Emotional Intelligence : Meaning and Significance

Learn how you can enhance your Emotional Intelligence to succeed in life.

Aarohi Lakhera
6 min readJan 17, 2024

What is Emotional Intelligence?

The term was coined by two researchers Peter Salavey and John Mayer in their article “Emotional Intelligence” in the journal Imagination, Cognition, and Personality in 1990. Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist and author, later popularized it in his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence.

The ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.

— Salovey & Mayer, 1990

In simple words, emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability of a person to recognize, observe, understand, manage, and regulate his emotions as well as the emotions of others. It involves being aware of your and others’ emotions and using this awareness for personal growth, to build strong relationships, and to make sound decisions. It plays a crucial role in the personal, professional, and social life of a person.

The emotional intelligence of a person is not a fixed trait and can be developed and enhanced over time by self-awareness, practice, and learning. The improvement or damage of EI depends upon life experiences. It tends to gradually develop as one grows older. It is also different for men and women. An analysis of emotional intelligence found that women, on average, are more aware of their emotions, show more empathy, and are more adept interpersonally. Men are more self-confident, optimistic, and adaptable.

The capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”

— Daniel Goleman

Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence

  • Self-awareness — Self-awareness is the ability to recognize and understand your emotions, personality, strengths, weaknesses, values, and goals. It involves introspection and being in tune with your feelings and reactions. Self-awareness includes being conscious of how your emotions can affect your thoughts, actions, and interactions with others. It forms the basis for improving other aspects of emotional intelligence, such as self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. It enables you to make more informed and emotionally intelligent decisions in various areas of your life.
  • Self-management — Self-management is the skill of regulating and managing one’s emotions, behaviors, and reactions in an effective way. It means being able to control impulses, adapt to changing situations, and handle stress and difficult situations constructively. This aspect of emotional intelligence helps individuals manage their emotions and responses in a way that leads to better decision-making, improved relationships, and overall well-being.
  • Social Awareness — Social awareness is the ability to understand and accurately interpret the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people. It involves being aware of the feelings and experiences of those around you and showing genuine empathy and interest in their well-being. Social awareness includes the skill of recognizing non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, and understanding the unspoken emotions of others. This aspect of emotional intelligence helps individuals build better interpersonal relationships, communicate effectively, and respond with sensitivity and consideration to the emotions and needs of others.
  • Relationship Management —Relationship management refers to the skillset required to establish and maintain positive relationships with others. It involves utilizing emotional intelligence skills to navigate complex social situations, communicate effectively, and constructively resolve conflicts. Active listening, assertiveness, empathy, and the ability to influence and inspire others positively are some of the essential skills required for effective relationship management. This skillset also includes the ability to adapt to different personalities and situations, work collaboratively, and build trust. Relationship management plays a crucial role in creating and sustaining healthy personal and professional connections.

Significance of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence plays a crucial role in our lives in every aspect and field. Some expert suggests that it might be more important than IQ (Intelligence Quotient) for success in life. High emotional intelligence is associated with better mental health, stronger relationships, increased empathy, effective communication, and overall well-being.

Following are the major abilities where emotional intelligence plays a vital role.

  • Personal Growth — Developing emotional intelligence helps in personal growth and self-improvement by enhancing self-awareness, emotional regulation, and overall better mental health.
  • Reducing Stress — Individuals with high EI are adept at facing challenging situations and working under pressure. They do not get overwhelmed by emotions and make sound decisions even in a high-stress scenario.
  • Better Decision-Making — A high emotional intelligence enables individuals to effectively evaluate situations and make informed decisions by considering the perspectives of others.
  • Strong Relationships — Emotional intelligence helps in building and maintaining healthy relationships over a long period. Abilities like empathy, conflict resolution, and effective communication come into play.
  • Workplace Success — Today, emotional intelligence is seen as a skill set in workplaces. People with high EI have proven to do well in their careers which makes them an asset for society. Skills like leadership, teamwork and collaboration, and conflict resolutions and included.

How to enhance emotional intelligence?

Practice Self-Awareness

  • Reflect on your emotions: Take time to identify and understand your feelings.
  • Keep a journal: Write down your thoughts, emotions and actions regularly. This can help you track patterns in your feelings and reactions.
  • Seek feedback: Ask trusted friends, family members, or colleagues for their honest assessments of your emotional behavior.

Improve Self-Regulation

  • Pause and breathe: When faced with a strong emotion, take a moment to pause, take a deep breath, and think before reacting.
  • Practice mindfulness and meditation: These techniques can help you become more aware of your emotions and give you the space to choose how you respond.
  • Set and enforce boundaries: Establish clear boundaries for yourself in various aspects of your life, and stick to them.

Cultivate Empathy

  • Actively listen: Pay close attention to what others are saying without interrupting or formulating a response in your mind. Show that you are engaged in the conversation.
  • Put yourself in others’ shoes: Try to understand their perspective.
  • Practice non-judgment: Avoid making hasty judgments about others. You must remember that each person has their own experiences and emotions.

Develop Interpersonal Skills

  • Communicate effectively: Use clear and respectful language when expressing yourself. Be considerate of both verbal and nonverbal cues.
  • Show appreciation: Acknowledge and validate the feelings and contributions of others. Express gratitude when appropriate.
  • Resolve conflicts constructively: Approach disagreements with the intention of finding a mutually beneficial solution. Focus on understanding each other’s needs.

Continue Learning and Growing

  • Read about emotions and emotional intelligence: There are many books and resources available that can provide valuable insights and techniques for improving emotional intelligence.
  • Attend workshops or seminars: Participate in training programs focused on emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills.
  • Seek professional guidance: Consider working with a coach, therapist, or counselor who can provide personalized support and guidance.

Practice Empathy and Compassion

  • Participate in acts of kindness: Small acts of kindness develop compassion in a person. This can nurture a sense of connection and empathy.
  • Volunteer or help others: Engaging in charitable activities offers an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of others’ needs and experiences.

Developing emotional intelligence is a lifelong journey. Be patient with yourself and celebrate your progress along the way. Consistent effort and self-reflection can lead to significant improvements in your emotional intelligence over time.



Aarohi Lakhera

Cultivating mindfulness and high spirits. Writing about mental health and other psychological aspects.