General Question

zookeeny's avatar

What is emotional intelligence? How emotionally intelligent are you?

Asked by zookeeny (888points) January 22nd, 2010

What is it?

Do you think it is a valid assessment which can be compared from person to person?

What makes a person emotionally ‘smart’?

What makes a person emotionally ‘dumb’?

What are the correct terms for the extremes of ability within the emotional intelliegence spectrum?

How can you ensure your child is emotionally intelligent?

As an adult can you/how can you advance your emotional intelligence?

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42 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

+5 for asking far too many questions at one time!!

cbloom8's avatar

Emotional Intelligence is your ability to cope with, manage, and interact with your emotions. If you have a high EI, you are emotionally stable and healthy, while if you have low EI you aren’t emotionally stable or healthy.

Harp's avatar

There’s no universally agreed upon definition of EI, but generally it involves being tuned into one’s own emotions, the ability to discern the emotions of others, the ability to govern one’s emotions and put them to work in a positive way, and the ability to interact with others in a socially constructive way.

I’m not conversant on how EI is measured in a clinical sense, but it certainly seems clear that it does describe a set of abilities that varies widely from person to person. How much of EI is innate and how much is learned is difficult to say, but compared to cognitive intelligence, there is a much greater possibility of building EI over one’s lifetime. A large component of it is simple attentiveness.

I’m not sure how I would go about rating my own EI. I’m quite aware of emotions—my own and others’—but I tend to not accord them a great deal of importance.

gggritso's avatar

According to my shitty useless annoying professional development course, Emotional Intelligence is the ability of an individual to be in control of their emotions and the degree to which they affect their actions and decision.

Zen_Again's avatar

Let’s just say that if this were real life, and you asked me for my opinion on EI, then before I could open my mouth, you asked seven more questions, and listed 20 topics, I’d say you weren’t being very emotionally intelligent.

EI is about being sensitive to the other person, listening, and then what you do with that.

See how I made you feel stupid in my first paragraph? It was sarcastic, not very useful and smug. Shows that I am lacking in EI. I am working on it.

Ron_C's avatar

I think emotional intelligence isn’t really quantifiable. It, like poetry and porn, is one of those things that you will know when you see it.

I have seen psychologists try to put a number on it, similar to the intelligence quotient but all of that is culturally subjective.

Basically, if you are able to function through a trauma and not turn into a vegetable, you have sufficient emotional intellect (if there really is such a thing). If you crash for the smallest reason, you lack emotional intelligence.

That “intelligence” depends on your culture, sex, and experience. I really think “emotional intelligence” is one of those meaningless phrases whose only function is to add to psychological jargon.

marinelife's avatar

EI is not something you strive to instill in your child. You would develop their emotional intelligence through honesty about emotions and their role in life in the home, through honest communication, through demonstrating the connection between emotions and consequences.

wunday's avatar

What is emotional intelligence? Check out the Wikipedia article. It describes three different models.

1) The ability-based model. EI includes 4 types of abilities: perceiving, using, understanding, and managing emotions.

2) The mixed model. EI is a wide array of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance. These skills are comprised of self-awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management.

3) The Bar-On model of Emotional-Social Intelligence (ESI). The Bar-On model defines emotional intelligence as being concerned with effectively understanding oneself and others, relating well to people, and adapting to and coping with the immediate surroundings to be more successful in dealing with environmental demands.

As you can see, there are many similarities between the models. Each model has an instrument designed to measure EI. I don’t know what the validities of these instruments are.

Am I aware of my emotions? There are not many who are more aware.

Can I use or control my emotions? To some degrees, quite well. To others, not at all. It all depends on how healthy I am at the time.

Can I cope with others well? You bet.

Can I manage relationships? Ah, there’s the rub. I have some skills there. A lot of knowledge. But there are parts of myself that mystify me in terms of why I handle relationships the way I do, or seek relationships the way I do. However, I have recently come to believe I am a love addict, and this should give me a key to be able to do much better in this arena.

As to how you can advance both childrens’ and adults’ emotional intelligence—the answer is the same. Training, including therapy. I had many communication courses and group management courses throughout my schooling. I’ve learned about rhetoric, and I’ve had a lot of practice. I believe these skills should be taught starting in kindergarten, and, in fact, I send my children to schools that pay attention to these issues.

I don’t know the terminology for extremes in EI, but if you really care, go to the article, find out the instruments for measuring EI, and read some papers where researchers interpret the results of those instruments. That will give you the terminology and examples of the range of behavior.

Is this homework? Just curious.

Merriment's avatar

As much as they would like to quantify it I don’t think it is something that can be measured.

What makes a person emotionally “smart” is a well-developed sense of empathy coupled with a well-developed skill of detachment.

Knowing how the other guy is feeling while understanding where they stop and you begin is the highest level of emotional intelligence in my opinion.

Lack of empathy and enmeshment is what renders a person emotionally dumb. If you can’t understand how the other guy feels or how he may have gotten to that place. Or if you can’t separate yourself and your feeling from the other guy’s you aren’t emotionally smart.

Children are generally very empathetic when they are small. This is why when one in the nursery cries the whole room full of babies will often tune up. Encouraging this empathetic response to remain past infancy requires that the parent be respectful of, and give verbal recognition to, the child’s empathetic responses.

By this I mean, when my son would be observing a child who was sad say because she was being yelled at in the store by her mother we would talk about it. We would talk about how the child, the parent, my son, and myself all felt about what was going on emotionally underneath the vocalized interaction. Ie:
My son: Mommy that girl is sad.
Me: I know! Why do you think she is crying?
Son: a ‘cause her mommy is angry and yelling?
Me: How do you think that makes the little girl feel?
Son: Scared and sad
Me: How do you think the mommy is feeling right not?
Son: Mad?
Me: Mad and frustrated and her feelings are hurt too because she is embarrassed.

As my children aged the conversations became more complex and the lesson of detachment began to play a larger role.

It’s as important that they understand that you can feel bad for someone else’s plight without having it wreck their day/life as it is for them to have compassion for that other person.

Empathy seems to come naturally to me, so as an adult I would day that my biggest challenge was to practice the art of detachment. This part of emotional intelligence, in my experience, is never fully “done”. There will always be certain people and/or events that threaten your equanimity and you will always have to assess and reassess your reactions.

wunday's avatar

@Merriment That’s a very interesting point. I am in a strange situation where sometimes I have no detachment and at other times, I have too much. These are my judgments about myself. Yesterday, I was talking to a friend whose boyfriend had just broken up with her. I didn’t cry or anything. I just listened. A couple of days ago, I talked to an Aunt who just received news she had a cancer that might kill her in one to six months. Again, I didn’t cry. Yet I have been completely emotional at stories I hear on TV or even here.

I think with both those people I had a different job—I needed to be there for them, and maybe help them hold it together. They wanted to vent, but also practical advice. Actually, I’m kind of feeling it now. But at the same time, I’m feeling that things are what they are. I can’t go back to the past and change them. All I can do is move forward, and if… when my aunt passes away… I don’t know. At least I will have had that conversation, and, I hope, many more before that happens.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Huh. There’s the nub; the detachment! That’s actually quite useful to know. Thanks, @Merriment!

CMaz's avatar

I am here aren’t I? :-)

Fluther reeks of emotional intelligence.
But, I would rather replace emotional with passionate.

bean's avatar

i think emotional intelligence means how well your able to make a wise decision while when emotional, being emotional can cloud one’s judgment and it is difficult to make a wise decision when your influenced by your emotions, especially when your feeling strong emotions…. The other side to being emotionally intelligent is taking precaution with feelings, being able to control your emotions and being able to be wise at the same time… it’s also about handling the action of others and how well you can compromise when it’s needed. However, sometimes compromising and being patient can be two different things, some people think they are being compromising… but they are really just very patient… thats tolerance which can be like being emotionally intelligent or just having good control over your emotions.
Being emotionally intelligent is also about life experience, you develop this aspect over time, but some people mature enough to understand the larger perspective of things… thats why some people, even my age have a hard time dealing with their own emotions, they develop a way of coping, or finding who they are… at the same time we are learning how to deal with emotions and finding coping mechanisms so in the end we find a solution to larger out look of situations, and we are learning to be wise and compromising if we embrace this experience… other wise we never learn and never grow emotionally or improve our intellect.

Merriment's avatar

@wundayatta – I know what you mean about sometimes feeling too detached. That is why I call it an art of detachment there is no one level that fits every situation and therefore it must be a fluid skill.

It sounds like your assessment of the situation using your own EI was that they didn’t need you to express all the emotional impact their news was having on you as much as they needed you to be able to withstand the news in such a way that they could talk about their feelings without worrying about yours. That is detachment with a purpose.

That you are “feeling it now” says you likely haven’t gone too far in detachment but if you feel your response was “flat-lined” it’s okay to go back to those people and to explain that your feelings are deeply involved but that you didn’t want to make them the focus of your conversation with them.

Sorry to hear about your Aunt and I hope she recovers.

Merriment's avatar

@aprilsimnel you’re welcome It does seem to be an often overlooked component of EI.

janbb's avatar

One consequence of having been made the emotional lackey of my mother as a child was that I have become very attuned to perceiving the emotions of people as an adult. It took me longer to recognize, label and handle my own. I now consider myself to have a high level of EI.

I agree with @Marina that the way to properly deveop EI in a child is by talking honestly with them about feelings and having an atmosphere of open communication in the house. To the extent that I was able to do that with my sons, I feel it has helped make them very caring, loving men who are well attuned to their partners.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I agree with @Merriment (what a wonderful answer) me being emotionally intelligent means being perceptive, understanding when my own emotions are overshadowing logic, understanding how others feel in situations that I haven’t even been in but can extrapolate on…it’s about being genuine.

mammal's avatar

i’m into emotional maturity, not intelligence

nicobanks's avatar

Short Answer: I think emotional intelligence is intelligence about your emotions.

Long Answer: Being intelligent about your emotions includes things like knowing what you feel and why you feel that way, being able to clearly express your emotions and being able to talk about it, knowing how to control your emotions so you don’t engage in destructive behaviour, etc.

Although I wouldn’t really use these terms, I guess that means if you can do these things, you’re emotionally smart, and if you can’t, you’re emotionally dumb. I do think emotional intelligence can be compared between people, and I do think it’s a spectrum, but I don’t know any correct terms.

I think talking about your emotions and leading your child through their emotions can help to teach them. And I think, as an adult, the more you think about your emotions, your responses to things, etc., the “smarter” you can be. Study of psychology may help (formal or informal study, going to see a psychologist, etc.).

Sonnerr's avatar

Do you think it is a valid assessment which can be compared from person to person?Of course not, although it might be able to contrast between people. It is not a sure-fire way to understand anybodies reactions to anything.

What makes a person emotionally ‘smart’? I’d have to agree with @cbloom8 that it takes intelligence to have the ability to cope with, manage, and interact with your emotions

What makes a person emotionally ‘dumb’? Someone who is not capable of the latter.

What are the correct terms for the extremes of ability within the emotional intelliegence spectrum? I honestly have no Idea, seeing as this subject is fairly new to me.

How can you ensure your child is emotionally intelligent? Less T.V. More Reality.

As an adult can you/how can you advance your emotional intelligence? Making and breaking bonds. Furthering your knowledge of the reality that you are surrounded by. Grasping the concept of the objective and subjective universe.

Merriment's avatar

I actually disagree that intelligence in it’s measurable form has a great connection to emotional intelligence. I know some people who wouldn’t wow anybody with their scores on intelligence tests that are off the charts when it comes to emotional intelligence. I also think that it is this aspect of emotional intelligence that would make it very hard to quantify.

I know a young woman who has had more loss thrown her way than most of us will see in a lifetime. She is of low average intelligence by the standard measurement and yet, her wisdom when it comes to accepting the truth that that which cannot be fixed must be endured is remarkable. Her understanding of why people do what they do is stellar.

If anything it seems more documented that standard type high intelligence may get in the way of EI. Hence the studies done regarding how to take geniuses and train them in EI.

YARNLADY's avatar

I agree with @mammal using the word emotional and intelligent in the same phrase is an oxymoron. Emotional maturity seems a lot more to the point.

DrMC's avatar

I think that emotional intelligence is vague and the student proposing it should be forced to rewrite his thesis.

Wisdom, Maturity, Grace, Sense of humor, kindness, empathy, self control, perception are all traits that could be lumped under a global non intelligence intelligence.

I’m surprised at how poorly personality tests capture the individual.

There are innate traits which likely are genetically set – compare the autistic to the individual with william’s syndrome and their cock-tail personality

Most innate traits can be modified to some degree.

I think most will agree, that the more popular individuals in 9th grade have mastered something, which is not IQ. Emotional intelligence comprises a component of that, and emotional intelligence has many sub traits.

After solving all of the above and writing it into a book you will become rich selling your book: “how to be cool in 9th grade”

LethalCupcake's avatar

I would think this would have to be based on experience – Emotional. If you’ve gone through a lot more things emotionaly – than you would have a higher emotional intelligence… Ie: how to handle certain situations or who to trust.

philosopher's avatar

Emotional intelligence is the ability to cope under stress; and to allow reason to guide you.
I am the Mother of an Autistic young Man. I am strong and I never give up despite; all the incompetent so called Professional I have encountered.

zenele's avatar

You asked (and asked and asked) What is emotional intelligence? How emotionally intelligent are you?

How smart your pecker is, or, how much sex you can get without getting into trouble (guys). How to get a man before you’re an old maid even though you know better (girls).

On a scale of 1–10 an 8.

What is it? I just told you. You aren’t very emotionally intelligent then, are you?

Do you think it is a valid assessment which can be compared from person to person? Sure. I’m an 8 – you’re a 5.

What makes a person emotionally ‘smart’? Now you’re a 3.

What makes a person emotionally ‘dumb’? Asking the same thing over and over again?

What are the correct terms for the extremes of ability within the emotional intelliegence spectrum? Huh?

How can you ensure your child is emotionally intelligent? Feed, bathe and clothe him. Shower him with love, and keep him away from fluther.

As an adult can you/how can you advance your emotional intelligence? By answering questions here seriously.


Coloma's avatar

Emotional intelligence is really just a fancy label for emotional maturity as a few have mentioned.

The ability to keep ones emotions in check and not engage in sloppy, unproductive emotional reactivity, whether in regards to ones personal situation or when dealing with another, others.

To be emotionally self regulated and not dependent on any outside circumstance, situation, or person for that regulation.

Appropriate empathy and detatchment as was previously addressed as well.

I would also say a component would be lack of emotionally manipulative behaviors as well, not using tears, threats of anger, withdrawl or the silent treatment as a means of emotional control.

I consider myself to quite emotionally intelligent and stable and this is one area where I afford little comprimise with others.

Last year I hired someone to install some expensive antique wrought iron graveyard fencing around my patio, this man was 50 yrs. old and had a meltdown during installation which culminated in him throwing a panel of my fencing into the dirt, getting in his truck peeling out of my driveway and hitting the fence. I did not hear from him for several days at which time I left him a message and asked when I could expect him to pick up his tools.

Job off, I refuse to deal with adult children.

It was also amusing as hell to notice that he snuck over on the sly to pick up his tools when he knew I would not be around, another emotionally infantilized trait of avoidance.

Some people, it’s a wonder they get through life at all given their woefully inadequate emotional skill sets. lol

Zyx's avatar

Language, it isn’t that hard.

IQ was there, so someone thought of EQ and then someone else came and fucked it up with EI, which makes no sense at all. And if you’re going to use EQ at all you have to acknowledge it reaches it’s maximum in a relatively high number of individuals.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Some of the answers given here have been great, and I wish they reflected how the term is used most of the time offline. But in the common “academic” sense of the term, emotional intelligence is a pseudoscientific notion that inadvertently measures your conformity to societal norms. “Emotional geniuses” are identified by their ability to ride the tide of consensus, whereas intellectual geniuses have always swum upstream.

Barbs20's avatar

The ability to be in touch with our emotions brings us closer to who we really are as human beings.

Earthgirl's avatar

@SavoirFaire I find it enlightening to remember that in scientific studies they found that the people who were most “well-adjusted” were the easiest ones to condition. But it makes perfect sense doesn’t it?

seazen_'s avatar

I.Q. is a pretty reliable test to see how much brains you have. Imperfect, but a good tool. E.Q. tests how you deal with the fact that you got a low score on the test, and whether you are empathetic to the next guy who got an even lower score.

Mantralantis's avatar

Oh, is that the one where when one gets some more new emotions and its then added to their overall intelligence? I think I see that in a lot of people I know and here too. Yeah.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Response moderated (Unhelpful)
WyCnet's avatar

Emotional Intelligence advances at puberty.

One way to create Emotional Intelligence is to collect Information about conditions that alter your Emotional states, and when sure that those conditions cause emotional fluctuations, discover remedies to docter those impulses. Those remedies can be used as methods and they become part of your strategies which when deployed show your EI.

In the end it is the variety of the experiences that count.

Sinqer's avatar

The entire idea strikes me as a fuzzy assembly of other concrete ideas to try and promote sympathetic emotional reaction as somehow intelligent. And the closest thing they could attain was a label for the act of applying one’s intelligence in referencing their own emotions, and workings thereof, to accurately understand and/or feel the emotions of another, and then to apply intelligence to one’s actions while taking into account the fruits of their self awareness.

My observations of (lay) people’s use of the concept hold that being insensitive to another’s emotions begets you the label of low emotional intelligence. While experiencing sympathy or empathizing and treating people sensitively is promoted as high emotional intelligence.

Emotions are unconsciously manifested and reactive to stimulus. Applying intelligence is a purely conscious endeavor. And so the expression strikes me as an oxymoron. I think many people want to assert the idea that emotions are or can be somehow intelligent when they are not. I have wondered if it is most often embraced by people that recognize themselves as more emotional, and are fighting to have their emotional reactions considered equivalent in some measure to intelligent decisions.

If the definition revolves around the subject matter that intelligence is applied to (i.e. applying intelligence to understand emotions), then that’s just intelligence. You don’t apply emotions to understand emotions; you reflect on them (intelligence), especially to understand other’s emotions and behavior often employing projection (an error prone practice to begin with; usually falls under assumption-of-motive for me). I would not call that emotional intelligence, I would call it what it is, awareness of ones emotions, perhaps understanding of one’s emotions, or more likely both.

Emotions, including sympathy, are impulse reactions to stimulus, and not intelligent. Applying intelligence to recognize them (in yourself and others), control them, understand them, or in any other way manage them is a matter of intelligence.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Sinqer “Emotions are unconsciously manifested and reactive to stimulus. Applying intelligence is a purely conscious endeavor.”

One can exercise conscious control of one’s emotions, however, as well as learn to feel a particular way. And since this is the case, it makes perfect sense to talk about intelligent and unintelligent releases of emotion. It’s not smart to hold grudges, for example, but grudges are ultimately emotional responses to past events. Luckily, one can learn to let things go.

Moreover, applying intelligence is most definitely not a purely conscious endeavor. It is in the beginning, of course. But there are things one learns that slowly become automatic and require no conscious effort to do. Driving is an obvious example, but problem solving is a more clearly cognitive example. When we deal with the same sort of problems frequently, we become better at just “seeing” what the solution is rather than having to dedicate our attention to it.

Zyx's avatar

I started my answer with “Language, it isn’t that hard.” and then I made a mistake. Embarrassing stuff.

Sinqer's avatar

@SavoirFaire I would totally disagree.
Exercising conscious intelligent control over one’s emotions does not make emotions intelligent by any means. It simply means that we can train ourselves with our intelligence to alter our reactive behavior. Management of emotions is an application of intelligence (i.e. the intelligent or unintelligent release of emotions). Letting grudges go is a perfect example of one applying their intelligence to train their reactive behavior.

It is actually a purely conscious endeavor on two counts. First it is that which trains the behavior (i.e. all the many actions during driving, as you said, the beginning). And secondly, the automated driving you are referring to is not an application of intelligence at the time. The person is not applying intelligence during automated, reflexive, or emotionally reactive actions; they are performing trained reactions to stimulus… see green light, go. But that thought process is not employed consciously, and is not an application of intelligence, though the training of said reaction was an application of intelligence.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Sinqer “Exercising conscious intelligent control over one’s emotions does not make emotions intelligent by any means.”

No one is claiming that the emotions themselves are intelligent. Emotions have neither brains nor minds. But ways of expressing or reacting to emotions can reveal a type of intelligence on behalf of the one expressing or reacting to them.

“It simply means that we can train ourselves with our intelligence to alter our reactive behavior. Management of emotions is an application of intelligence (i.e. the intelligent or unintelligent release of emotions). Letting grudges go is a perfect example of one applying their intelligence to train their reactive behavior.”

This is literally what I just said. I'm not sure how you can simultaneously say that you "would totally disagree" while parroting my own words back at me.

“the automated driving you are referring to is not an application of intelligence at the time.”

It doesn't have to be. That's the whole point. A response can be the result of intelligence—and therefore display the existence and application of intelligence—without involving a contemporaneous act of intelligence. Planning ahead is one of the functions of intelligence, after all. We automate now what might be too difficult or too time consuming in the moment because that is the intelligent thing to do—which makes both our current planning and our later execution of that plan intelligent acts (regardless of when the intelligence was applied).

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