: EI was possibly the best predictor of success in life – whoever you were, wherever you were. A flurry of claims and tests avalanched onto the market as corporate HR attempted to harness the idea as a commodity.
Today, whilst there are three main different approaches to this concept of EI, they do all share a commonality of core components:
- Social Awareness
- Relationship Management
Thanks for the History Lesson … what’s important about EI today?
- Emotional Intelligence is often written about in the context of its contribution to leadership growth – and so it should, as it does indeed enhance leadership (see references below). This piece of writing is focusing on the role of EI in the everyday world of understanding ourselves and others. To give an overview, we can say with confidence that the following is true of EI:
EI enables us to use emotions as signals, as data as to what is taking place – in ourselves and in others.
- EI, if viewed through the lens of the ability model, can assist us in integrating head (logic) and heart (emotions) in reasoning and making decisions
- EI can aid educational development
- EI can aid relationship building at all levels – from personal to the corporate setting.
Thus far I have written about ‘emotions’ and ‘feelings, I will mention ‘moods’ at some point. Sometimes they can be blurred together, or not fully valued for their distinctiveness. Is there a difference or are these all the same type of thing?
In brief, we can say that Emotions are chemicals released in response to our interpretation of a specific trigger. It takes our brains about 1/4 second to identify the trigger, and about another 1/4 second to produce the chemicals. By the way, emotion chemicals are released throughout our bodies, not just in our brains, and they form a kind of feedback loop between our brains & bodies.
Feelings happen as we begin to integrate the emotion, to think about it, to “let it soak in.” In English, we use “feel” for both physical and emotional sensation — we can say we physically feel cold, but we can also emotionally feel cold. This is a clue to the meaning of “feeling,” it’s something we sense
Moods are more generalized. They’re not tied to a specific incident, but a collection of inputs. The mood is heavily influenced by several factors: the environment (weather, lighting, people around us), physiology (what we’ve been eating, how we’ve been exercising, how healthy we are), and finally our mental state (where we’re focusing attention and our current emotions). Moods can last minutes, hours, probably even days (6 Seconds)
In the 20th century, Paul Ekman identified six basic emotions:
Robert Plutchik identified eight, which he grouped into four pairs of polar opposites:
Come with me in your mind’s eye: It’s a lovely sunny day outside and on your way to work, you grab a coffee at your favourite outlet. Whilst waiting for your order, you see someone who reminds you of an old school friend and a raft of lovely emotions come flooding in on you. Your first task at work is to sit on an interview panel and as you listen and talk to the first candidate, you have a feeling as to how good an employee he would make. After the interview, you discuss your thoughts and feelings with your colleagues and the mood is very positive about this individual. The above serves to demonstrate, maybe make you consider the role that affective states have in influencing our thoughts and behaviours. This is EI at work…
Watch out for the next instalment of EI blog, this will be continued next week where we will discuss EI, coping with stress and decision making…