What is emotional intelligence

What is meant by emotional intelligence?

By Published On: 1. October 2023


Hello friends! Today we are going to talk about something very interesting: Emotional Intelligence. But what is it actually? Basically, it's the ability to recognize and understand our own feelings, and also the feelings of the people around us. Sounds simple, right? But if we're honest, it's not always that simple in practice. We all know those days when we just can't get a grip on our feelings. Or situations in which we can't understand at all what's going on in our friends or colleagues. Emotional intelligence is much more than just a fancy term, it is a crucial factor that determines our relationships and ultimately our quality of life. And the best part? It's something we can learn and improve with practice! So let's dive deeper into the topic.

Definition of emotional intelligence

To fully grasp the meaning of emotional intelligence, you must look further than mere definitions. It is a type of intelligence that involves awareness and understanding of emotions. It is a skill that enables you to recognize and understand both your own feelings and the feelings of others in order to choose effective and appropriate behaviors in various situations.

Properties of emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is not a unified concept, but consists of several components. First, there is "Emotional Perception," which refers to the ability to identify and perceive one's own and others' emotions. This can be done through nonverbal signals, such as facial expressions or body language, or through direct communication of feelings.

Second, there is "Emotional Clarity," which refers to understanding emotions and their meaning. This skill allows you to interpret and understand complex emotions that may be difficult to decipher because of their nature or because of your personal experiences.

The third component is "Emotional Regulation". This skill allows you to regulate your emotions in a way that is beneficial to both your health and your relationships. It allows you to make appropriate decisions and express emotions in constructive ways.

Why is emotional intelligence important?

Emotional intelligence is an important factor in personal and professional success. A high level of emotional intelligence can help maintain healthier relationships, manage conflictual situations more effectively, and generally cope better with stress.

In a professional context, emotional intelligence can help you be an effective leader by helping to create motivating work environments, develop effective team-building strategies, and foster clear communication skills.

In addition, emotional intelligence has an impact on your mental and physical health. It allows you to regulate negative emotions, reduce stress, and deal with life's challenges in a positive way. These skills can help reduce mental health problems such as depression and anxiety disorders.

Emotional intelligence is therefore much more than just a technical term or a theoretical concept. It is a fundamentally important life skill that can decisively influence the quality of your life and the quality of your relationships with other people.

Why is emotional intelligence important?

You have emotions and you have to deal with them whether you like it or not. Therefore, emotional intelligence, or the ability to understand and manage emotions, is of enormous importance. As an emotionally intelligent person, you understand not only your own feelings and reactions, but also the feelings of others. This understanding brings numerous benefits.

Emotional intelligence promotes social competence

Emotional intelligence is essential for successful human interactions. It enables you to recognize and respond to the emotions of others. This is especially useful in situations where the ability to understand and consider the needs and perspectives of others is very important.

Whether in the family, at work, or building friendships, the ability to respond to and understand the moods, needs, and feelings of others can make living together much easier. Without emotional intelligence, you may have difficulty understanding and empathizing with others. This can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts or communication difficulties.

Emotional intelligence promotes personal growth

Apart from making it easier to deal with others, emotional intelligence also plays a crucial role in your personal growth. Through it, you are able to recognize, understand and regulate your own emotions.

In difficult or challenging situations, emotional intelligence helps you keep a clear head and not be overwhelmed by emotions. Your ability to control and manage certain emotions can help you overcome fears and change potentially harmful behavior. By mastering your own emotions, you can actively improve your quality of life and increase your self-worth.

In addition, emotional intelligence can help you adapt to change and develop resilience. Those who know their emotions well and can deal with them are usually better prepared to deal with stress, setbacks and change.

In conclusion, emotional intelligence is essential for a successful and fulfilling life. Not only does it help you improve your social interactions, but it also helps you develop a better understanding of yourself and drive your personal growth.

5 main components of emotional intelligence

In this section, we'll take a look at the five main components of emotional intelligence. These components are the basic building blocks upon which your ability to manage emotions is based. They are the fundamental tools that enable you to understand and manage your emotions and those of others. Therefore, to fully understand emotional intelligence, it is essential to get an overview of these components.

Self-awareness and self-regulation

The first and perhaps most important element of emotional intelligence is the Self-confidence. It's about understanding exactly what you're feeling and why. A high level of self-awareness allows you to recognize and name your emotions as they occur. This can help you make decisions and allow you to better prepare for certain situations.

Closely related to self-awareness is self-regulation. It refers to managing your emotions, especially the difficult ones. A high level of self-regulation means that you are able to manage strong emotions - be it anger, sadness, fear or excitement - and express them in a healthy and productive way.

Empathy and social skills

Empathy is another core characteristic of emotional intelligence. It enables you to recognize and understand the feelings of other people. This opens up the possibility of emotionally empathizing with others and imagining their perspectives. A high level of empathy enables you to respond more compassionately and considerately to their concerns and needs.

Social skills are the fourth element of emotional intelligence. They refer to the ability to maintain and strengthen relationships, communicate effectively, and interact constructively with groups. With well-developed social skills, you can more easily build trust, clarify misunderstandings, and resolve conflicts.


The final component of emotional intelligence is motivation. This involves the ability to use both negative and positive emotions to drive your goals and dreams. Individuals with high emotional intelligence understand how to use their emotions to self-motivate and enhance their performance. They are also able to overcome resistance and focus on long-term goals rather than seeking only short-term rewards.

With a clear understanding of these five key components, you can begin to strengthen and develop your emotional intelligence. By learning to apply them in your daily life, you will achieve better management of your emotions, improve your relationships, and feel more fulfilled and satisfied overall.

Application of emotional intelligence in everyday life

Emotional intelligence is more than just a theoretical concept or a list of skills. It's a life-changing skill that you can use every day. Whether at work, at school, in your family, or in your personal relationships, emotional intelligence can help you better handle emotional challenges, communicate more effectively, and maintain healthier relationships. But how do you apply emotional intelligence specifically in your everyday life? The key is to practice and pay attention to your emotions and the emotions of the people around you.

Using emotional intelligence to solve everyday problems

Emotional intelligence can help you solve problems that often arise in your daily life, especially those that are emotionally charged. If someone in your life has hurt your feelings, the first step is to become aware of your feelings and identify them. You should take time to reflect and understand why you feel that way. Once you have enough understanding of your feelings, you can use methods of emotional regulation to calm yourself down. Whether it's deep breaths, a walk, or a good conversation with a trusted friend, it's important to find a healthy way to deal with your feelings.

The second step is to use empathy. Try to look at the other person's perspective and understand why they might have acted the way they did. This takes a lot of courage and openness, but it leads to a deeper connection and helps resolve conflicts. In the end, you may find that the problem is not as big as it initially seemed.

Application of emotional intelligence in communication and relationships

Emotional intelligence is essential when dealing with other people. It enables us to communicate effectively and build relationships based on mutual understanding and respect. An important component of emotional intelligence is active listening. This means not only listening to another person's words, but also recognizing and responding to their emotions. Active listening can help avoid misunderstandings and create an environment where everyone feels heard and valued.

At the same time, you should also be able to communicate your own emotions effectively. By learning to express your emotions in a healthy and positive way, you can help avoid harmful conflicts and improve relationships. Emotionally intelligent people can also use their emotions as tools to help and support others.

So in everyday life, emotional intelligence is not just understanding emotions, but also being able to manage and use them effectively. With time and practice, you can improve your emotional intelligence and make it an integral tool for your personal and professional growth.

The role of emotional intelligence in relationships

Emotional intelligence is a powerful tool when it comes to relationships. Whether in the family circle, among friends or in love - sometimes the handling of feelings and emotions seems to be decisive for the success or failure of the relationship. A lack of emotional intelligence can quickly lead to communication problems and misunderstandings.

Understanding and interpreting emotions

One of the key skills of emotional intelligence is understanding emotions. This is twofold: you should be able to recognize, name, and understand your own emotions, as well as show empathy for the emotions of others. If you manage to see through your own emotions, you'll be able to control them better, which will lead to fewer emotional outbursts. At the same time, empathy makes it easier to understand your counterpart's actions and feelings. You are thus able to resolve conflicts better, because you can take the perspective of the other person.

Emotional intelligence thus makes a significant contribution to improved communication. Understanding and empathic communication leads to a better understanding of the situation and the people involved. This reduces the risk of misunderstandings and thus makes it easier to deal with conflicts.

Benefits of emotional intelligence in relationships

What is the use of emotional intelligence? Is the effect really visible and measurable? The answer is: Yes, definitely. Relationships benefit immensely from emotional intelligence. Not only in private, but also in professional contexts, emotional intelligence enables more successful relationships. It ensures the development of a pleasant atmosphere in which everyone can express their feelings.

Whether in a partnership, among friends or colleagues, people with high emotional intelligence can create a deep bonding level. They are more attentive and considerate, which helps them build better relationships. They are also able to respect boundaries and understand what others want or need.

If you remain open to your own development in this context, the possibilities are limitless. After all, emotional intelligence is not a rigid construct, but can be trained and improved. So it's worth consciously dedicating yourself to this skill and working to experience positive changes in your own relationships.

All in all, emotional intelligence plays an essential role in relationships. It enables a deeper understanding of one's own emotional world and that of others, promotes open and empathic communication, makes it easier to deal with conflicts, and ultimately leads to more satisfying and stronger relationships.

How can you improve your emotional intelligence?

Developing emotional intelligence is not a one-day process. It requires continuous practice and conscious effort. The good news is that emotional intelligence, regardless of age or background, can be improved. But how? In the following sections, we discuss two key methods that can help you improve your emotional intelligence.

Promotion of emotional awareness

The basis of emotional intelligence is the emotional Awareness - the ability to notice and understand your own emotions as they occur. But how can you foster it? Start with a simple practice: self-reflection. Take some time out and explore your feelings. Think about your reactions in certain situations, write them down, and try to find patterns. Through this understanding, you can better manage your emotions and respond to uncomfortable situations.

Another method is mindfulness - the practice of consciously feeling and thinking. Mindfulness practices such as meditation and conscious breathing techniques can help clear your mind and improve awareness of your current emotional state. These practices aim to teach you not to meet your feelings and thoughts with judgment or action, but simply to notice them. In this way, you learn to accept and deal with your emotions.

Improvement of interpersonal skills

Emotional intelligence also includes understanding and handling the emotions of other people. For this, the so-called "interpersonal skills" or also "social skills" are fundamental. These include communication skills, empathy, active listening and conflict resolution skills.

First, it's important to communicate effectively. This means expressing clearly and straightforwardly what you feel and what you want. This can be achieved by learning and using certain communication techniques, such as "I-messages." But communication is not just talking, it is also listening. Through active listening, you learn to give others your full attention and understand their emotions and needs.

The second component is empathy - the ability to empathize with other people and understand their feelings. Empathy is a key value of emotional intelligence. It helps you maintain better relationships and promote prosocial behavior. In addition, practicing empathy can help you better understand and process your own feelings.

Finally, the ability to resolve conflicts, from disputes in the office to disagreements in your personal relationships, is another important social skill. Practicing conflict resolution strategies such as seeking win-win solutions and accepting other perspectives can improve your ability to deal with emotional challenges.

These are just some of the ways you can increase your emotional intelligence. The most important thing is to always be open and willing to learn and always commit to becoming a more emotionally intelligent person. It may be a challenge, but the reward is definitely worth it.

Is there a test for emotional intelligence?

We've already talked extensively about the many benefits of emotional intelligence and emphasized its importance in everyday life. You may now be wondering if there is a way to test your emotional intelligence and find out where you stand. The good news is, yes, there are emotional intelligence tests. These tests can help you determine your current level of emotional intelligence and identify areas where you can improve.

What are emotional intelligence tests?

Emotional intelligence tests function as psychological assessment tools to measure a person's emotional competence. They can take a variety of formats, but they are usually self- or peer-assessment tests. In a self-assessment test, you are asked to rank statements on a rating scale that best describes how you normally respond to certain situations-for example, "I can easily identify and name my emotions." In a peer assessment test, others are asked to rate you, often based on different behaviors and scenarios.

Many tests exist, but the Emotional Intelligence Appraisal by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves and the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) by Peter Salovey and John Mayer, co-founders of the concept of emotional intelligence, are among the best known.

Are these tests useful?

Partly, partly. Complicated, isn't it? A test can definitely be a useful tool to get an overview of your skills in dealing with emotions. It tells you whether you are able to recognize, understand and regulate emotions in yourself and others.

However, as with any psychological test, you should be careful with these tests. A test can only measure a small slice of what constitutes emotional intelligence. They don't fully capture the more complex picture of how you actually manage emotions in everyday life. In addition, the result may be influenced by perceptual bias - you may see yourself differently than you actually are.

Tests can thus provide a good starting point for finding out where you stand on the emotional intelligence scale and which areas could be improved. However, they should not be seen as the only possible tool for assessing your emotional intelligence.

The most important thing, in my opinion, is that you are willing to work on your emotional intelligence. It is not a static skill, but can be developed and improved over time. Whatever test result you get, it should not affect your will to grow and develop. Stay open, willing to learn, and curious - these are some of the most valuable qualities you can have.

Link between emotional intelligence and leadership

Did you know that there is a strong connection between emotional intelligence and effective leadership? That's right, we're not kidding. Emotional intelligence is an incredibly important tool for leaders, and it definitely has a positive impact on team performance and ultimately the success of an organization. But let's dive a little deeper and explain this seemingly obscure connection in more detail.

Roll out the carpet for emotional intelligence in leadership

Have you ever been yelled at by a boss who lost control? Or maybe a supervisor made a bad decision because they let their emotions get the best of them? These are clear signs that these leaders don't have enough emotional intelligence. It's not rocket science to understand that a boss sparkling with anger or a leader cracking under emotional stress can have destructive effects on a team's work environment and performance. This is where emotional intelligence comes in.

Leaders with high emotional intelligence can read their own emotions and recognize what their team members are feeling in an instant. It helps them deal with stress, make tough decisions and resolve conflicts effectively. But that's not all. They are also masters at channeling their emotions to achieve positive results, such as using their passion to boost team motivation or using their compassion to create a respectful and caring work environment.

How emotional intelligence improves leadership behavior

You may wonder how exactly emotional intelligence can influence a leader's behavior. It's like the secret joker in a manager's pocket, enabling them to build stronger relationships with their team members and, in turn, drive greater engagement and productivity.

Leaders with high emotional intelligence have a better handle on their emotions and can effectively defuse potential conflicts. They are willing to take responsibility when things go wrong instead of blaming others. They know when to back off and give others room to breathe. And when the going gets tough, they know when to support and when to challenge.

They can show compassion at any moment and are open to feedback. By behaving in this way, they create a positive working environment, which in turn improves the team's well-being, cooperation and efficiency.

In summary, emotional intelligence is an essential tool for any leader. It helps to create a positive and productive work environment, and enables one to strengthen relationships and communicate effectively. It is not only relevant for leaders, but also for anyone who wants to better interact with and understand people. So, put your feelers out there and let emotional intelligence be your superpower!

Psychological aspects of your emotional intelligence

Your emotional intelligence has a high potential in the psychological field. You recognize and acknowledge it as the ability to understand and manage not only your own emotions, but also the emotions of others. You see it as a solid foundation for mental health and well-being. Upon closer examination, there are several psychological aspects that are closely related to your emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence and your mental health

Your emotional intelligence plays a crucial role in your mental health. Studies have shown that people with higher emotional intelligence are less prone to mental disorders. Why is that? Well, it's probably because they are better able to recognize and manage negative emotions. They are better able to deal with stress because they can recognize stressful situations early on and then manage their emotions so that they don't get overwhelmed.

Your emotional intelligence can also play an important role in combating depression and anxiety. People with strong emotional intelligence can better understand and manage their emotions, which helps them alleviate the typical symptoms of these conditions.

Emotional intelligence and your self-esteem

Another psychological aspect that is closely related to your emotional intelligence is your self-esteem. You tend to have stronger self-esteem because you can manage your emotions better. You know how to use positive self-talk to strengthen your self-image and ward off self-doubt. You are also better able to handle criticism and use it as an opportunity for improvement rather than a personal attack.

In addition, your emotional intelligence can help you strengthen your self-image. When you understand how your emotions work and how they affect you, you can have a clearer picture of yourself. You can better understand your strengths and weaknesses and work on improving yourself.

Your emotional intelligence has a profound impact on your psychological well-being and on your understanding of yourself. There is growing recognition of how important this skill is to your mental health and overall well-being. Whether it's managing stress or building strong self-esteem, your emotional intelligence can help you lead a healthier and more fulfilling life.

The importance of emotional intelligence in school

Emotional intelligence is not only relevant for your private life or the professional world, it also plays an essential role in the school context. It is crucial that you recognize and promote the potential of emotional intelligence in our educational system. It has a direct impact on your engagement, your learning success and the school climate.

Emotional intelligence and school success

Many people mistakenly assume that success in school is only related to intelligence in the classical sense - i.e. IQ. But it has been shown that emotional intelligence - the ability to recognize, understand and manage emotions - plays an equally important role. Emotions have a major influence on your thought processes, your motivation and your ability to deal with challenges and stress.

As a student, if you have the capacity for emotional intelligence, you will be able to better perceive and name your feelings, which means that you will be better able to deal with stress, among other things. This will improve both your concentration and your cognitive performance. In addition, you will be better able to deal with setbacks and failures if you show emotional intelligence. This improves your overall resilience, promotes a positive attitude toward learning, and helps you achieve long-term academic goals.

The role of emotional intelligence in social relationships in schools.

But it's not just its impact on academic success that underscores the importance of emotional intelligence in school. Another important component is its role in social relationships. School is a place where you learn to interact with others, make friends, and manage conflict.

Emotional intelligence plays a central role in this. Through it, you learn to recognize and understand the feelings of others, which ultimately leads to more empathy and better social skills. Additionally, this understanding helps to resolve conflicts more peacefully and constructively by enabling you to take the perspective of others and show understanding.

This not only leads to better relationships among students, but also helps improve the overall school climate. An atmosphere in which emotional intelligence is promoted has a positive effect on the satisfaction and well-being of Dir, but also of the teachers.

So it's clear that emotional intelligence plays a role in school that cannot be underestimated. This is not just about preparing you for a future career, but also about equipping you with the skills you need to ensure your emotional well-being and successfully manage interpersonal relationships.

Emotional intelligence versus IQ - Which is more important?

We all know the term "IQ" or intelligence quotient. It is often used as an indicator of how "smart" someone is. But in recent years, another term has gained importance: Emotional Intelligence (EI). This begs the question, which of the two is more important - IQ or emotional intelligence? Before we answer that question, let's first look at these two concepts a little more closely.

What is IQ and how is it measured?

Intelligence quotient, or IQ for short, is a measure used to assess a person's intellectual ability compared to a population. IQ measures our cognitive abilities - our knowledge, reasoning, memory, and ability to solve problems. It is measured by specific tests developed at different ages to provide a ranking in comparison to the general population. An average IQ is defined as 100. During the 20th century, many people assumed that IQ was the decisive criterion for success in life, when in fact it only represents one type of intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence and how is it measured?

Emotional intelligence, often referred to as EI, refers to our ability to understand and manage our own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of others. Unlike IQ, which is fairly stable over a person's lifetime, emotional intelligence can be learned and improved. It includes skills such as empathy, self-awareness, self-management, social skills, and motivation. Many psychologists believe that emotional intelligence can be just as important, if not more important, to success in life, especially when it comes to personal relationships and career advancement. There are also tests that measure emotional intelligence, although these are usually based on self-reports or assessments by others and are not as standardized as IQ tests.

So now the intriguing question: Is emotional intelligence more important than IQ? It's pretty clear that both EI and IQ are important, but their importance can vary depending on the context. The fact is that both types of intelligence have their strengths and can be more important in certain areas of life. A high IQ can be very useful in certain professions that have high cognitive demands. Emotional intelligence, on the other hand, can help us have effective and fulfilling relationships, both in our personal and professional lives. In any case, it is important to appreciate all aspects of human intelligence and recognize that everyone is intelligent in their own unique way.

Case studies in the field of emotional intelligence

In recent years, interest in emotional intelligence has grown strongly. Various studies in this area highlight its importance. These studies provide revealing insights into the benefits of high emotional intelligence and the structures that support these skills. In this section, you will learn about some prominent research and its findings.

Emotional intelligence in children

One fascinating area of research is the impact of emotional intelligence on child development. A study by the Psychology Institute in New York found that children with high emotional intelligence do better in school and have fewer behavioral problems. They can identify and control their emotions more easily, which contributes to positive social interactions. They also have a better self-image and more self-confidence. This is not a matter of suppressing "negative" emotions such as anger or sadness, but of recognizing them and responding to them appropriately. Emotional intelligence thus plays an enormously important role in the child's personality development.

Emotional intelligence in companies

Companies have also recognized the importance of emotional intelligence. A Harvard Business Review case study found that teams with emotionally intelligent leaders are more productive and motivated. Leaders who act empathetically and consciously create a better work environment where employees feel free to express their ideas and concerns. It also shows that companies that invest in improving the emotional intelligence of their employees achieve better business results.

Another study found that salespeople with high emotional intelligence were more successful at closing deals. They were able to recognize and respond to the needs and emotions of their customers, which made them more effective in sales.

These case studies clearly show that emotional intelligence is enormously important not only for individual personal development, but also in an organizational context. By understanding and mastering our own emotions and recognizing and respecting the emotions of others, we can build healthier relationships, communicate more effectively, and ultimately lead more successful and fulfilling lives.

Therefore, it is fruitful for each of us to invest time and effort in learning and practicing emotional intelligence. It may be challenging, but as you can see from the case studies, it is definitely worth it. So, get started and keep developing your emotional intelligence. It will only do you good in the long run.

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About the Author: Sven Emmrich

Sven Emmrich avatar
Sven is a business graduate, DEKRA-certified coach and passionate entrepreneur. As CEO of Karrierehelden, he has been writing for many years on all career topics such as job applications and job changes, money and salary negotiations, leadership skills and management issues, psychology and personality development, communication and conflict management, self-confidence and entrepreneurship, and the line between work and private life with work-life balance... or much more work-life integration. Sven has coached over 1,000 academics, professionals and executives with his team and is happy to help you too.
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