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Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

Emotional Intelligence, often shortened to EI or EQ (Emotional Quotient), was first mentioned in 1964 although become widely popular by the best selling book Emotional Intelligence by science journalist, Daniel Goleman.

Often referred to as 'soft skills' (ah don't get me started), they are particularly hard skills and characteristics to develop. At the Modern Mind Group, we offer training courses and workshops on Emotional Intelligence so we thought we would explain a little more on the subject for you to see how Emotional Intelligence fits into your world and matters to you.

Let's Jump in -

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is really about the capability to understand your own emotions, to manage those emotions and adapt your behaviour to different situations as and when you need to. It's also about looking at how you interact with other people, which can be called your social skills.

Are you able to effectively build relationships that have meaning or that are strong, genuine, authentic then ensuring that you have those for a lifetime or within your workplace?

We can break down emotional intelligence slightly further.

There are actually five key components to know and understand your emotions -

1. Knowing your Emotions

The ability to describe and explain the emotion you are experiencing. It isn't always as easy as we think. Anger and fear, for example, can be very closely linked. At times we may also experience more than one emotion at the same time, so it can get confusing.

2. Managing Your Emotions

It is one this to know our emotions. The next step is to manage them which is called self-regulation. It's about understanding know how the emotions are triggered and learning how you can respond rather than react.

3. Motivating Yourself and Others

Using your emotions and understanding your motivation based on pain and the gain, what you love and want out of life, versus what you don't want. If you can understand your motivations and then learn what motivates others you can help them to develop or perform. For example, leading a sports team or managing a team at work. This could also relate to encouraging someone to make a change in their life.

4. Understanding the Emotions of Others.

This is about learning to unlock empathy and compassion for others. To be able to learn reactions or through body language pick up that something may not be right with them. Some of this can be learned through people watching. The more you get to know yourself the easier it is to spot certain behaviour in others although be mindful not everything is as it seems. We must check for understanding and alignment. Be mindful and remember the analogy "just because you have a hammer, not everything is a nail"

5. Managing the Emotions of Others.

If you think about roles, such as a nurse, doctor, someone in the military, a counsellor, a therapist, somebody that has to manage the emotions of others or leaders within the workplace, these are where the demand for emotional intelligence is high. This is due to people management and high-pressure situations.

Situations where people are worried stressed, or anxious about a change or a process that's taken place. High emotional intelligence is about understanding those emotions that they're receiving and then reflecting on how they can adapt. Learning how to respond to help them to stay calm, to encourage them and support them to get through this particular change process or situation that they're experiencing.

"We can poke someone in the eye and it will really hurt, or we can go slowly and we can touch the whole eyeball pain-free." - Melissa Curran

That is what I say. That's what emotional intelligence is about. It's about taking that little bit more time to rephrase what you want to say and being prepared to say something in a different way to get a different response.

We can all go about poking people in the eye and saying very direct things that will hurt them. Remember people don't remember the words that you use, but they'll always remember the way that you made them feel.

Although you may be asking - What is it for you? Why do you need this emotional intelligence?

Well, you will have better mental health without a doubt, knowing your emotions and knowing how to manage your emotions and your energy levels will allow you to know when you need to take a break, step back, take some space from the relationship that you have to allow yourself some silence in amongst the noise or the chaos of life.

Greater job performance can be a benefit. Absolutely. The people that have the highest level of emotional intelligence, do have greater job performance and effective leadership of others. If you can't manage your own emotions, then it is highly unlikely that you'll be able to help somebody else manage theirs.

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?

Emotional intelligence is important to have a meaningful and fulfilling life. Harvard did the longest study on adult development that there has ever been. It was over 75 years and what they wanted to know was what constituted a good life, what made life good.

What they found from everyone that they studied over the 75 years was that it was about meaningful relationships. That's what made a great life! It was the relationships that the people had. Now, if you think about the relationships within your own life, you'll have your friends and family, your work network as well as your colleagues and your teammates. So there are different circles that you have these meaningful relationships within.

Understand that also as part of that, you want to have great relationships in all areas of your life. Emotional intelligence can definitely help you to do that.

Another great reason why emotional intelligence is so important is that depending on the role that you're doing, your emotions and the way that you process information situations and how you respond, behave or react is imperative to how the outcome will be.

Take the SAS, as an example, you have to have high emotional intelligence. People think of these people as hard military-driven individuals, but they are strong, critical thinkers. They have high emotional intelligence. They know when to use emotions and when not to, it would not be appropriate to show high emotions when you're just about to go into battle or you're just about to be deployed into military space. If you think of Andy Middleton on SAS who dares wins, for example, think about the way that they approach emotions and emotional response to situations. Okay. I'm not saying it's always right to turn off the emotions because they do need to be expressed at some point.

It's more about delaying that emotion that we have, take doctors, nurses or surgeons, they have to have a great level of emotional intelligence to be able to communicate with the patient's families, to be able to communicate with the patient themselves and manage the fact that they may be anxious, stressed or worried.

Ask yourself, how effective are you in doing that with the people around you when they feel worried and need that reassurance? Well, people that work in health care a lot more developed for actually doing this.

Then you've got therapists, people that work within psychology, counsellors and probation officers, these are the people that spend a lot of time helping people to look and reflect on their behaviour. You cannot change. Someone's mind if you cannot speak to their heart. It is really about creating that trust so that you can connect with that person. So they have to know how to, open up and know you respond to people because it all affects how a person feels.

Take cabin crew as another example in this role people see heightened situations where many people get on planes, there's turbulence, people are worried and the cabin crew are still serving the drinks, still serving the snacks, with a smile on their face, reassuring and keeping everybody else calm. It's habitual to them, but many great crew members have high emotional intelligence to understand circumstances, understand situations and adapt how they respond to those situations as well.

It really is absolutely crucial in so many different industries and so many different careers. It's about learning when to display, how, when to delay the emotion.

I'm sure that there are many delayed emotions that get expressed, especially when there are difficult times at work. When that person returns home and now that there is time or there is silence to process some of the things that happen during their day, it's not surprising that they let the emotions out. They have been holding themselves together all day or for weeks in some cases, not displaying them when they are within the workplace.

Emotional Intelligence helps us to be more diplomatic, reassure others and put them at ease. If you can understand circumstances, understand emotions, you can help other people to manage them and reassure them in the process.

High emotional intelligence through self-awareness will help you to know when you need self-care. We all have times when we are snappy or we notice that our patience is wearing thin. We start to get distressed, can't think or process things or forgetting things as well. This is when it is time to take a break from our consciousness.

Building trust with others is linked to emotional intelligence. It's about being compassionate and empathetic towards others so that you build trust and have strong relationships, which we've seen create a more fulfilling life.

It can help you to make difficult decisions. You've got the rational side, you've got your gut instincts or emotional state. When you can process your emotions you can ask yourself "what are my emotions trying to tell me?".

It is important to be able to motivate and lead others effectively.

If you are the leader of a military mission, you know, the team is being deployed and you have to motivate them to take action. If you act worried, nervous or scared by displaying those emotions, you are not going to motivate the rest of your team to get out of that helicopter or to jump into that water.

Let's go back to asking, "what is in it for you?" I'm going to go over it again -

Better mental health, great job performance, effective leadership of others and a more fulfilling life. The reason why I wanted to really hone in on this again, is that, did you know that you are much more likely to be earning £22,000 more per year when you have higher emotional intelligence? That is a big difference.

How Can I Improve Emotional Intelligence?

It's a long road though and just because you've read this article doesn't mean that you will improve overnight. If you think it is a one-way street, think again. There is no way that you can improve your emotional intelligence without the help of others.

It is very much about having that feedback, understanding and reflecting. There are three pieces of the circle around how you improve emotional intelligence, it's about receiving feedback, reflecting on the feedback that you've received, then creating actions or goals. Tweaking something, changing behaviour, slightly changing the language that you use, or the tone or the pitch of what you say, to get a different response. Then you receive feedback and reflect on that again. Was it good? Was it bad? Then you think about adapting further so realign goals.

The only thing that doesn't work is when you continue to stay on the train that you're on. If you think you do not need to change at all, then that is what we call a fixed mindset.

In order to improve your emotional intelligence, it is very much about having a growth mindset, understanding that we use the experiences and the learned experiences in our lives to adapt, make a change, and then move forward.

Let's look at the ways that we actually enable ourselves to improve our knowledge, the enablement star has all of these five pieces.

Coaching and Counseling

Somebody else is involved in the process with you like a mentor or a leader.


These can be a great way to improve. Make sure that you choose a course where you will receive feedback and there are practical assessments to assess change as well as knowledge.

Events and Conferences

For emotional intelligence, you have to interact with other people. You get a lot of feedback and reflection from events. even when the conversation is awkward or uneasy it is a learning opportunity.

Books and Articles

Of course, you can improve your knowledge with books and articles and with audio or video. Take this article as an example.

You might be asking which way is the most effective for improving emotional intelligence.

I would suggest coaching, counselling, mentorship or leadership, and if you check the course first then courses can be extremely effective.

And the reason for this is that you will receive feedback. You can track the changes or the different behaviours and see progress.

You can learn from books and articles, but it's about that implementation and action that leads to success.

Working on emotional intelligence and our journey to improve makes me think of the Emotioneering Triangle with the three points - Fear Courage and Confidence.

What tends to happen when you are looking to make changes is that you will be out of your comfort zone and that creates fear, anxiety, stress, it's uncomfortable to us. How much of each of the elements will differ from person to person. For example, Role-play or practising something new can make us feel uncomfortable. We are so used to the habitual routine of our life and the things that we usually say and do that it can be hard to try a different way.

The comfort zone keeps us is in the norm, but if we don't step out of that, we won't change. So, the emotioneering triangle, which I've created is very much about fear, courage through to confidence.

"Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision and Confidence is an outcome." -Melissa Curran

Confidence is actually something that happens from you making that change and receiving great feedback, or understanding from reflecting on that change, that it had a positive result for you, then you continue to do it. Or it comes from learning that it didn't go as bad as you thought it would.

In courses, coaching or mentorship, change happens between fear and courage, because a great coach or tutor knows it's about encouraging you to make that change, to change your path, to make a new behaviour or adjustment and giving you that courage to continue to do that and to make a new decision and change the way that you view things.

"If we change the way we look at things, the things we look at will change." - Wayne Dyer

So, yes. fear is a reaction, courage is a decision and confidence is an outcome. We must be prepared. When you think about improving emotional intelligence, prepare yourself for what it actually entails to get there. To be successful you have to be curious to learn, look at different circumstances, different relationships around you and how other people interact.

We can also learn from being open to feedback. If you're closed off, have a fixed mindset and you believe you can't change. Then, well -

"We can take a horse to water, but we cannot make it drink."

So it is about understanding that that feedback has to come in and sometimes as uncomfortable as it is, be prepared for it in order for us to grow and move forward.

Always take that feedback from someone that you trust, that you admire and you believe. Aim to get a couple of different opinions as well is great to improve your emotional intelligence. Not just one person.

Understand how you view yourself may not be the true reflection. We can think that we come across great. And then actually that's not how the other person interpreted what we said.

How much conflict do we have through conversations or situations? And we think, wow, how did that happen? We have to understand that, it could be that person's belief which caused the conflict, but it could also be the way that we've come across. So it's about looking at that and understanding that what we think is happening and what is actually happening may be completely different.

We have to be prepared to ask for help to understand that we don't know it all and that we do need to be able to ask the right people for help, or if we're not understanding something and be prepared to challenge our belief system or our beliefs.

Some of the cognitive distortions that we set up for ourselves are not correct. We can say things like everybody thinks this... Ask yourself, do they? Does everybody think that? Or is it just your perception that it's everybody. Another example people say is, 'This always happens to me.' Does it always happen to you? Or could it be that it's just that you hold onto that because those situations are the ones that affect you the most, those are the ones that have made you feel insecure or unhappy.

Be mindful of that, be prepared for change and that is how you can improve your emotional intelligence. Great to see you've already started your journey with this article.

Emotional intelligence, these people skills, are viewed by many as a 'nice to have', not a 'have to have'. I'm here to tell you today that they are absolutely fundamental and essential to having a successful career and a fulfilling life. I know from the research and people I work with just how much these skills impact our careers and how they impact the relationships that we have.

Facts and Statistics About Emotional Intelligence

Here are some stats and facts to back up that claim and why they are absolutely important to our personal development.

Emotional Intelligence Fact Number 1 -

26% of employers give feedback to non-supervisory roles based on emotional intelligence.

That's only 26% of them. So 74% of employees aren't given the feedback at all when it's such a fundamental skill to build relationships with your customers, with people within the workplace. I'm quite disappointed that we haven't got a higher figure on this, although I'm sure it will start to come in the years ahead.

Emotional intelligence fact, number 2 -

a whopping 74% of executives and senior leadership believe that emotional intelligence become a must have skill.

So if we go back to the first fact to back that up, senior execs are agreeing that it is important, but we're only having 26% of organizations actually acting on that right now. That is a big gap to fill.

Emotional intelligence fact number 3 -

64% of employees say that they would trust an artificial intelligent robot more than their actual manager.

This study was done by Oracle and Future Workplace. That's over half of people that say that they would trust the robot more. We have to do more in terms of improving emotional intelligence in leadership. If you think about it, the statistics of the pressures and the statistics of mental health has gone up, but we're not improving our emotional intelligence or people skills. Is there some type of correlation there? I believe there is although I'll leave it to you to make your own mind up on that as well.

Emotional intelligence fact number 4 -

the demand for emotional intelligence skills in the workplace will increase as artificial intelligence goes up and evolves. The demand for emotional intelligence is estimated to increase by six times the amount that it is now,

74% of businesses really still have the opportunity to train people within the workplace on that. You can also stay ahead by improving and taking your personal development into your own hands.

Emotional intelligence fact number 5 -

85 to 87% of success is accounted for by emotional intelligence. Although we only actually pay attention to these skills 10% of the time.

I'm reading this great book at the moment that's based around consciousness within sales, by a great author, coach and consultant called Taran Hughes called The Conscious Sale. There are many pearls of wisdom in this book about bringing consciousness to our work and focusing on what our intentions are. I highly recommend it.

It's quite surprising to think that only 10% of the time we are being conscious about what we say and do. We're not being conscious the rest of the time, so how we improve our interactions with other people and also how we speak can only be done with consciousness.

This also links to what we're thinking and saying to ourselves.

Be mindful of what you say to yourself, you're always listening.

Let's all pay a little bit more attention to what we do and say, if we pay a little bit more attention to it, I'm sure that we all can definitely start to see where we can improve.

If you are looking for a better career, a happier, more fulfilling life and great relationships with people then it is definitely worth investing in yourself.


The Modern Mind Group are emotioneering human performance not engineering it.

As people operations and performance consultants, we work with your business to identify and improve performance gaps so that you can be more profitable and professionally develop your people. Over 12 years of expertise in people operations and performance with results to back it all up. Why settle for the average when there is a world of possibility when you know how to achieve it? Untapped potential - Let's go get it!


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