What is Emotional Intelligence?
The Model of Emotional Intelligence
Understanding How to be Assertive
Handling Difficult People
Developing Positive Self-Talk
Guidelines for Best Practice
1. What is Emotional Intelligence?
"Knowing others and knowing oneself, in one hundred battles no danger. Not knowing the other and knowing oneself, one victory for one loss. Not knowing the other and not knowing oneself, in every battle certain defeat."
Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The Development of Emotional Intelligence
For decades people were only aware of the notion of intelligence quotient or IQ and it was often used to select people for jobs and other activities. An IQ of 100 was meant to represent the average and people possessing lower or higher scores were assumed to have lower or higher intelligence. Yet, we all probably know so-called intelligent people who are unable to interact with other people, cannot cook, are unable to change the tyre on a car, and cannot do many other ordinary things which the majority of us take for granted. Likewise, there are many people who are not assumed to be intelligent but can communicate wonderfully with other people, can quickly mend a car, or possess fantastic skills on the football field or golf course.
This anomaly was recognized by a number of people and caused Howard Gardner, an American academic, to carry out some research. He concluded that people possessed multiple intelligences and he initially identified seven of these:
Mathematical-logical - the ability to organize thoughts sequentially and logically.
Verbal-linguistic - the ability to understand and express ideas through language.
Bodily-kinesthetic - the gaining of knowledge through feedback from physical activity.
Musical - sensitivity to tone, pitch and rhythm, and the ability to reproduce them.
Visual-Spatial - the ability to learn directly through images and to think intuitively without the use of language.
Inter-personal - the ability to notice and make discriminations regarding the moods, temperaments, motivations and intentions of others.
Intra-personal - having access to one’s own feelings.
Gardner’s research was one of the reasons for emotions being given greater recognition and priority than had previously occurred. A few years later two authors Peter Salovey and John Mayer (1990) described the term ‘emotional intelligence’. They defined emotional intelligence as,
“A form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide ones thinking and action.”
How the brain works
Much of the work on emotional intelligence has been supported by recent advances in understanding the way in which our brains work. The diagrams below explain how the brain functions differently in normal circumstances and when under pressure.
The diagram above shows that under normal circumstances the brain processes information it receives from our senses through the part of the brain known as the thalamus which interprets this information so as to direct it to the most relevant centres in the brain so that we can act appropriately on the information received. In many situations the thalamus directs the information to the cortex where it can be consciously interpreted.
In other situations and particularly in emergency situations, the brain behaves slightly differently as shown in the diagram below:
This diagram shows us what happens in an emergency situation, such as stepping off the pavement into the path of an incoming bus. The brain bypasses the conscious cortex and sends the information directly to the amygdala, which is the emotional centre of the brain and which calls for an...
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