Emotional Intelligence is

“…the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves and for managing emotions effectively in others and ourselves.”
– Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence

“Intelligence quotient” (IQ) tests were designed early in the 20th Century to measure cognitive ability and intellect, which are still widely believed to be the whole story on intelligence. The school system all over the world was geared to valuing and developing these capacities. Other important capabilities, such as the ability to get on with other people, were largely ignored.

In the early 1980’s, some psychologists began to question the claims of IQ to be the only relevant model of intelligence.

In 1983 Howard Gardner challenged the assumptions of the IQ-only model in his book Frames of Mind, setting out his research on “multiple intelligences”. Gardner argues that we have many types of intelligence, including:

  • spatial
  • musical
  • bodily/kinaesthetic
  • intrapersonal (self-knowledge)
  • interpersonal (dealing with other people)

as well as the logical-mathematical and linguistic capabilities traditionally thought of as intelligence. Gardner’s ideas began to explain why IQ on its own was not a reliable predictor of success in most areas of life, and were enthusiastically adopted by many educationalists.

The “intrapersonal” and “interpersonal” intelligences together can also be described as emotional intelligence.

Reuven Bar-On, a clinical psychologist at Tel Aviv University, has developed psychological tests to measure a person’s ‘Emotional Quotient’ or ‘EQ’. He describes ’emotionally intelligent individuals’ as being:

“…generally optimistic, flexible and realistic and are fairly successful in solving problems and coping with stress without losing control.” (quoted in Childre and Martin, The HeartMath Solution).

Meanwhile, psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey developed the concept of “emotional intelligence” as being made up of five ‘competencies’ or skills:

  • Self-Knowledge (knowing your own emotions)
  • Self-Management (managing your own emotions)
  • Motivation
  • Empathy (recognising emotions in others)
  • Handling relationships

(NB they have now revised their model to have only four branches)

These categories were popularised by Daniel Goleman in the bestselling books Emotional Intelligence and Working with Emotional Intelligence. Goleman argues that the competencies of emotional intelligence are at least as important as traditional IQ in determining success in work and life.

Since these books came out, many other books on emotional intelligence have appeared, each seeking to redefine the concept of emotional intelligence in terms of previously existing approaches in psychology or therapy. And each consultancy that markets a psychometric test claiming to measure emotional intelligence has had to come up with a new, slightly redefined model of what EQ is.

Among the many models of EQ available, about the simplest and most elegant is Goleman’s revised four-quadrant model:

ESCI emotional intelligence quadrant


  • Emotional self-awareness


  • Achievement orientation
  • Adaptability
  • Emotional self-control
  • Positive outlook

Social awareness

  • Empathy
  • Organisational awareness

Relationship management

  • Conflict management
  • Coach and mentor
  • Influence
  • Inspirational leadership
  • Teamwork

NB in this model ‘Motivation’ is now part of ‘Self-Management’.

Free ‘What Is Emotional Intelligence?’ briefing paper

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