What is Emotional Intelligence ?

 Emotional Intelligence ?

"The advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray, and the advantage of science is that it is not emotional". - Oscar Wilde, 1891, The Picture of Dorian Gray

    Emotional intelligence seems to be everywhere. Educators, executives, and life- style gurus have all bowed to the notion that what people need most in contemporary life is emotional awareness, heightened sensitivity, and street smarts. But what is “emotional intelligence”? And why has it assumed such prominence in the present culture? To answer such questions, it is important to start with a working definition of emotional intelligence. For now, we will take this term to refer to a generic competence in perceiving emotions (both in oneself and in others). This competence also helps us regulate emotions and cope effectively with emotive situations. Thus conceived, emotional intelligence appears important because many people fail to manage emotions successfully.

We may be blind to our own emotional reactions. Or we may fail to control our emotional outbursts. Worse still, we may act foolishly under pressure. From this standpoint the potential importance of emotional intelligence should become self-evident. Have you a problem in a personal relationship or in your marriage Difficulties coping with work stress and assignments? Is your school climate of concern? Low emotional intelligence may be at play. Training emotional intelligence in schools, workplaces, and psychiatric clinics then offers a viable, and valuable, solution to perceived individual, community, national, and global needs. It is the quick fix panacea for manifest problems in personal relations, at work, and during the educational process. 

What is Emotional Intelligence ?

Despite much recent enthusiasm in the media, trade texts, and even psychological handbooks, some caution and skepticism are requisite. Perhaps emotional intelligence is nothing more than a popular fad along the lines of crystal healing, sexual intelligence, feng shui, and other New Age excesses. Popular interest in emotional intelligence stems from a perspective that is cross-fertilized by academic studies. These studies seek to develop sophisticated theories of the psychological and biological concomitants, causes, and antecedents of emotionally intelligent behaviors. They also seek accurate measures of these character traits and behaviors. Further still, such studies are conducted to understand how emotional intelligence is related to valued social outcomes and functions.

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