Emotional Intelligence has become an important buzzword for both career and personal success. But what exactly is it? The term “emotional intelligence” was originally created by researchers Peter Salavoy and John Mayer, and made popular by Daniel Goleman’s breakthrough, bestselling 1996 book of the same name.

They relied on two main elements in their definition:

  1. The ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions.
  2. The ability to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.

The key to emotional intelligence, also referred to as EQ or emotional quotient, is understanding how emotions can drive our own behavior and impact other people both positively and negatively. Mastering emotional intelligence involves learning to manage not only your own emotions, but those of others – particularly those you work with or have personal relationships with – even when you are under pressure. Those who are able to use emotions effectively to motivate, plan and achieve in their own lives have the highest levels of emotional intelligence.

Why Are Emotions So Important?

Emotions are actually the driving force behind all of your learning and decision-making. They are responsible for your creativity and success (or lack of success) in relationships. And they also have a huge impact on both your mental and physical health and well-being. No wonder emotional intelligence has become such a popular topic.

Careers and Success

A new study found that there was a very strong positive correlation between success scores and emotional intelligence scores. The study evaluated more than 75,000 people, focusing on managers and employees in more than 15 work sectors spanning 126 countries. Success was defined as a combination of effectiveness (ability to get results through influence and decision-making), relationships (ability to build and maintain work and community networks), wellbeing (ability to maintain optimal energy and functioning for balance and health), and quality of life (ability to maintain balance and fulfillment for overall achievement and satisfaction).

Mental Health & Well-Being

A number of studies have shown that individuals with a higher emotional intelligence score are better able to deal with stress and negative emotions, and are also more likely to seek out counseling and/or psychotherapy in times of need. There have also been indications that emotional intelligence may help to protect adolescents from serious psychological problems. In other words, tuning into and understanding both your own emotions and those of the people around you can help you in maintaining better mental health and a stronger sense of well-being.

Social Relationships

These studies also pointed towards those with higher emotional intelligence scores having more positive relationships with friends and parents. Emotional intelligence also helps individuals in navigating and maintaining successful romantic relationships. One study even found those with lower emotional intelligence scores to be more aggressive and therefore more prone to conflict and harmful personal lifestyle choices.

For more information on understanding and improving your emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman continues to be considered the ultimate expert, conducting research and sharing his ever-broadening insights internationally.