What is emotional intelligence?

EI has its roots in the concept of "social intelligence," first identified by E.L. Thorndike in 1920.

* abstract intelligence (the ability to understand and manipulate with verbal and mathematic symbols), * concrete intelligence (the ability to understand and manipulate with objects) * and social intelligence (the ability to understand and relate to people) (Ruisel, 1992). Thorndike (1920: 228), defined social intelligence as "the ability to understand and manage men and women, boys and girls -- to act wisely in human relations." And (1983) includes inter- and intrapersonal intelligences in his theory of multiple intelligences.

* Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand other people: what motivates them, how they work, how to work cooperatively with them. Successful salespeople, politicians, teachers, clinicians, and religious leaders are all likely to be individuals with high degrees of interpersonal intelligence.

* Intrapersonal intelligence ... is a correlative ability, turned inward. It is a capacity to form an accurate, veridical model of oneself and to be able to use that model to operate effectively in life.

Emotional intelligence, on the other hand, "is a type of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one's thinking and actions" (Mayer & Salovey, 1993: 433). According to Salovey & Mayer (1990), EI subsumes Gardner's inter- and intrapersonal intelligences, and involves abilities that may be categorized into five domains:

1) Self-awareness:
Observing yourself and recognizing a feeling as it happens.

2) Managing emotions:
Handling feelings so that they are appropriate; realizing what is behind a feeling; finding ways to handle fears and anxieties, anger, and sadness.

3) Motivating oneself:
Channeling emotions in the service of a goal; emotional self control; delaying gratification and stifling impulses.

4) Empathy:
Sensitivity to others' feelings and concerns and taking their perspective; appreciating the differences in how people feel about things.

5) Handling relationships:
Managing emotions in others; social competence and social skills. Self-awareness (intrapersonal intelligence), empathy and handling relationships (interpersonal intelligence) are essentially dimensions of social intelligence. See the Time magazine piece for an overview of emotional intelligence. Their article basically summarizes Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence book in a few simple pages, interjecting other experts' opinions and pieces of research to lend to a more balanced critique of emotional intelligence. In addition, look st the piece on emotional intelligence from a Hindu newspaper article. It offers a more theoretical and historical perspective on emotional intelligence.

Why is emotional intelligence important?
social skills, interpersonal competence, psychological maturity and emotional awareness
"raise[ing] the level of social and emotional competence" (Goleman, 1995: 262).
leadership, group performance, individual performance, interpersonal/social exchange, managing change, and conducting performance evaluations.
"Emotional intelligence, the skills that help people harmonize, should become increasingly valued as a workplace asset in the years to come."