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Managing with emotional intelligence

Ian Martin

Intro summarise main points and TOC.

What is emotional intelligence?

American Psychologist, Howard Gardner, first proposed the idea of multiple intelligences in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

Gardner was intent on widening the scope of intelligence in education to beyond cognitive intelligence. The kind of intelligence measured by IQ or psychometric tests. These tests were very popular in the US and UK as a way of determining/predicting ability.

He came up with 12 types of intelligence, musical, spatial... and  intra-personal and inter personal.

Intra- meaning within. So intra-personal within yourself. And inter- meaning between. So inter-personal between yourself and other people.

New York Times' science journalist, Daniel Goleman, picked up Gardner's idea in the 1990's and published his book Emotional Intelligence in 1995.

Emotional intelligence is Goleman's term for what Gardner called intra-personal and inter-personal intelligence It describes how well you can recognise and manage your emotions and those of other people.

Goleman argued that a much more reliable indicator of success in life was your EQ - your emotional intelligence – rather than your IQ. Prior to Gardner and Goleman IQ was everything.

Now don't get hung up on the word intelligence. I know it could imply that if you aren't able to do this stuff then you are somehow stupid or somehow you are to blame. I don't want you to think like that. Think of it as a skill you can practise - something we can all get better at no matter what point we are starting from.

Like other skills such as driving a car, playing an instrument, or managing your time effectively, recognising and dealing with your emotions doesn’t happen naturally or occur overnight.

How do you manage with emotional intelligence?

I'm using the term 'managing' broadly here. Managing people at work if you are a manager in that sense or managing your work life or home life if you are not. Managing the kids or your partner, family or friends. We all have stuff to manage.

Managing effectively involves recognising and managing emotions in yourself as well as in other people.

Maintaining a non-reactive, non-judgmental stance, and being sensitive to the emotions of others, increases the likelihood that your actions and responses will be appropriate to the situation. It also means you will be better equipped to deal with mental health issues for yourself and others.

Emotional intelligence can be subdivided into four domains or stages. These are:

  1. Self-awareness – The ability to recognise your own emotions and to understand how these emotions affect your thoughts and behaviours.

  2. Self-management – The ability to control and manage your emotions in mentally healthy ways, to maintain a positive problem solving outlook, and to adapt to changing circumstances.

  3. Social awareness – The ability to observe and understand the emotions of other people both individually and in a group or organisational setting. [Dynamics]

  4. Relationship management – The ability to create/ nurture positive relationships, to bring out the best in people.

Looking at those four domains now, in what ways do you think emotional intelligence is important for:

  • Managing your mental health?
  • Personal resilience and managing stress?
  • Organisational resilience?

Digging into the domains

Here are the four domains with some typical competencies mapped to each one. Note that the first two domains relate to your personal competences. the second two domains are social.

[check emotional intelligence 2.0 book]

[4 domains image]

Self awareness

Learning to recognise your own emotions is the first step in improving your emotional intelligence. It is also crucial to your mental health.

There are a lot of emotions. Tiffany Watt Smith compiled a list of 177 [?] for her Book of Emotions. Check out the list below.

Self management

Emotional health is an important part of mental health. Once you learn to recognise your emotions then you can begin manage them.

On the rare occasion we are confronted with a real danger situation and we truly need to fight or run away then we should let our emotional brain do its job.

Most of the time, however, situations we need to deal with at work and at home require a more sophisticated response. So we need to engage our rational brain.

This means taking time to pause and think before you respond. This is why ‘take a deep breath before you answer’ is very sound advice.

This useful pause for thought can be summarised in the phrase:

Respond don't React

Learning to respond rather than react is a skill that takes practice.

Learn to Respond, Not React

You need a certain degree of emotional detachment to step back from a situation and see it with the required perspective.

Remember, you are not your emotions. You change your emotions by changing the way you think.

Social awareness

Recognising emotions in others.

Some basic emotions are universally recognisable across eastern and western cultures and from the very young to old. You can recognise them in animals as well as humans.

In 1972, US psychologist Paul Ekman presented photographs of different facial expressions to individuals in remote tribes and asked them to identify the emotions. He identified a list of six universally-recognisable basic emotions as a result.

See if you can recognise the six basic emotions Ekman identified that are represented by the facial expressions of the six emojis below. Try the six FACS faces if you are struggling with the emojis.


[facs - Documents/Emotional Intelligence/Emotional Expressions Reconsidered- Challenges to Inferring Emotion From Human Facial Movements.pdf]

Complex emotions

Humans beings are thinking machines. As a result, our emotions are often much more subtle than outright anger, fear, surprise, happiness, sadness and disgust. These other emotions are known as complex emotions.

Robert Plutchik created a ‘wheel of emotions’ that extended Ekman’s six basic emotions to eight and illustrated the relationship between basic and some complex emotions. The most

Why do we have emotions?

Our brains are part rational mind (prefrontal cortex) and part emotional mind (limbic system). When information enters our brain some of it bypasses the rational thinking mind and enters the amygdala in the limbic system. If we need to act quickly then our amygdala will cause us to act without thinking about it. The limbic system reacts 80,000 times more quickly than the rational mind. This is a survival mechanism that helps keep us alive.

Reacting to dangerous events quickly rather than wasting time mulling things over can stop us getting killed. The amygdala and our limbic system fulfil important roles, but they can take over when we would rather they didn’t. Ever jumped when you heard a loud noise? Or been frightened by a sheet on a washing line in the dark? Amygdala hijack occurs when an emotional response is overwhelming and out of proportion with the actual stimulus.

The more often your amygdala takes over the less chance there is for your rational mind to operate. You may become preoccupied with the possibility of threat as your heightened awareness constantly scans the environment looking for danger. Cognitive functions such as memory and rational thought may deteriorate as a result.

What does emotional intelligence look like?

2.0 book.


Reading List

Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves - Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Daniel Goleman - Emotional Intelligence

Tiffany Watt Smith - The Book of Human Emotions: An Encyclopedia