Emotions have traditionally been represented in popular media as the part of our mental processes that need to be suppressed. Taking a quick peruse through the literature of the world for the majority of the past centuries will demonstrate how this portrayal of the need for emotional self-regulation has often been a highly gendered illustration.

After all, female hysteria used to actually be a common medical diagnosis for women, classified as a mental and behavioural disorder. Males, on the other hand, have been the subject of a disproportionate amount of social pressure to become experts in managing emotions or suppressing emotional displays for the majority of human history

While emotions and moods today still tend to be linked with a lack of intelligence or reasoning skills, there has been many shifts in society's perception of things like empathy, social skills and social awareness. Thanks to works like Goleman's breakout novel Emotional Intelligence to journalism from the Harvard Business Review, emotions and emotional learning have been rebranded as essential for great interpersonal skills, job performance and self-management.

Social intelligence is becoming an ever-expanding area of study, engendering the birth of the emotional quotient and the idea of multiple intelligences. If you're interested in understanding how you can develop a more holistic vision of an intelligence quotient, or how to break past the idea of a catch-all quotient in general, learning about the benefits of emotional awareness can be the best way to start.

From improving your social competence to increasing your awareness, cultivating your skills in understanding and perceiving emotions can be the best way to start redefining what it means to be intelligent. Developing self-control over how your emotions dictate your actions can be empowering as well as help you improve your relationships around you. If you're interested in learning about how you can become emotionally intelligent, this guide can walk you through everything you need to know: from the history of emotional intelligence to why it's relevant for today's job market.

Learn all the emotional intelligence basics with this guide!

listening skills
Developing your listening skills is one example of practicing EQ skills

Emotional Intelligence: What Is It and How do You Practice It?

Developing emotional intelligence can be a difficult concept to grasp. From the most widely known emotional intelligence test, the MSCEIT, to how emotional awareness can help you improve your soft skills - the best way to start learning about the subject is to take a quick look at the history of the emotional quotient.

The ability to be empathetic, self-aware or even to self-report your own emotions was never really associated with a high IQ. Intelligence tests in general were, in the past, seen as one of the only real indicators of a successful person. Even though the ability to empathize and understand emotions was lauded from the likes of the Dalai Lama and Adam Smith, it wasn't until Daniel Goleman’s bestseller Emotional Intelligence was released in the 90s that social and emotional learning became popular.

The main proponents of emotional intelligence in the English language have been psychologists John Mayer, Peter Salovey and David Caruso. While they were the ones that developed the intelligence test for emotions, they also have an impressive amount of publications behind them regarding emotional intelligence. The brilliance of the subject is that everyone, from gardeners to salespeople, have to deal both with their own emotions and the emotions of others. Mayer, Salovey and Caruso have identified four branches of emotional intelligence:

  • Perceiving emotions
  • Facilitating thought
  • Understanding emotions
  • Managing emotions

If you're interested in building a better rapport with yourself, your family or your colleague, learning the basics of emotional intelligence is one of the best ways to start.

The Relevance of EQ in the 21st Century

The theory of multiple intelligences has done a lot in the way of introducing new leadership styles and leadership skills to all kinds of professional fields. However, the relationship between improving your emotional state and being an effective leader can be hard to grasp. Emotions are generally classified as one of three or four classes of mental operations, depending on which definition you're basing it off of.

Amongst things like motivation and cognition, emotion is a personal and social skill that dictates much of our lives. You don't need to read a bestselling novel on brain science to see that managing negative emotions is vital to one's mental health and wellbeing. Developing emotional literacy within yourself, while still a new science, has already been linked with things like improving your relationship management and even just general intelligence.

Identifying emotional patterns in everyday life is something that can set you apart in both professional and personal settings. Correctly identifying a friend's emotional responses can lead to having a better relationship or understanding with them. Being able to correctly display particular facial expressions, feelings and emotions can help give your presentation and communication skills the credibility they need to persuade clients.

The best thing about emotional intelligence skills is the fact that they can help you understand that there is more to intelligent people than IQ tests. While academic performance is a great predictor for overall success or failure, developing skills in emotional intelligence can help you become a more well-rounded person.

Here are more reasons why the EQ might have a massive impact on your personal and professional life!

trust excercises
Try building trust with friends or family in order to build a support group for your goals

Interested in Developing Self Awareness Skills?

If you want to improve your emotional intelligence to become one of the great leaders of your community, to empower yourself or to develop a better understanding of yourself, the best way to start is by learning more about the subject. Start by reading more behind the literature and books that were involved in propelling the subject forward and learn more about the concepts and definitions behind what it means to be emotionally smart.

After completing this, your next step should be putting your newfound knowledge into practice. There are many different ways to develop a high emotional intelligence, but one of the best ways to practice social emotional learning is to start doing things that will develop your social, mental and academic capabilities.

Some of the ways you can put your emotional skills into practice include:

  • enrolling in a dance program
  • learning to play a new instrument
  • completing a novel
  • writing about your daily experiences
  • learning a new professional skill

There has been a countless number of research conducted on the subjects of how music, exercise and introspection can improve your mental health. Some of the ways to get more in touch with your emotions is to be aware of the ways that certain events, tasks or language effects your emotions. This can be done by taking stock of how your emotions develop after a particularly stressful event.

Another way you can start cultivating the skills involved in emotional intelligence is to take up more personal projects. Chances are, you haven't had much time to progress in goals like making your own short film, taking up a DIY project, or even just cleaning out your closet for the winter. Making a plan for these goals that can be divided into short but accomplishable tasks can be a great way to start developing some of the skills involved with emotional intelligence.

personal search
Practice your EQ skills by trying new things, like public speaking

Best Online Resources to Help You Develop Emotionally

Now that you understand a bit about how emotional intelligence was developed and the reasons why it can bring success in life, you may be yearning to learn more about all things related to the emotion quotient. If you're interested in learning about some of the best books and podcasts out available on the subject of emotional intelligence, here are some recommendations.


While you'll probably have to pay for these, you can enjoy them on a range of mobile and e-reading devices. The best books on emotional intelligence to start with include Bill George's Authentic Leadership and, of course, Goleman's Emotional Intelligence.


If you're looking for the definitive resources on emotional intelligence, you should start by checking out Six Seconds and HelpGuide. Both non-profits, these websites are based off organizations whose goal it is to provide information on all things involved in emotional intelligence. From how advice on family relationships to how to improve your mental health, these are some of the best websites available to you.

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