5 Main Components of Emotional Intelligence

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, manage and use emotions or sentiments in a positive way to release stress, empathize with others, communicate with others effectively, and diffuse conflicting or difficult situations. Emotional intelligence1 is the ability to recognize our emotions and yet have the ability to control them and express or communicate them in the right way. It helps us be aware of our feelings, helps us make an informed decision about what matters the most to us, and turns our intentions into actions.

Emotional intelligence is at times also referred to as Emotional Quotient2 or EQ. Several components of emotional intelligence are integrated to give us the concept of emotional intelligence as a whole. The concept of emotional intelligence was first explored and described by Salovey and Mayer. There has been the development of various methods to measure EQ. The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), The Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue), and Wong’s Emotional Intelligence Scale (WEIS) are a few of the measures of EQ.

Components of Emotional Intelligence

According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped popularize the concept of emotional intelligence, there are 5 main components of emotional intelligence.3

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Voin_Sveta on Shutterstock

The different components of emotional intelligence are:

1. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness means being aware of the different aspects of yourself, including behavior, traits, and feelings. It is the ability to focus our attention on how our emotions, thoughts, and actions do or do not align with our standards of an ideal self. Self-awareness is one of the critical components of emotional intelligence, as being able to recognize and understand our own emotions is a critical skill needed to become emotionally intelligent.

To become a self-aware individual, one must monitor their own emotions, correctly identifying the emotions one feels and recognizing the reasons for their different emotional reactions. Self-aware individuals can also create a relationship between what they feel and how they react.

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Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

Apart from emotions, self-aware people can realize their strengths and limitations, are open to new experiences and information, and learn from their interactions with different individuals. Such individuals are also aware of their effect or impact on other people. A good sense of humor, confidence in their abilities, and awareness of how others perceive them are a few of the attributes of self-aware individuals.

Ways to Enhance Self-Awareness

The ways to enhance self-awareness are:

  • Take constructive criticism
  • Set goals
  • Learn new skills
  • Journaling
  • Meditate
  • Reflect on experiences
  • Positive self-talk
  • Pursue things you’re passionate about
  • Develop a growth mindset
  • Focusing attention on your emotions and thoughts

2. Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is the ability to manage and monitor your energy and emotional states, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a socially acceptable manner. The components of emotional intelligence and awareness of one’s emotions also include regulating and managing our emotions.

Managing emotions does not imply concealing your true feelings or sentiments, and it means expressing them at the right time and in the right place. Self-regulation, in a way, means expressing or communicating your feelings appropriately. It also includes the ability to control your impulses and thinking before speaking or reacting. It is all about being in control.

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Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

Individuals skilled in self-regulation tend to adapt to changes well, are flexible, and can manage conflicts or diffuse tense situations. Daniel Goleman states that people who have strong self-regulation take charge of their actions and respond appropriately to other individuals’ irrational behaviors or emotions, thinking of how they influence or affect others and not compromising their values.

Ways to Enhance Self-Regulation 

The ways to enhance self-regulation are:

  • Improve your communication skills
  • Stand firm on your values
  • Work on validating your emotions
  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Changing emotional responses and thought patterns using cognitive reframing
  • Take challenges or obstacles as opportunities
  • Build distress coping skills
  • Be mindful of your sentiments and thoughts
  • Find a healthy manner to deal with difficult emotions.

3. Social Skills

Humans are social beings and social needs with friends and family or belongingness are important to human beings. Social skills are thus one of the important components of emotional intelligence. Individuals with strong social skills can connect to other individuals very fast, develop meaningful bonds, and develop a greater understanding of others.

Emotional intelligence is not just about understanding others and your emotions. It also includes using that understanding as information in your communication. If one understands their emotions but can’t communicate them to others, they are not emotionally intelligent.

Individuals with good social skills are good at all kinds of communication. You can say you have great communication skills, manage or lead a group of people, are good at managing time, and use persuasion or diplomacy to solve conflicts.4

Ways to Enhance Social Skills

The ways to enhance social skills are:

  • Initiate conversations
  • Try to maintain eye contact while talking
  • Observe your body language
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Observe other’s social skills
  • Show interest while communicating with someone
  • Practice being an active listener
  • Praise or compliment others

4. Empathy 

Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s feelings or emotions from their position or basically to put yourself in their shoe. Empathy is one of the most critical components of emotional intelligence.

Empathy is more than just perceiving emotions or understanding one’s feelings; it also involves how you react toward them with that understanding. It involves how you support or lift someone when they feel hopeless or sad. It is about the care and concern that you show toward others. Being empathetic means having a sense of power dynamic in different relations and its effect on other social relationships like in a workplace setting. Here the individual learns or puts into action relationship management.5

Empathetic people have traits like perceiving others’ situations, being keen on other individuals’ stresses and concerns, anticipating emotional responses of people during difficult circumstances or problems, comprehension of societal standards, and why individuals act in the manner in which they do. Before being able to understand others, one should be able to understand themselves.

Ways to Enhance Empathy

The ways to enhance empathy are:

  • Appreciate other’s struggle
  • Listen to other’s rant
  • Be open about your feelings
  • Engage in some work that has a good cause
  • Try meditating on the feeling of loving-kindness

5. Motivation

Among the components of emotional intelligence, this one initiates, maintains, and also guides goal-oriented behavior. For a layman, motivation can be said to be the drive that makes someone do something. Motivation is one of the important components of emotional intelligence as it is keen to learn and improve oneself. It is setting goals and aligning your actions in the direction to attain that goals. It is also overcoming any difficulty or obstacles on the path to attaining your goal.

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Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels

There are two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is reward-driven or has an incentive involved. Intrinsic motivation is not reward-driven; rather, it drives behavior that individuals like or enjoy doing. For example, if one plays sports just because they enjoy it, this is intrinsic motivation, but if someone is playing sports to win the reward and not for the sake that they like playing, it is extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation or internal motivation is more important for emotional intelligence. Emotionally intelligent individuals are motivated by things that are beyond external rewards, like money and fame. A motivated person is committed to completing the task at hand, takes the initiative to start new things, and is diligent even with affliction. These individuals are also passionate and action-oriented.

Ways to Enhance Motivation  

The ways to enhance motivation are:

  • Celebrate small wins
  • Set goals or small targets as a part of a bigger goal
  • Avoid focusing on external awards
  • Challenge yourself
  • Take setbacks as an opportunity to learn

An individual might be the smartest in the room, and yet he won’t be the one who is most fulfilled with life. People with a high Intelligent Quotient (IQ) might have guaranteed admission into the top colleges but aren’t sure that they will be able to deal with stresses healthily or will be able to maintain their relationships with others. Intelligence or intellect is not the only thing that one needs to be successful in life. IQ and EQ are two interdependent concepts, and individuals should have both equally developed to be successful.

The concept of emotional intelligence is still not known to many. Still, EQ can affect our physical health, our performance at school or our workplace, our mental health, our relationship with our friends and family, and our social awareness or social intelligence. To become emotionally intelligent, one can start enhancing components of emotional intelligence one by one. These components are important pathways to becoming emotionally intelligent.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Constitutes Emotional Intelligence’s Essential Elements?

Self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills are the main elements of emotional intelligence.

2. What Does Emotional Intelligence Mean by Self-Awareness?

Understanding one’s own emotions, strengths, shortcomings, and how they affect others is a necessary component of self-awareness.

3. Can One Learn Emotional Intelligence?

Yes, with self-reflection, practice, and feedback from others, emotional intelligence may be gained and grown through time.

4. What Makes Emotional IQ so Crucial?

Better relationships, efficient communication, and success in both the personal and professional spheres can all be attributed to emotional intelligence. Additionally, it can enhance physical and mental well-being.

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  1. Conte, Jeffrey M. “A review and critique of emotional intelligence measures.” Journal of organizational behavior 26.4 (2005): 433-440. ↩︎
  2. Bar-On, Reuven. BarOn emotional quotient inventory. Vol. 40. Multi-health systems, 1997. ↩︎
  3. Noorafshan, Leaila, and Bahram Jowkar. “The effect of emotional intelligence and its components on creativity.” Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences 84 (2013): 791-795. ↩︎
  4. Jönsson, Christer, and Karin Aggestam. “Diplomacy and conflict resolution.” The SAGE Handbook of Conflict Resolution (2009): 33-51. ↩︎
  5. O’Leary, Chris, Sally Rao, and Chad Perry. “Improving customer relationship management through database/internet marketing: a theory‐building action research project.” European journal of marketing 38.3/4 (2004): 338-354. ↩︎

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Shivangi Somani

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