What is Emotional Intelligence?

Originally John Mayer and Peter Salovey (1997) defined emotional intelligence as involving the abilities to –

  • to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings,
  • to discriminate among them, and
  • to use this information to guide’s one thinking and action.


However, since 1997, Mayer and Salovey have defined emotional intelligence as –

  • the ability to perceive emotions,
  • to access and generate emotions to assist thought,
  • to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and
  • to reflectively regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth (Mayer & Salovey, 1997).


Daniel Goleman has written a few books on this subject including Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ,Working with Emotional Intelligence and The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights and has worked with the the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). CASEL refers to five areas of social and emotional learning. They include

  • self-awareness,
  • self-management,
  • social awareness,
  • relationship skills and
  • responsible decision-making.

Daniel talks more about his take on emotional intelligence in this talk he did at Google a few years ago.

Some people indicate Emotional Quotient (EQ) is more Important to Success than IQ, however I would say it is another piece of the puzzle and something we have to be aware of (which we can cultivate through self-compassion and mindfulness) and recognise within ourselves. I talk about it a little more in the post – your feelings matter, are you taking notice of yours?

We also need to remember, that feelings or emotions are not essentially us (neither are our thoughts), they are an experience. As Rumi so eloquently said in I’ll Meet You There – “Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing there is a field. I will meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense”.

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