Emotional Intelligence Definition 
| What Is Really Involved in EI?

What's the definition of emotional intelligence and how do the principles of emotional intelligence actually affect a person's actions/reactions? Here's my emotional intelligence definition...

Emotional Intelligence Definition


A good emotional intelligence definition can help us assess where we are and where perhaps we can improve. So let's wrap our heads round the concept of emotional intelligence. 


Emotional intelligence is a lot to do with your perception of your emotions and how you use such knowledge to attain the most desirable results. Any emotional intelligence definition must acknowledge the link between a person's management of their emotions and reactions that follow.


Emotionally intelligent people are also extremely conscious of the emotions of others. Therefore, emotional intelligence (EI) has been defined as the ability to identify and manage your emotions and the emotions of others. 


It's important to note that emotional intelligence does not mean being "emotionless" or cold. The definition of emotional intelligence includes the concept that because you are aware of your emotions, you are able both suppress and give increased attention to certain emotions.


For instance,  once you have identified certain emotional tendencies that hinder you from achieving your goals, you can train yourself to manage or perhaps restrict those emotions. 

However, it is important to realise that emotional intelligence often means displaying the right emotions when appropriate. An emotional intelligent person  learns to display flexibility in regards to their emotions. For example, empathy would change the way they manage their emotions if they need to relieve someone who is distressed or show appropriate respect during sombre occasions. 


Emotional intelligence does not make you aloof and impersonal. In fact, empathy and curiosity about others is intrinsic to true emotional intelligence.

As a result, an emotionally intelligent person essentially becomes a "people watcher" in the sense that they notice the small details in interpersonal relations such as what a person information a person chooses to exclude, their tone of voice, inflection and other minute features of body language. 


  • A person becomes more emotionally intelligent as they become more aware of the consequences of not managing one's emotions properly.
  • Emotional intelligence develops as one begins to notice the correlation between successful results and the effective management of emotions. 

Emotionally intelligent people are also difficult to offend. Emotional intelligence means that a person doesn't take things at face value. For instance, instead of immediately absorbing an insult, the first thing that an emotionally intelligent person will consider is the emotional state of the other person. 


This means that emotionally intelligence people are often able to stay calm during tense situations, because they are insightful and are able to perceive what factors may have contributed to unkind behaviour.


Emotional intelligence is defined by having a strong sense of self-confidence. Such self-confidence is not easily threatened by a mean remark. Emotionally intelligent people are even more willing to make fun of themselves, because they have the ideal balance between showing self-respect but not taking yourself too seriously.  


This article on Medium adds a further dimension to our emotional intelligence definition as it explores qualities of an emotionally intelligent person.


Emotional intelligent people, such like anyone else, experience unpleasant emotions that could bring huge distress. Emotionally intelligent people know (and have usually learned from experience) that giving in to such emotions only aggravates the situation. Thus, emotionally intelligent people train themselves to rise above their emotions.



This is done through 4 main steps:


  1. Emotionally intelligence causes a person to acknowledge the unpleasant emotion they are experiencing, e.g. fear, envy or  the bitterness that accompanies holding a grudge.
  2. That person mentally fast-forwards to picture the disastrous consequences of succumbing to such an emotion.
  3. Based on the above foresight, the person creates a more positive  picture of how they would like the situation to end, and thinks about how their emotions can be managed to arrive at that result.
  4. The person realises that they do in fact have power over the situation. They also realise that choosing to rise above negative emotions will be challenging, but is frankly the only viable option. 

As you would expect, emotional intelligence causes a significant change in the way a person views confrontation or disappointment. General intelligence is great, but emotional intelligence is truly invaluable.


Once a person has developed this high level of emotional awareness, they  are able to rule their emotions instead of letting their emotions rule them.

That is emotional intelligence.


If you liked this article, be sure to check out this post where I talk about my favourite emotional intelligence book and interesting studies that have been conducted relating to emotional intelligence. Also, if you're interested in discovering more on this topic, particularly on why EI (or EQ) beats IQ, this might be a good read for you.

Thanks for reading! How would you define emotional intelligence?

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