Emotional Intelligence: The Art of Feeling

Would you say that you’re emotionally intelligent? Let me ask you some questions and you can decide for yourself.

  1. Do you have the capacity to accurately perceive emotions in facial expressions and voices?
  2. Can you use emotions to guide your thinking?
  3. Do you understand what different emotions mean and the information associated with them?
  4. Can you regulate and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others?

According to John Mayer’s Four-Branch Model of Emotional Intelligence (Perceiving emotion, Facilitation, Understanding emotion and Managing emotion), people who are capable in each of the above areas are high in Emotional Intelligence.

Reuven Bar-On (leading psychologist) explained that emotional-social intelligence is an array of interrelated emotional and social competencies and skills that determine how effectively individuals understand and express themselves, understand others and relate with them, and cope with daily demands, challenges and pressures.

Components of Emotional Intelligence

Goleman’s (the Father of Emotional Intelligence) Emotional Quotient theory comprises five core components: empathy, effective communication or social skills, self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation.

1. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings and emotions. It is being able to place yourself in someone else’s shoes and feel what they must be feeling in that situation. It builds trust, encourages vulnerability and promotes personal growth and development.

You can work on developing empathy by:

  • Listening more than you talk
  • Understanding how to read body language
  • Examining your biases which may influence your ability to listen and empathise
  • Trying to see things from the other person’s point of view

2. Social Skills (Effective Communication)

Emotional intelligence is more than just understanding your own emotions and those of others; you must be able to use the information you get in your daily interactions. Social skills such as verbal and nonverbal communication skills, active listening skills and persuasiveness allow you to build meaningful relationships with others and develop a stronger understanding of them and yourself.

You get better at social interaction by:

  • Asking open-ended questions. These are questions that cannot be answered with only a yes or a no.
  • Learning from other people’s social skills
  • Practicing good eye contact
  • Showing interest in others
  • Watching your body language (because it says a lot more than you think)

3. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is being able to recognize your own emotions and understand them as well as being aware of the effect your actions, moods, and emotions have on others. When you are self-aware, you know your personal strengths and weaknesses. It is said that a self-aware person knows when to step back and question their emotional state and thoughts before acting.

To improve your self-awareness:

  • Pay attention to your thoughts and emotions by practicing mindfulness
  • Use positive self-talk
  • Work on building a growth mindset
  • Identify your triggers to help manage your own emotions
  • Keep a journal so you can reflect and learn from your experiences
  • Consider how your actions affect those around you

4. Self-Regulation

To be emotionally intelligent you need to be able to regulate and manage your emotions. This doesn’t mean bottling up your emotions or hiding how you really feel, it just means that you understand the right place and time to express them appropriately. You can turn negative thoughts and feelings into positive ones, knowing that sometimes you need to pause and get your emotions under control before you act.

Here are some strategies for Self-Regulation include:

  • Be attentive to your thoughts and feelings
  • Use cognitive reframing to change thought patterns and emotional responses
  • Work on accepting your emotions and becoming more emotionally resilient
  • Develop distress tolerance skills to handle negative emotions
  • Know you always have a choice on how you respond
  • Prepare to take responsibility for your actions

5. Self-Motivation

Emotionally intelligent people are motivated by internal rewards (intrinsic motivation) and not just external rewards like fame or money. They have a passion to fulfill their own inner needs and goals.They set goals and look for ways to do better because they are action-oriented. They tend to be committed and can find it easy to motivate other people because they themselves are motivated.

You can become more self-motivated by:

  • Working on not being motivated by extrinsic rewards
  • Celebrating your results, no matter how small
  • Focusing on setting small, measurable goals
  • Working with a friend or classmate to make you more accountable
  • Reflecting on your progress and looking for ways to do better
  • Being open to change

Why is it important to improve your emotional intelligence skills?

Emotional intelligence affects our physical and mental health and when we build the right skills as outlined above, we will notice positive effects in our life. Here are some of the benefits you would get from practising good emotional intelligence skills:

  1. You are able to handle social situations with grace and make others feel at ease even in awkward social situations.
  2. Emotional intelligence helps you be a better leader.
  3. Emotional intelligence skills also allow you to easily empathise with the people around you because you understand how they are feeling and can communicate with them better.
  4. You are able to develop and maintain strong interpersonal relationships. This enables you to build a strong social support network, which plays a pivotal role in both physical and mental health.
  5. You are more aware of your feelings which helps you to understand yourself deeply. This understanding also allows you to develop self-control when you teach yourself how to act despite your feelings.
  6. You are able to manage your emotions effectively, so you are less likely to be controlled by negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and depression.
  7. You are better at recognizing stress triggers and employing healthy coping mechanisms which help reduce anxiety and depression and improve resilience. Lower stress levels also mean lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system and reduced risk of chronic diseases.
  8. Emotional intelligence helps you to make more informed and thoughtful decisions, even when under pressure.
  9. You are able to stay motivated and focused on your goals, even when it gets hard.
  10. Emotional intelligence can also help to increase your self-esteem. When you are able to understand and manage your emotions as well as that of others, you are more likely to feel confident and capable.

To conclude, I leave you these 2 quotes:

“There is nothing immoral about having an emotional problem to solve. No need to feel ashamed; it is not a weakness. Indeed, it is a weakness to be unable to admit to yourself that you are in distress.”

Wayne Payne

“Our level of emotional intelligence is not fixed genetically, nor does it develop only in early childhood. Unlike IQ, which changes little after our teen years, emotional intelligence seems to be largely learned, and it continues to develop as we go through life and learn from our experiences…”

Daniel Goleman

I am sure you may have noticed that some people are born with effective social skills, but don’t let that bother you if you struggle. It is said that when a human characteristic is labeled a skill it means it is learnable. It won’t take much time, as long as you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone. If you’re one of the lucky ones born with this, keep being you and strengthen those skills!

Omoyemen Aisuodionoe-Shadrach


  • 7 Habits of Emotionally Intelligent People
  • Emotional Intelligence Skills: 5 Components of EQ
  • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman: Social Skills – Wind4Change
  • How to Be More Empathetic
  • Eight Ways to Improve Your Empathy – Andrew Sobel
  • Want to feel more connected to others? Here’s how to be more empathetic
  • Emotional Intelligence: Why It’s Important for Mental Health and Tips to Achieve It
  • 5 Core Components of Emotional Intelligence and Leadership | EWF
  • 40 Emotional Intelligence Quotes and Do They Ring True


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