Wechsler defined intelligence as “the aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment” . However, unlike traditional concepts of intelligence that focus solely on mental ability and intellect, emotional intelligence is associated with the relationships that one develops with the constituents of one’s environment. The origin of this concept lies in the various attempts to define social intelligence. To date, the most widely accepted definition was provided by Thorndike which states that social intelligence is the “ability to perceive one’s own and other’s internal states, motives and behaviours, and to act toward then optimally on the basis of that information . Despite its close link with emotional intelligence, theorists derailed the concept of social intelligence as stemming from the need to control the actions of other and manipulating them for personal gain. Instead of social intelligence, Gardner has used the term personal intelligence, segregating It further into inter and intra personal intelligence.
Although earlier attempts at finding a meaning definition and classification for social and personal intelligence failed, there has been a renewed interest in the subjects as surveys regularly reveal that people’s perception of intelligence includes factors such as the ability to accept diversity and difference in others, knowledge that goes beyond one’s immediate purview and being able to recognize and acknowledge one’s own shortcomings. Salovey and Mayer conducted a research of several psychological studies that provided scattered but relevant material that proved to be guidance in understanding emotional intelligence . Through their research, they were able to identify three key steps a process that defines emotional intelligence. The steps are: a) expressing, evaluating, developing emotions of one’s self as well as other, b) controlling and managing these emotions, and c) utilizing these emotions in an adaptive manner. While this basic process remains the same for everyone, each individual shows a varying degree of ability to execute these steps effectively. Further, the acquisition of skills that enhance mental health also differs from person to person.
The ability of a person to control their emotions and channel them towards the resolution of problems dictates their emotional competence. To begin with, a person who has unstable emotions is prone to be fickle-minded and indecisive, leading to the formulation of several prospective plans and a lack of focus in their execution. Overly positive outlook on a subject could lead to thoughts being arranged in order to link them to a positive outcome. Feelings often govern the order in which a person prioritizes tasks. Lastly, feelings and emotions can be utilized to encourage positive performance of intellectual assignments by an individual as well as those around them. There are several aspects of emotions that can be utilized in an unorthodox manner to have a positive influence on one’s day to day life. It may seem that a person who is in a bad mood is having low emotional intelligence. However, when a person is in a negative frame of mind, they are more likely to anticipate a variety of possible outcomes in a given situation when compared to people with a positive mood who expect plans to work without a glitch.
On the other hand, people with a positive disposition are better equipped to note the unique and similar characteristics of a situation and identify them with earlier experiences in order to devise a creative method to solve current issues. As people in a positive mood do not anticipate failure, they are more likely to take innovative approaches towards problem solving. When a person is aware of his or her emotions, they are better able to identify the importance in internal and external relationships and their problems, thus being able to give attention to the tasks that will have the greatest impact on their lives and well being. For example, if a person who is undergoing a divorce chooses to ignore his or her emotions and diverts attention towards work, they will find themselves in great emotional turmoil that will not only ruin their personal life but will impact their professional performance as well. The manner in which people use emotions to motivate themselves also varies from person to person. While anxiety and the fear of a negative outcome may spur one person to improve performance, other may rely on positive moods to boost their confidence levels. However, people with positive outlooks have an overall positive effect on those around them and are hence able to maintain between inter and intra personal relationships.
In conclusion, it can be said that, while the emotional response to a given situation varies from individual to individual, the impact of emotional intelligence on personal as well as professional life remains the same. In order to be emotionally competent, a person would need to identify, control and manage their individual emotions as well as those of others with whom them interact, and utilize this knowledge and skill to optimally deal with problems.
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of Mind. New York: Basic Books.
Salovey, P., & Mayer, J. D. (1990). Emotional Intelligence. New Haven, CT: Baywoon Publishing Co., Inc.
Thorndike, E. (1920). Intelligence and its uses. Harper's Magazine , 140, pp. 227-235.
Wechsler, D. (1958). The measurement and appraisal of adult intelligence. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.