An emotionally intelligent person is one capable of successfully managing emotions to achieve positive results in their relationships with others, refers to the psychological abilities and skills that involve the feeling, understanding, control, and modification of one's own and other people's emotions. In practical terms, this means being aware of the emotions behind our behavior, as well as the impact they have on other people, in addition to learning how to manage those emotions, both our own and others, especially when we are under pressure. The development of EI has come a long way, let's see where it takes us going forward.

Fundamental Contributions:

1. Howard Gardner

The theory of Multiple Intelligences is a model of understanding of the human mind proposed in 1983 by Howard Gardner (1943-), an American psychologist and professor at Harvard University. According to his approach to intelligence, it cannot be defined as a fixed and determined set of specific capacities that some people have and others do not. On the contrary, it understands intelligence as a network of autonomous but interrelated capacities, which occur in one measure or another in individuals.

The development of each of these capabilities depends on three main factors:

  • your biological or genetic heritage
  • your personal life
  • your cultural and historical heritage.

For this reason, there are no intelligent and non-intelligent people, but people with one type or another of more developed intelligence, since being always at potential capacity, it may or may not be active. Thus, in his Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Gardner starts from the fact that, as there are many types of problems and needs, there are also many types of intelligences, which are distinguished from each other according to their specific areas of application.

There are eight types of intelligence that Gardner originally identified, plus naturalistic intelligence, which the same author added in 1995. Later other types of intelligence were also identified: emotional, existential, creative and collaborative. Here are the first 8:

  • Linguistic-verbal intelligence
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence
  • Spatial or visual intelligence
  • Musical intelligence
  • Body-Kinesthetic Intelligence
  • Intrapersonal intelligence
  • Interpersonal intelligence
  • Naturalistic intelligence

2. Salovey and Mayer
The first definition of IE was given by Salovey and Mayer (1990). For these authors, emotional intelligence includes the ability to accurately perceive, value and express emotion; the ability to access and / or generate feelings when facilitating thoughts; the ability to understand emotion and emotional awareness; and the ability to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth. That is, emotional intelligence refers to a thinker with a heart that perceives, understands, and manages social relationships.
It consists, therefore, in the ability to manage feelings and emotions and use this knowledge to direct one's thoughts and actions. Following these authors, emotional intelligence is structured as a model of four interrelated branches:

  • Emotional perception
  • Emotional facilitation of thought
  • Emotional understanding
  • Emotional regulation

3. Daniel Goleman

For Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence is a way of interacting with the world that takes feelings into account and encompasses skills such as impulse control, self-awareness, motivation, enthusiasm, perseverance, empathy, and agility. These characteristics configure character traits such as self-discipline, compassion or altruism, which are essential for a good and creative social adaptation. Goleman has considered five emotional abilities, classified in turn into two major groups:
Personal aptitude: They are those that determine the domain of oneself. They comprise the following skills:

  • Self-knowledge
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation

Social aptitude: Are those that determine the management of relationships. They comprise the following skills:

  • Empathy
  • Social skills

Goleman defines emotional aptitude as a learned capacity, based on emotional intelligence, that results in outstanding work performance.
Let's dig deeper into Goleman: The five components of Goleman's Emotional Intelligence

Self-knowledge consists of knowing your own internal states, preferences, resources and intuitions. This self-knowledge comprises, in turn, three emotional skills:

  • Emotional awareness: Recognition of one's emotions and their effects
  • Precise self-assessment: Knowledge of one's inner resources, abilities and limits
  • Self-confidence: Certainty about one's worth and faculties. 

Self-regulation is about managing your own internal states, impulses and resources. This self-regulation comprises, in turn, five emotional skills:

  • Self-control: Keeping emotions and harmful impulses under control
  • Reliability: Maintain standards of honesty and integrity
  • Scrupulousness: Accepting responsibility for personal performance
  • Adaptability: Flexibility to react to changes
  • Innovation: Being open and willing for novel ideas and approaches and new information.

Motivation is the emotional tendencies that guide or facilitate the achievement of goals. This motivation includes, in turn, four emotional skills:

  • Eagerness to succeed: Guiding desire to improve or respond to a standard of excellence
  • Commitment: Align with the objectives of a group or organization
  • Initiative: Willingness to seize opportunities
  • Optimism: Tenacity to seek the goal, despite obstacles and setbacks. 

Empathy is the capture of feelings, needs, and interests. This empathy includes, in turn, five emotional skills:

  • Understand others: Perceive the feelings and perspectives of others, and take an active interest in their concerns
  • Helping others to develop: Perceive the development needs of others and build their capacity
  • Service orientation: Anticipate, recognize and satisfy customer needs
  • Harnessing Diversity: Cultivating Opportunities Through Diverse People
  • Political awareness: Interpret social and political currents. 

Social skills are the skills to induce in others the desired responses. These social skills comprise, in turn, eight emotional skills:

  • Influence: Implement effective persuasion tactics
  • Communication: Listen openly and convey convincing messages
  • Conflict management: Handle and resolve disagreements
  • Leadership: Inspire and guide individuals or groups
  • Change catalyst: Initiate or manage changes
  • Establish links: Nurturing instrumental relationships
  • Collaboration and cooperation: Working with others to achieve shared goals
  • Team skills: Create synergy to work towards collective goals.

Both parts of which emotional intelligence is formed include a series of competencies. Those belonging to interpersonal intelligence have been the subject of managerial training for years, while the competences of intrapersonal intelligence, such as self-awareness, self-regulation and self-motivation, are novel treatment in the business field.

From Science
Scientific studies on emotional intelligence focus both on the personal lives of individuals, and their emotional learning during childhood and adolescence, and on biological and anatomical factors, such as the role played by the amygdala and the hippocampus in the evolution of emotions or the importance of hormones. In the scientific literature there are two great models of emotional intelligence:

  • Mixed model: Combines emotional skills with elements of personality.
  • Skill model: It focuses exclusively on the emotional processing of information obtained from the environment or introspection.

How to develop EI
Beyond diverse points of view, EI plays a vital role in both personal and professional success. Intrapersonal intelligence skills such as self-awareness and self-motivation cannot be learned in traditional training sessions. However, these can serve to awaken consciences, turn on the light, see that there are other ways to start in self-knowledge. These are skills that are developed by doing intense personal work normally done with the outside help of a mentor coach or mental coach.
The first step is to discover what our values ​​are, the next to analyze the beliefs that we have formed around those values. Values ​​are thoughts we have about things, and based on those thoughts we define beliefs, which can be limiting or empowering, both to judge others, and to validate or justify the way we behave.
To deepen the person's self-knowledge, it is necessary to resort to tools that facilitate this process and accelerate its execution. Traditional tests only show a part of the individual, defining a personality style, based on behaviors; but they do not delve too deeply into its origin, that is, in the values ​​and beliefs that constitute the starting point in relation to the individual way of perceiving reality and the vital parameter that will define the behavior of the person. Values ​​have their origin in the education received in childhood, they can be genetic or they can also be the expression of the essence of our being.
Whatever the origin, the important thing is to become aware of what they are and to analyze the beliefs that we have developed based on them, in order to be able to submit them to a review, with the will to assume or rethink them.

What to Expect by Being Emotionally Smart?
Each person is a world, presents a personality and values ​​different from those of others. However, and although each person is different, there are some behavioral and personality characteristics that differentiate people who are emotionally intelligent:

  • They acknowledge their feelings and those of others.
  • They express their feelings and emotions honestly with themselves and with others.
  • They are strong and are not easily offended.
  • They acknowledge their mistakes.
  • They do not seek perfection.
  • They take care of themselves and they know how important health is.
  • They focus on the positive.
  • Avoid toxic people.
  • They defend their assertiveness.
  • They appreciate and value what they have.
  • They know their weaknesses and strengths.
  • They are not afraid of change.
  • They are proactive, not reactive people.
  • They own their time and decide how they use their energy.
  • They know how to generate moments of happiness for themselves. 

In conclusion, all these habits, behaviors, and characteristics or personality traits are obtained through a long process but it is always possible to work to be emotionally intelligent people and there are various ways to achieve it.

About The Author: Nahila Hernández San Juan:

With more than 20 years of hybrid professional experience, Nahila has held management and executive positions as Commercial, Logistics and Marketing; in multinational companies, local and own ventures. The last 10 years she dedicated part of her time to coaching, conferences, workshops, mentoring, consulting and training. But more importantly, is their extraordinary personal and sports life experience, which have fostered the development of fundamental soft skills in the real world.

Master in Coaching, Emotional Balance and Mindfulness, Master in Business and multiple specialties: NLP, Sports Coach, Certified Yoga Teacher, Sports Nutrition, among others ... Considered one of the best extreme ultramarathoners, Nahila shares her vision on various topics with a unique and differentiated methodology