Emotions help us thrive, survive, and avoid danger. In the same way, they are a fundamental element of who we are, our behaviour, and our decisions. Charles Darwin was unarguably the first researcher to highlight this. In his book “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals” published in 1872, he argued that emotions play a major role in adaptation and thus in human survival. So, what exactly is “emotional intelligence” and how do we test it?
“We define emotional intelligence as the subset 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 actions.”Peter Salovey & John D. Mayer. Emotional Intelligence, 1990.
The above quote by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, who first developed the model of emotional intelligence, perfectly sums it up.
Emotional intelligence, also known as Emotional Quotient (EQ) is the ability to understand, use and manage your own emotions in a positive way. If you rank high in EQ scores, you are more likely to relieve stress in a healthy way, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and diminish conflict. Moreover, research has also indicated that people with higher EQ scores have better mental health, job performance, and leadership skills in comparison to people who have lower scores. These are all wonderful things!
How do you know where you stand on the emotional intelligence scale? You have to take a test, of course. Just like IQ (Intelligence quotient) scores, EQ scores can be measured as well, however, it is slightly more complicated. You have probably seen many online quizzes and questionnaires that claim to test your emotional intelligence. Some of these tests aren’t always accurate. Why? There are many reasons to explain where the complexity comes from, including a lack of theoretical understanding, cultural influences, and a lack of clarity of conceptualization. To keep things simple, emotional intelligence is highly subjective.
Components of Emotional Intelligence
To understand EQ better let’s look at its components. Researchers have broken down the concept of EQ into 5 individual components of skills and conscious abilities which can each be measured separately. This model is famously known as Daniel Goleman’s five components of emotional intelligence or Goleman’s model.
- Self-awareness: an ability to focus on yourself, your actions, thoughts, and emotions and understand them, as well as their effect on others. If you’re highly self-aware, you can objectively evaluate yourself, manage emotions, align your behaviour with your values, and understand how others perceive you correctly.
- Self-regulation: the ability to control or redirect your behaviour, emotions, and thoughts to pursue long-term goals and the tendency to think before acting. Characteristics of a self-regulated person include trustworthiness and integrity; comfort with ambiguity; and openness to change.
- Internal motivation: The desire to work for reasons other than money and prestige. These reasons can be external incentives, such as an inner vision of what is essential in life, joy in doing something, interest in learning, and a sense of flow that comes with being absorbed in an activity. An internally motivated person would have a strong drive to achieve and be optimistic even in the face of failure.
- Empathy: The ability to understand another person’s emotional composition and treat them based on their emotional responses.
- Social skills: these are skills that we use to communicate and interact with others, both verbally and non-verbally. A person who ranks higher on a social skills scale would most likely be good at managing relationships and building networks.
EQ and IQ. What’s the difference?
IQ or the “Intelligence Quotient” is the measure of a person’s relative intelligence whereas the EQ, as mentioned earlier, deals with emotions and a person’s ability to manage and understand them. Right out of the box, these two terms refer to two different constructs.
IQ scores were quite popular in the 20th century. Not much was know about the concept of EQ by then and it was believed that a high IQ score always meant a successful life. Children with high IQ scored were destined for great accomplishment and fame. Nevertheless, this idea slowly lost its popularity with new research. Researchers started to point out that a high IQ level is not necessarily a pre determinant of a successful life, and the concept of IQ ignores other human capabilities. By this time theorists such as Howard Gardner came up with their own takes on intelligence. According to Gardner, intelligence had around 8 more other components, with each attributing to an entirely different human ability. For example, one of these components was interpersonal intelligence. It is the ability to sense and understand other people’s feelings and motives.
By the late 20th century, Emotional intelligence as a new term was born. Most modern experts now know that having both high IQ and EQ scores are equally important. If you are someone who ranks high in both scores, you may be in for great things, although it depends on other factors as well.
Furthermore, the original IQ tests consisted of calculating the ratio of mental age to physical or chronological age and multiplying it by 100. This is fairly different at present. Now, the score is calculated by comparing the test taker’s score to the average score of others in their age group. Here is a free online IQ test you can take right now!
Calculating Emotional Intelligence
Even though we mentioned that online EQ tests can be questionable in terms of their accuracy, there are some tests you could do to get a general picture of where you stand on the score. Furthermore, there are certain tests administered by mental health professionals which (obviously) rank higher in terms of accuracy. So if you are serious about getting your emotional intelligence test, it’s best to see a professional.
Emotional intelligence tests generally come in two types; self-report tests and ability tests. Self-report tests are the most common and easiest to use/administer. Thus, you are more likely to find a few of these online after a simple google search. When taking one of these tests you are expected to rate your own behavior. For instance, you may be asked to rate statements such as “I can recognize my emotions as I experience them” on a scale of disagree, somewhat disagree, agree, or strongly agree.
In contrast, when doing an ability test you are expected to respond to certain situations and you will then be rated by a third party based on your demonstrated skills and abilities. For instance, you may be presented with a series of faces and asked to report how many of six emotions are present. Your ability to judge emotions will then be rated.
Here are two types of emotional intelligence tests that you can do with a mental health professional,
- Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test, Version 2.0 (MSCEIT, V 2.0): a 141 scale that measures the four branches of emotional intelligence. Each branch mirrors specific skills; perceiving emotions, using emotions to facilitate thought, understanding emotions, and managing emotions.
- The Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI): this test is often used in a few different contexts. For example, in organizations, it is used to identify human resource capabilities and distinguish people who would be strong leaders. It is also used in schools and universities to identify student’s capacity to understand and work with others, understand and motivate themselves, and learn effectively. ESCI data is recorded on a 5 point scale of never, rarely, sometimes, often, and consistently.
High EQ is the way to go
Now that we have discussed quite a lot of good things about emotional intelligence, you probably understand that having a high EQ score is a really good thing. Next, let’s look at a few places where a high EQ score would help you.
First comes your workplace. Most employees in companies work in teams or groups, therefore, it is important to understand the emotions of your co-workers to have better work relationships with them. If this was the case, your work environment would most likely be a happy and healthy one. Surely this sounds wonderful, right? Let’s look at some research. A 2018 paper published in Advances in Economics, Business and Management Research explained that higher emotional intelligence among employees in organizations is associated with higher on-the-job productivity and less work stress. In addition, another study published in Procedia Economics and Finance indicated that leaders who had a higher level of emotional intelligence had happier and more productive employees.
Employers have started to notice these trends with people who have a high level of emotional intelligence. Accordingly, a lot of companies now screen and test their employees for EQ scores as a part of their recruitment process. In fact, approximately 82% of global companies utilize EQ tests for executive positions; 72% give the tests to middle management and 59% give the tests to entry-level positions. If you are considering applying for a job or going for an interview, it may be a good idea to work on your emotional intelligence.
School and university
Schools and universities can be stressful at times with all the deadlines, exams, classes, and assignments. Sometimes these stressful environments could even affect student’s mental health. This is where having a hiving a high emotional intelligence becomes important. Emotionally intelligent students are better able to manage their own emotions and relate to others around them. By the same token, emotions affect how students learn and think about learning material, therefore being emotionally aware can help them manage stress better.
Why is having low emotional intelligence bad?
Being emotionally intelligent is full of positive things. On the other hand, it is the exact opposite to having a low EQ. People with a low level of emotional intelligence have a hard time understanding their own emotions and the emotions of people around them. They aren’t good at recognizing how others feel or expressing their own feelings. All these things collectively create problems in interpersonal relationships for them. Consequently, people with a low EQ level may even find it hard to form healthy relationships with their work peers or friends.
Signs of low Emotional Intelligence
Here are a few signs that might indicate you have a low EQ score. However, keep in mind that none of these things make you a bad person, you just need to work on your emotional intelligence a bit more so that it will help you in the long run.
- You have trouble understanding what causes certain feelings.
- Having no interest in getting creative with solving your problems.
- Often finding yourself not being able to express your opinions directly or get the point across.
- You always want to be “right” in conversations or arguments. This is an indicator that you don’t handle criticism well, whether it be constructive or otherwise.
- You blame others for your problems and don’t hold yourself accountable. There is no space for growth.
Improving Emotional Intelligence
Yes, you can! Here are 10 tips that we think could help you,
1. Use an assertive style of communication
Always be respectful and try your best not to come off as too passive or aggressive. This is especially important in an organizational context. the goal here is to be direct when expressing your opinions while also being respectful.
2. Work on your active listening skills
Don’t wait for your turn to speak, make sure you listen properly first.
3. Learn to look at yourself objectively
Looking at yourself objectively isn’t easy, however, you could ask other’s who know you best about your strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind the outputs you get will most likely be personal opinions and what you should look for are patterns. If you see a pattern of negatives, then it would be a good idea to work on it.
4. Stay motivated
Set goals for yourself. Try your best to stay motivated and tough when facing challenges.
5. Take criticism well
Instead of getting defensive or offended, try to understand where the critique is coming from, how it affects others or their own performance, and a way to productively tackle the issue.
6. Show empathy
Empathy helps relate to others on a basic human level. Similarly, it can help you fit in among different people with different opinions and situations by opening the path to mutual understanding and respect.
7. Be approachable
Always be nice, approachable, and accessible. This is important if you are a team leader in an organization.
8. Be less selfish
Let’s be honest, being too selfish won’t make you a likable person no matter what context you are in.
9. Learn leadership skills
Good leaders rank higher in emotional intelligence scores. Therefore, developing your leadership skills with probably help develop your emotional intelligence as well.
10. Have an interest
Taking the time to be engaged in what you are doing, whether it be work-related or personal, is a critical aspect of regulating yourself and your emotions.
A final note
To summarize, being emotionally intelligent comes with a lot of benefits. You much have realized that by now. If you already have a higher EQ score, great! you are on the right track, but if you don’t it is important that you work on it. As we mentioned in the article, it would help you grow in both personal and professional aspects of your life.
If you are still not sure where you stand on the emotional intelligence scale or want to get a proper EQ test score accessed by a professional, please feel free to reach out to us. Here at Epsychiatry we have well-trained professionals including psychologists and psychiatrists who could calculate your EQ scores for you and even give you tips on improvement. You can also access the wide range of resources present on our website.