Emotional Intelligence Meaning
Emotional intelligence (EI) is most often defined as the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions. People with high emotional intelligence can recognize their own emotions and those of others, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, and adjust emotions to adapt to environments. Although the term first appeared in 1964, it gained popularity in the 1995 best-selling book Emotional Intelligence, written by science journalist Daniel Goleman. Goleman defined EI as the array of skills and characteristics that drive leadership performance.
Emotional Intelligence Definition
According to Daniel Goleman, “Emotional intelligence is the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in our self and in our relationships”
According to Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, “Emotional intelligence is the ability to keep an eye on one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”.
Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence
Goleman describes five core characteristics of emotional intelligence in organisational behaviour OB, which are as follows:
1) Self-Awareness: This dimension consists of knowing one’s internal state, resources, preferences, and intuitions. It is the ability to recognize and interpret feelings as they are happening and to perform accurate self-assessment. This also includes the ability to be at peace with oneself and to have confidence in oneself. Self-awareness is being able to not let social norms get in the way of a personal mindset.
2) Self-Management/Self-Regulation: It is the ability to keep impulses and emotions in check by exhibiting self-control. It also includes the ability to keep standards of things, like honesty and respect. Self-management involves the ability for one to take responsibility for one’s actions, the ability to adapt to change, and the ability to come up with novel ideas and approaches to situations.
3) Motivation: It is the ability to guide and facilitate goals, both long-term and short-term. It involves a drive for achievement, the ability to commit and take initiative as well as a sense of confidence about a goal. Motivation usually involves doing things we do not want to do, yet doing them anyway.
4) Empathy: Another dimension of emotional intelligence is empathy. Emotional intelligence helps to read and understand the emotional make-up of others. It is the ability to understand others’ needs, perspectives, feelings, concerns, and sense their developmental needs.
Importance of Emotional Intelligence
The importance of emotional intelligence in organizational behavior is as follows:
1) Building Strong Relationships: Emotional intelligence helps build strong relationships emotional intelligence is vitally important when talking about working with colleagues, friendships, or romantic relationships. With the ability to empathize, keep calm in the face of another person, understands the needs and wants of others, to be flexible enough to sustain a relationship, otherwise, things can go badly wrong.
2) Improves Communication with Others: When persons act with emotional intelligence they can improve their communication with others because they develop a whole set of skills and strategies that allow for more meaningful communications.
3) Better Empathy Skills: Empathy is understanding another person’s emotional makeup. It is a core emotional intelligence skill in communication. Without the ability to feel how the other person might be feeling, people are unlikely to have a close relationship or influence others effectively. They will always feel that they do not really understand them and they can be right.
4) Acting with Integrity: Integrity is another core of emotional intelligence ability. Integrity is an act of doing things right through their actions, beliefs, and words even when no one is watching them. It refers to the loyalty, honesty, and honourable behavior of a person in such a way that is consistent with his core beliefs, being true to himself and being honest with others. When a person acts with emotional intelligence and a high degree of integrity at work, this means that the person is trustworthy and reliable and therefore other people respect and trust him.
6) Improved Career Prospects: All managers want to employ someone who is emotionally intelligent. They will not necessarily call it that though. Clued-up managers know that they can train people in technical skills much more quickly than they can train them in emotional intelligence.
7) Manage Change more Confidently: People with low emotional intelligence often find change difficult. They do not feel confident enough in themselves to bend and adapt to the wind of change. This means they often turn their face against change, denying the need for it, and eventually lose out as progress happens around them. Instead of adopting change and growing with it, they change only when forced to, even then reluctantly with poor grace.
Limitations of Emotional Intelligence
For all its benefits, emotional intelligence has just as many limitations. These limitations are as follows:
1) Emotional intelligence is too Vague a Concept: Too many researchers, and it is not clear what emotional intelligence is. Is it a form of intelligence? Most of us would not think that being self-aware or self-motivated or having empathy is a matter of understanding. So, is Emotional intelligence a misnomer? Moreover, many times different researchers focus on different skills, making it difficult to get a definition of emotional intelligence. One researcher may study self-discipline. Another may study empathy. Another may look at self-awareness. The concept of Emotional intelligence has now become so broad and the components so variegated that, it is no longer even an intelligible concept.
2) Emotional intelligence cannot be Measured: Many critics have raised questions about measuring emotional intelligence. Because emotional intelligence is a form of intelligence, for instance, then there must be right and wrong answers about it on tests, they argue. Some tests do have right and wrong answers, although the validity of some of the questions on these measures is questionable. For example, one measure asks us to associate particular feelings with specific colours, as if purple always makes us feel cool, not warm. Other measures are self-reported, which means there is no right or wrong answer. For example, an emotional intelligence test question might ask to respond to the statement, “I am good at ‘reading’ other people.” In general, the measures of Emotional intelligence are diverse, and researchers have not subjected them to as much meticulous study as they have measures of personality and general intelligence.
3) Validity of Emotional intelligence is Suspect: Some critics argue that because Emotional intelligence is so closely related to intelligence and personality, once you control for these factors, emotional intelligence has nothing unique to offer. There is some foundation to this argument. Emotional intelligence appears to be highly correlated with measures of personality, especially emotional stability. But there has not been enough research on whether emotional intelligence adds insight beyond measures of personality and general intelligence in predicting job performance. Still, among consulting firms and in the popular press, emotional intelligence is wildly popular. For example, one company’s promotional materials for an emotional intelligence measure claimed, “Emotional intelligence accounts for more than 85 per cent of star performance in top leaders.” To say the least, it is hard to validate this statement with the research literature.
Implications of Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence has several implications in organizations, both business and non-business. Emotional intelligence can be applied in the following areas:
Some of the implications of Emotional Intelligence are as follows:
- Filling Organisational Positions
- Credibility of Managers
- Effective Communication
- Stress Management
- Work Life
- Leadership Effectiveness
- Handling Frustration
- Conflict Resolution
1) Filling Organisational Positions: In any organization, various types of positions are created. These positions are at different levels and in different functional areas of the organization. An organization that is likely to succeed in these positions are occupied by those employees who can meet the requirement of these positions. Thus, while filling the various organizational positions, an attempt is made to match jobs and individuals. In this matching process, various characteristics of individuals are taken into account such as age, educational background, experience, personality, emotional maturity, etc. While all these characteristics may be important for performing jobs well, recent emphasis in the recruitment and selection process is being put on emotional intelligence because of its contribution to professional success. Because of this reason, many psychologists have made attempts to find out the level of emotional intelligence required for different types of jobs so that there is a match between employees and their jobs.
2) Work Life: Work life is concerned with the impact of work on people as well as on organizational effectiveness and the idea of participation in organizational problem solving and decision making. High emotional intelligence is very applicable in improving the quality of work life. Emotional intelligence stimulates motivation, eases, change, reduces stress, improves communication, and enhances rational decisions making. It develops positive thinking towards oneself and others. It protects people from threats of psychological nature generated by criticism.
3) Credibility of Managers: Credibility of managers is a prerequisite for managerial success, credibility is built by what one says and does. When there is a difference between what one says and does, a credibility gap exists. The credibility of a person is reflected in the features such as trustworthiness, integrity, honesty, informativeness, and dynamism. Through high emotional intelligence, all these features can be enhanced in a person because it stimulates consistency in behavior making the behavior highly predictable by others. Further, since high emotional intelligence leads to high self-esteem, the person adjusts his behavior according to the situation to protect his self-esteem. Thus, it can be safely concluded that high emotional intelligence enables a person to develop credibility.
4) Leadership Effectiveness: Leadership is a process of supporting and influencing others to work enthusiastically towards achieving the desired result. If a person influences his followers (in an organizational context, subordinates) for productivity on a long-term basis, he is an effective leader. High emotional intelligence on the part of the person leads to his effectiveness.
According to Goleman, “Various resource person in leadership development offer their advice based on inference, experience, and instinct and not based on scientific data. With a result, leadership qualities are not developed appropriately”.
Goleman says that emotional intelligence, especially at the higher level of an organization, is the sine qua non for leadership. Data documenting the links between the emotional intelligence of leaders and the performance of organizations indicate a very high positive correlation.
5) Effective Communication: Emotional intelligence helps in perceiving the meaning of any message in its correct perspective. Similar is the case with sending the message. Often, in interpersonal face-to-face communication, body language, that is, the movement of various parts of the body of the message sender plays an important role. If the sender does not have emotional maturity, he is likely to communicate something different through his body language even though he may use correct words in phrasing his message. Emotional intelligence helps in avoiding such deformation in communication, thereby making communication effective. In general, emotional intelligence helps in making communication effective.
6) Handling Frustration: Frustration is the accumulated tension generated through the non-satisfaction of needs. Through the person may make repeated efforts for satisfying his needs, there may be many external factors that hamper need satisfaction and frustration goes on. This frustration is dysfunctional for a healthy personality and, therefore, must be overcome.
7) Stress Management: Since stress beyond the optimum level is dysfunctional, it must be managed effectively. Emotional intelligence helps in managing stress effectively. In fact, stress management largely depends on striking an emotional balance between a potential stress condition and one’s reaction to it. Any event has two aspects-positive and negative. If a positive aspect of the event is emphasized, it becomes less stressful because stress is a psychological phenomenon and depends on how one interprets an event.
Emotional intelligence stimulates for interpretation of an event in its right perspective by:
- The event at work and in life and what cognitions it elicits.
- Becoming aware of the effects of such cognitions on the physical and emotional responses.
- Systematically evaluating the objective consequences of the event and
- Replacing self-defeating cognitions that unnecessarily arouse stress.
8) Conflict Resolution: Emotional intelligence not only helps in resolving conflicts but also helps in creating situations for non-arousal of conflicts. If one analyses the real cause of a conflict, one may find that it takes place because of the incompatibility of attitudinal and emotional sets of the parties involved in it rather than any major issue. Thus, if attitudinal and emotional sets are managed properly, there is every possibility that conflict will not arise. Emotional intelligence helps in managing these sets by making people aware of why a person is taking a particular stand on an issue. This awareness helps in bringing the two parties involved in a conflict to the real issue breaking down the emotional vulnerability. When the parties to the conflict do not bring their emotion into the conflict, they are in a position to understand the real issues in the conflict and the conflict is resolved cordially.