What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability and willingness to attend to and modify emotions in oneself and others. Often, this is done through empathy and controlled emotional expression. People who are emotionally intelligent are able to recognize and manage their own and other’s emotions, as well as communicate those emotions to others through non-verbal cues.

Benefits of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is important for a variety of reasons. Benefits of high emotional intelligence include:

  • Employers are increasingly looking for employees with high levels of both cognitive ability (IQ) and EI1
  • Supervisors tend to rate their emotionally intelligent employees higher on task performance, interpersonal facilitation, and job dedication than their less proficient peers2
  • The recognition and regulation of one’s own emotions can also help buffer against job-related stress3
  • Employees high in EI tend to be more engaged and less likely to leave the organization4
  • Effective leaders know how to balance logic (IQ) and intuition (EQ) when making decisions5
  • Leaders who are self-aware are also more agile, adaptable, and receptive to feedback6
  • Emotional intelligence has been shown as beneficial for teamwork, particularly in managing constructive conflict and conflict resolution7

12 Emotional Intelligence Questions to Ask Yourself

How strong is your emotional intelligence? Use the self-reflection questions below to gauge your strengths and opportunities for development.

  1. Do you practice checking in with yourself regarding how you are feeling? If so, are you
    able to describe in words how you feel?
  2. Do you have a process to calm yourself down when you get angry, frustrated, or
    stressed? If so, what is your process?
  3. Do you find yourself getting distracted by your own thoughts or things in the
    environment when listening to others? If so, what do you do to stay focused?
  4. When you see others in distress, do you typically intervene? If so, what steps do you
    take to help? How are your actions received by others?
  5. Do you conceal how you are feeling to your coworkers? When do you think it is
    appropriate to express your emotions at work? When is it inappropriate? Are there
    times when you would like to be more/less controlled?
  6. Think about the people directly and indirectly impacted by your decisions at work.
    How would you feel if you were in their position(s)?
  7. Do you tend to trust your intuition? How do you balance your intuition with logic?
  8. When is it easier versus harder for you to be creative? Does your mood impact your
  9. Think about one positive thing that came out of the last negative experience you were
    in (even if it is small). What did you learn from that negative experience?
  10. Think about the aspects of your work that drive you to produce high quality work.
    What was the last project you worked on that you felt motivated by?
  11. Think about the long-term goals you have that you would like to prioritize. Does your
    everyday work behavior bring you closer or further to those goals?
  12. Are your tendencies different at work versus at home? Are there certain people,
    events, or projects that are particularly triggering for you – times when it is harder to
    control your emotions than others. If so, why do you think this is?

Measure Emotional Intelligence with SIGMA

If you are interested in learning more about EI, SIGMA has the tools to help you get started. The Multidimensional Emotional Intelligence Assessment-Workplace-Revised (MEIA-W-R) is a valid and reliable measure of emotional intelligence, specifically designed to capture EI at work. The test can be administered easily online and generates a user-friendly report that will help you understand your emotional intelligence, identify strengths, and begin working on opportunities for development. For more information contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is Emotional Intelligence Measured?

Emotional intelligence can be measured using science-based assessments. These assessments should be valid, reliable, and developed by experts in the field.

SIGMA’s Multidimensional Emotional Intelligence Assessment – Workplace – Revised (MEIA-W-R) is an example of such an assessment. The MEIA-W-R assesses emotional intelligence in a workplace context.

The assessment consists of 78 items that assess 11 distinct dimensions of emotional intelligence. These dimensions include:

  1. Recognition of emotion in the self
  2. Regulation of emotion in the self
  3. Recognition of emotion in others
  4. Regulation of emotion in others
  5. Expressive control
  6. Empathy
  7. Trust in intuition
  8. Creative thinking
  9. Mood redirected attention
  10. Motivation
  11. Delayed gratification

These dimensions are measured using subscales in the overall assessment. Results are immediately summarized in a customized report that provides scores, definitions, analyses, and tips for development. If you would like to learn more, check out this sample report or contact us to discuss how you can measure emotional intelligence at your workplace too!

How to Improve Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence can be learned. Some facets of EI may be more innate to you than others, but everyone has the capacity to develop new strengths through specific and sustained effort. For tips on how to develop your emotional intelligence, check out our blog on developing emotional intelligence at work. For quick tips and guides on how to develop each facet of EI, check out our EI Skill Development Series.

What are the Components of Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is often treated as an ability or capacity. SIGMA, however, uses a personality-based approach. A personality-based approach to EI measures willingness or tendency rather than just ability. This is important, because a leader may have the ability to read their team members and comfort or encourage them when upset (e.g., sympathy or humor), but if they are not inclined to put it into practice, the emotional intelligence is useless.  
SIGMA’s model of emotional intelligence outlines 11 unique facets that touch on the emotions of the self and of others: 

1. Recognition of emotion in the self 
2. Regulation of emotion in the self 
3. Recognition of emotion in others 
4. Regulation of emotion in others 
5. Expressive control 
6. Empathy 
7. Trust in intuition 
8. Creative thinking 
9. Mood redirected attention 
10. Motivation 
11. Delayed gratification 

These facets can be grouped into Core EI and Proximal Outcomes. If you would like to learn more about the components of emotional intelligence, check out this blog on understanding the dimensions of EI.

1 Silliker, A. (2011, October 24). EI valued more than IQ in hiring, promoting. Canadian HR Reporter. https://www.hrreporter.com/news/hr-news/ei-valued-more-than-iq-in-hiring-promoting/314046

2 Law, K. S., Wong, C. S., & Song, L. J. (2004). The construct and criterion validity of emotional intelligence and its potential utility for management studies. Journal of Applied Psychology89(3), 483-496. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.89.3.483

3 Karimi, L., Leggat, S. G., Donohue, L., Farrell, G., & Couper, G. E. (2014). Emotional rescue: The role of emotional intelligence and emotional labour on well‐being and job‐stress among community nurses. Journal of Advanced Nursing70, 176-186. https://doi.org/10.1111/jan.12185

4 Brunetto, Y., Teo, S. T., Shacklock, K., & Farr‐Wharton, R. (2012). Emotional intelligence, job satisfaction, well‐being and engagement: explaining organisational commitment and turnover intentions in policing. Human Resource Management Journal22(4), 428-441. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-8583.2012.00198.x

5 Smith, M., Van Oosten, E., & Boyatzis, R. E. (2020, June 12). The Best Managers Balance Analytical and Emotional Intelligence. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2020/06/the-best-managers-balance-analytical-and-emotional-intelligence

6 Edmondson, A. C., & Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2020, October 19). Today’s Leaders Need Vulnerability, Not Bravado. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2020/10/todays-leaders-need-vulnerability-not-bravado

7 Schlaerth, A., Ensari, N., & Christian, J. (2013). A meta-analytical review of the relationship between emotional intelligence and leaders’ constructive conflict management. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations16, 126-136. https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430212439907