Emotional Intelligence

Since Daniel Goleman's first book in 1995, Emotional Intelligence has become a hot buzzword in corporate circles. Initially all work on intelligence, were focused on cognitive aspects, such as memory and problem-solving. There were also psychologists who recognized that the non-cognitive aspects were also important. For example, according to David Wechsler, intelligence "the aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment". In 1940 he referred to "non-intellective" as well as "intellective" elements, by which he meant affective, personal, and social factors. By 1943 Wechsler wrote about non-intellective abilities being essential for predicting one's ability to succeed in life. In 1983 Howard Gardner spoke of "multiple intelligence" and proposed that "intrapersonal" and "interpersonal" intelligences, were as important as the type of intelligence typically measured by IQ and related tests.

The term Emotional Intelligence was coined by Salovey and Mayer in 1990. They described 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 one's thinking and action". In the early 1990's Daniel Goleman became aware of their work, and this eventually led to his book, Emotional Intelligence . Goleman presented his concepts by making a distinction between emotional intelligence and emotional competence. Emotional competence referred to the personal and social skills that lead to superior performance in the world of work. The emotional competencies are linked to and based on emotional intelligence. A certain level of emotional intelligence was necessary to learn the emotional competencies. For example, the ability to recognize what another person is feeling will help one to develop a specific competency like "Influence". Similarly, people who can better control their emotions can develop a competency such as "initiative" or "achievement drive", more easily.

There is no denying the fact that cognitive abilities are important for success in science. Even admission to a graduate engineering or science program at the IITs would call for a high level of such ability. But, once you join, what matters about your performance may not depend on IQ differences alone, and will have more to do with social and emotional factors. We should not forget that both cognitive and non-cognitive are related. Research suggests that emotional and social skills actually help improve cognitive functioning.

The Value of Emotional Intelligence at Work

Martin Seligman has developed a construct that he calls "learned optimism". It refers to the causal attributions people make when confronted with failure or setbacks. Optimists tend to make specific, temporary, external causal attributions while pessimists make global, permanent, internal attributions.

Emotional intelligence has as much to do with knowing when and how to express emotion, as it does with controlling it. Empathy is a particularly important aspect of emotional intelligence, and researchers have known for years that it contributes to occupational success. Rosenthal's work at Harvard revealed over two decades ago that people who were best at identifying others' emotions were more successful in their work as well as in their social lives. A person's ability to perceive, identify, and manage emotion provides the basis for the kinds of social and emotional competencies that are important for success in almost any job. As the pace of change increases and there are more demands on a person's cognitive, emotional, and physical resources. Psychologists dealing with Emotional Intelligence are best situated to help clients to use emotional intelligence to improve both productivity and psychological well-being in the workplace of tomorrow.

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