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TrainingZONE Glossary: Emotional Intelligence


Emotional Intelligence

Definition: 'The ability to process emotional information, particularly as it involves the perception, assimilation, understanding, and management of emotion' (Mayer and Cobb, 2000).

Although present in humans since the beginning of the human race itself, Emotional Intelligence (EI) as a term only started to be used around the beginning of the 1990s, when US university professors John Mayer and Peter Salovey published in two academic journal articles about scientifically measuring the difference between people's ability in the area of emotions. The concept of Emotional Intelligence works on the basis that some individuals are better than others at decoding, understanding and responding to their own feelings and those of others, and that those individuals will achieve more 'success' in life as a result.

Mayer, Salovey and colleague David Caruso have defined four areas of EI: Emotional identification, perception and expression, emotional facilitation of thought, emotional understanding and emotional management, but individuals are often referred to as having 'high' or 'low' Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence is a term much used in popular culture at present, due in part to the 1995 book 'Emotional Intelligence' by Dr. Daniel Goleman and many other articles and self-help quizzes and books. Mayer, Salovey and Caruso maintain a more scientific approach which they argue is more specific, as it doesn't include other measures of personality.

Feature articles on Emotional Intelligence:

Three Emotional Intelligence qualities distinguish the most successful leaders

Emotional Intelligence team test shows why teams fight

Can Emotional Intelligence be learned?

Related resources:

Emotional Intelligence style profile online

From the LearningMatters library of tools and exercises: EQ: Understanding People, Feelings, EQ and Leadership, How good is your EQ?

Understanding Others at Work - a questionnaire designed to assess the best courses of behaviours to adopt to build good working relationships with colleagues.

Providers using Emotional Intelligence in their work:

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