What is emotional intelligence? The definition and my thoughts on a common test

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How do you define emotional intelligence? Have you ever taken a test to see if you are emotionally intelligent?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, emotional intelligence is:

“…the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Emotional intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success.

What can we take from this definition? In order to be considered emotionally intelligent you must be:

  • Aware of your emotions. You have to be able to recognize when you are feeling things like happiness or sadness or anger.
  • In control of your emotions. You need to be able to keep your emotional state balanced, without a lot of extremes.
  • Able to express your emotions. It is important to be able to tell others (or show them) how you are feeling, ideally in an appropriate way.
  • Able to maintain interpersonal relationships well. You need to be able to keep up friendships, and relationships with colleagues and family members.

What are the 5 components of emotional intelligence?

There are 5 key aspects of emotional intelligence to be aware of. If you are lacking in any of these areas, do some research on how you can improve. I recommend a good book on the subject:

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Component 1- Self awareness

Like I mentioned above, it is important to be aware of your emotions. Something I am grateful for in my journey with mental health is that I am always aware of how I am doing. I have never lost sight of whether I am having a good day or a bad day.

If you struggle in this area, try daily journaling. It could even be as simple as writing down one positive thing you are feeling as well as one negative thing. You could free associate if the emotions are hard to identify.

If you need another way to improve in this area, you can ask a friend to serve as an accountability partner. They can tell you when you are having a “good day” or a “bad day,” in case you can’t tell for yourself.

Component 2- Self control

Once you are aware of the way you are feeling, you need to be able to do your best to control as many negative emotions as you can. Some examples of these are:

  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • Greed
  • Regret
  • Pride (sometimes)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability

If you are finding yourself unable to control these emotions, I would make an appointment with your doctor. They might be able to recommend a better medication, or they might suggest you go to therapy more often.

This is another time when an accountability partner would come in handy. Come up with a pre-determined safe word, something the friend can say to you in public to let you know you’re losing control.

Component 3- Social skills

If you are wanting to improve your social skills consider joining a group or signing up for a class! Most major towns have local moms or dads groups that meet regularly. These would be really great ways to work on your social skills.

Here are some examples of common social skills to try and develop:

  • Empathetic listening
  • Balanced conversation (equal give and take)
  • Appropriate body language
  • Good sense of personal space

The good thing is, these are very easy to practice! Just make it a habit every time you are out and about to work on these things, and they will feel easier very soon.

Component 4- Empathy

This is a really important skill for those who want to become more emotionally intelligent. People don’t just want to talk at you when they are struggling. They want you to really listen, and respond with empathy.

How can you be more empathetic? Follow these tips below:

  • Respect people’s physical and emotional boundaries
  • When someone is speaking, use appropriate facial expressions
  • Respond the way you wish someone would respond to you
  • Practice kindness in every interaction

For example, if someone you don’t care for tells you they just lost their job, how should you react? Should you think “Aha, sucker!” and smirk? Or should you say, “I’m sorry to hear that. Good luck finding something else!” The ability to do that is a sign of an emotionally mature person.

Component 5- Motivation

Possibly the most important component of emotional intelligence is having the motivation to constantly grow and change. We should always be growing, in every aspect of life.

Sometimes, we sink back into old patterns and find ourselves being immature. This happens to the best of us, but when it does, make an effort to change your mindset. It really does make a difference!

A common emotional intelligence test

This test found on Psychology Today measures your emotional intelligence in just 45 minutes. That might sound like a long time, but they really need a lot of data to be able to accurately measure it.


Take it and let me know your score in the comments!

My thoughts on a test

I haven’t always been the most emotionally mature person. I am still a work in progress but I have come a long way.

For too long, I did not live by the 5 components of emotional intelligence.

  1. I have always been pretty self aware in the sense of recognizing when I’m having a good day or a bad day. But I often stopped being aware of the effects that my moods had on others. This is sometimes as important as being self aware: realizing how you effect other people.
  2. I very rarely employed self control. I lived in a haze of depression and anxiety. This was before I practiced daily gratitude and positive affirmations. I have to train myself to be in control of my emotions. It is something that I still struggle with, but it gets easier the more I work at it.
  3. My social skills were a little poor. In some ways, it is still something I need to work on! I tend to unintentionally interrupt others in an effort to get my thoughts out. I don’t always have good body language. What I can say about myself? I am always growing and learning.
  4. I was not empathetic when I needed to be. Instead, I thought about how situations affected me personally, rather than keeping others in mind.
  5. One thing I can say is that as of today, I am very motivated to continue to grow. As long as I can say that, than I am doing my best.

Should you take it or not?

Do I think emotional intelligence tests are important? Yes and no. I think it is important to be aware of how “feelings savvy” we are. We need to be aware of how we feel, and of how we make others feel.

I also think putting a number on it can be damaging. If you receive a negative score, I think that can lead to feelings of guilt and depression that will not serve you. On the flip aide, if you get a great score, it might make you lose your commitment to growth and working on yourself.

So take the emotional intelligence test, by all means. But take the results with a grain of salt. After all, no one knows you better than you, right?

What is emotional intelligence, emotional intelligence definition

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What score would YOU give your emotional intelligence? Which of the 5 components do you most need to work on?

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