What is emotional intelligence

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a concept that has been around for a few decades, but came into popular awareness following the publication of Daniel Goleman’s 1995 best-seller by the same title. While many people intuitively understand that EI represents an important dimension of personality, it is tricky to define and, as yet, there is no good way to measure it. But like pornography, we know it when we see it – and more conspicuously, when it’s lacking.

“My husband has a tin ear for emotions,” one of my patients complained. Another a middle-aged man of high intelligence accurately observed that he never gets along in the workplace, but doesn’t know why. He has therefore chosen to work by himself. “I guess my IQ is much higher than my EQ,” he said. I knew exactly what he meant – and agreed with him. At the same time, as a psychiatrist and researcher, I am aware that while a person’s intelligence quotient (IQ) can be accurately and reliably measured, and has been shown to be a good predictor of certain types of performance, nobody has yet been able to measure Emotional Intelligence in a reliable or valid way.

Despite these caveats here are some basic elements that are generally accepted as part of Emotional Intelligence – and what you can do to improve them.

Healthy-Emotions1. Self-Awareness
Throughout the day we continuously experience emotions. These may arise mysteriously or in reaction to things that happen, including triggers from the past. These triggers can be as recent as what happened in the traffic on the way to work or as distant as an event from childhood. Something we see or hear may trigger these emotional responses, which often occur outside of our awareness. So, the key question is how do we become more aware of what we are feeling? This is important because our emotions can influence how we are perceived and how we treat others, not to mention the quality of our lives.

A. Simply ask yourself, “How am I feeling today?” That question will help you focus on your emotional brain – a special set of circuits devoted to experiencing, regulating and expressing emotions?” In addition, the question encourages you to view your own emotions as important and valid.
B. Scan your body, which often provides important clues. Are you clenching the steering wheel of the car? If so, maybe you are angry. Do you have a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach before a work meeting? Perhaps you are anxious. So, every different emotion has its own way of registering in your body – a way that may differ from person to person.
C. Ask somebody else how you are feeling. This may sound rather strange, and I’m certainly not suggesting you should make a daily habit of it – or you may appear rather strange. But at key points in time there may be value to asking this question of someone you trust, as studies show that others are often better judges of how we are feeling than we ourselves are.

2. Reading Emotions in Others and Empathy

One of the principle values of emotion is that it serves as a communication to others. Think of a monkey in a colony who perceives a predator and expresses fear. The monkeys all around will read the signal and run for cover even before they perceive the predator themselves. Their ability to perceive fear in their fellow monkey might just have saved their lives. Now shift to your office when your boss comes in with visible signs of anger. A cartoonist would show him with high color in his face and smoke coming out of his ears. Is this a good time to ask him or her for a raise? I don’t think so. The woman I mentioned above who complained that her husband had a tin ear for emotions was referring to his poor ability to read her. When she was upset he might launch into a description of how well he was doing at work. Such poor reading of her emotions led to endless difficulties. So what can you do about it?

A. Make a more conscious effort to look at the facial or bodily expressions of those around you. You’d be surprised at how much you can detect if you just put your mind to it – a frown, a shrug, a roll of the eyes, a click of the tongue – all of these may seem like minor gestures but may reveal a wealth of information.
B. Check in with the other person – selectively! For example, I wouldn’t recommend that you say to your boss, “You look very angry. What’s the matter?” He’s unlikely to appreciate that. In contrast, the wife of the man with the tin ear would probably very much appreciate it if he said to her, “What’s the matter dear, have you had a hard day?” Especially if that were followed by, “Is there anything I can do to help?”
C. Practice. Like anything else, empathy improves with practice and it’s certainly a strength worth cultivating. For a shining example of its rewards look at Bill Clinton whose trademark comment, “I feel your pain,” showed a key to his success – until the evening stand-ups go ahold of it.


Illustrated by Karen Lauria – www.imagekind.com

3. Emotional Regulation
All of us have our ups and downs, our good times and bad, but we vary as to how well we regulate these fluctuations. In some people – like those with bipolar disorder – moods can swing wildly. In people with anxiety disorders – such as in panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder – anxiety levels can go through the roof. But even apart from these extremes, many people experience fluxes in how they feel that are too extreme for comfort. What can you do about this?

A. Learn to name your feelings, as mentioned above.
B. Watch them come and go – as feelings tend to do. Imagine you are a visitor to an aquarium, watching your feelings swim by through the protective glass panel. Your depression, anxiety, happiness, and relief swim by like stingrays, sharks, minnows, and angel fish. Just realizing that feelings come and go is a great source of comfort in itself.
C. Meditate. There are many studies that show that meditation can reduce anxiety and extreme reactions to stress. Since starting to practice Transcendental Meditation about five years ago, I have been astonished at how much less anxious I feel.
D. Exercise regularly. Studies show that this can reduce levels of anxiety and depression, and many of you may have had that very experience.
E. Talk to a friend. Studies show that a person’s blood pressure is lower when measured in the company of a friend than when that person is alone. Friends can help you to regulate emotions even by such commonplace responses as, “Don’t despair. Things are sure to improve,” or, “Chill out, you’re getting too worked up over nothing.”

4. Expressing Emotions
This skill follows logically from all the other skills mentioned above. If you can perceive emotions in yourself and others, and if you can regulate your own emotions, you are three-quarters the way there. If you express your emotions well, you will be more successful. It’s as simple as that. If the husband with the tin ear becomes a better listener, his relationship with his wife will improve – and so will his relationships with his boss, his colleagues and friends. Regardless of where you are, Emotional Intelligence can be key to your success and well-being.

So good luck in raising your EQ, even if nobody can measure it properly.

Wishing you Light and Transcendence,


emotional revolution
Additional Resources:

The Gift of Adversity

The Emotional Revolution

Emotional Intelligence: 10 Ways to Enhance Yours

– Diagnosing your own Depression: Signs and Symptoms

16 Replies to “What is Emotional Intelligence?”

  1. C Rajeev says:


    No one should remain idle most of the time.

    Meditation or any spiritual activity can be practised for a short span of time.

    Hence, we must learn to spend leisure time in constructive ways like painting, learning to play a musical instrument, learning and listening to melodious music, writing articles ( research oriented and innovative) to leading magazines, collecting and reading good books,et cetera….

    We must remember always….A dull mind is a devil’s workshop.

    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.


  2. C Rajeev says:

    We must stay away from unwanted thoughts, which are pestering our mind.

    The best option is to focus our attention on reading interesting articles, listening to fine music ( not rattling music) , writing constructive articles, writing sacred names of favourite God repeatedly in a notebook ( so that the mind stays away from unwanted thoughts)

    It is to be mentioned that we must have some subject for the mind to think and act upon ( in the materialistic level).

    In the same analogy, the mind must have a mantra to act as a vehicle first, to transcend the gross level.

  3. C Rajeev says:

    We must train our mind not to behave in an erratic manner, even amidst a highly stressful environment.

    The capable person must deploy his self control and intelligence to remain calm and act in a smart way.

    An advanced meditator never gets irritated or agitated for petty incidents and he applies his calm mind to resolve various issues in day to day life.

    This is the external mark of a good meditator.

  4. C Rajeev says:

    Many people are in the habit of brooding over the past and worrying about their future. This must be done away with.

    Past is past and future is uncertain. So, we must concentrate on the present.

    Past and future are totally irrelevant in the present.

    A man said…

    Oh God! I constantly prayed before you to become rich…But, you made me as a common man, to make me humble.

    Oh God! I prayed to you to make me powerful, but, you made me as a simple man, so that I can be more devoted to You and the world.

    Prayer never goes in vain…People who constantly pray to God get more than what they expect, even though they are not getting exactly what they sought during prayer.

  5. C Rajeev says:

    People practising TM must learn to reduce and regulate their intake of food.

    They must learn to eat to only 60% of their stomach ,leave the rest to drink water and empty space.

    If meditators are eating too much, they cannot reach the meditative state of alertness. Instead, they will feel sleepy or drowsy.

    The nature of food we take decides the nature of our mind.

    If we eat a lot before sleep at night, the food will not digest easily and the sleep might be disturbed.

    The main purpose of eating ( for a medtator) should be to strengthen the body and to drive away appetite.

  6. C Rajeev says:

    Regular meditators are able to understand life better and appreciate finer aspects of day to day affairs.

    In due course of practice, regular meditators develop refined taste in everything. They see the entire world ifrom a new perspective.

  7. C.Rajeev says:

    There is a concept called ” Conscious Control” .
    If we want a moving vehicle to stop, we have to apply the brakes, making a conscious effort. A moving vehicle cannot be stopped automatically.

    In the same analogy, every person must learn to make some conscious effort, whenever required.

    Nothing happens on its own accord. Atleast, a very small effort is needed.

    Unless a student writes the examination, he or she will not know whether the result is success or failure.

    Unless a person deposits some money into his account, how can the account be credited with the money?

  8. C.Rajeev says:

    Suppose a person has a bad habit, say, drinking a lot of coffee, eating too much, sleeping too much, excessive smoking or drinking, et cetera.

    In such circumstances, such people must exert some conscious control over their habits.

    Unless we make some conscious control to refrain ourselves from such bad habits, we will never succeed in repeating such traits.

    We must learn to reprogram our mind, or, give auto suggestions to our emotional set up so that our habits are amended for the better.

    If we feel anxious about certain things in life, we must try to control the grief, and try to induce some good, positive thoughts in our mind.

  9. C.Rajeev says:

    As responsible citizens of the world, we must strive to do our duties to the best of our abilities. Only after doing whatever we are destined to do, we must surrender before God Almighty.

    I agree with Mr Robin Sharma for his precious words, ” Your timing is not necessarily Nature’s timing”.

    Please see. www.robinsharma.com

    He is an inspirational writer.

  10. C.Rajeev says:

    One of the inspirational writers is Dr Wayne W Dyer.

    Please see


  11. C.Rajeev says:

    There are two ideas, viz., making it happen and letting it happen.

    When we are making conscious efforts, then it is ” making it happen” .In this process, there is some conscious effort from our side.

    If we are meditating or surrendered before God Almighty, then it is called ” letting it happen” . In this process, there is no conscious effort from our side.

  12. C.Rajeev says:

    Everyone must realise the importance of books, in this technological era.

    We must develop the habit of reading self improvement books.

    Such books motivate us a lot and help us lead a successful life.

    Everyone must spend some money on buying precious books and keep an almirah in their houses to store books.

    They can even share these books with their own family members and close friends.

    Good books always induce good ideas among readers.

  13. C.Rajeev says:

    Knowledge alone does not make a person great.

    The net worth of any person is determined by many factors such as knowledge, wealth ( which includes the financial assets, fixed assets, having a four wheeler) , appearance, helping charity with money, etc

    It is quite understandable that nothing comes free of cost in this world.

    Everyone provides a service and earns the money in return.

    The shop keeper supplies the products for money.

    The Electricity department provides electricity by collecting the necessary charges.

    But, even though money is an important aspect of life, it must not be the main purpose of life.

  14. C.Rajeev says:

    The ideas that we read in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is worth mentioning here.

    The basic needs such as hunger, and thirst are the main priorities in life. Next comes, clothing and shelter.

    Only after fulfilling the above basic needs, a person is accessing the next higher level of need, that is, education, job, money making, etc….

    Thereafter, we have social, emotional and intellectual needs.

    Then we have the status needs, to keep up our prestige in the competitive world, viz., having a luxurious house, a posh four wheeler, etc

    On the top of the pyramid, we have the spiritual needs, which is indicated as the last requirement, after the fulfilment of all the basic needs.

  15. C.Rajeev says:

    There is a concept called ” empowered “.

    Unless there is electricity, the bulb cannot glow.

    Unless there is enough fuel, a vehicle cannot move.

    Likewise, a person must be empowered with knowledge, health and money, basically.

    In other words, if a person wants to increase his or her ” net worth”, he or she must be empowered with the above qualities.

    The Bible says…” A man does not live by bread alone”.

    A person must have a lot of pristine qualities or characteristics, in order to make him / her
    feel great.

    Certain people become great due to the presence of certain special characteristics in their life.

    A person who is very handsome or a woman who is beautiful becomes the centre of attraction to everyone and they get the attention of the media.

  16. C.Rajeev says:

    I like the YouTube video clip ” I declare” .

    If you type the words ” I declare” in the search bar of YouTube , you will get a splendid video clip, which is full of rich meaning.

    I request everyone to enjoy this clip.

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