What is “Emotional Intelligence”?

Understand the real concept behind it.



Emotional Intelligence is the new “Buzz Word” for sure. And like any other “Buzz Word” this is being lapped up, imbibed, written on and dissolved into organization culture by various organizations without much thought to what it really is.

To make matters worse, this “Buzz Word” is being hijacked by Training Providers and Human Resource Consultants to churn out “Trainings” and “Consulting” on this topic, with more focus on “encashing the Buzz” than accuracy. This in turn promotes more confusion then interest in the subject.

Today this term is being miss-represented to mean anything to every thing; some “Experts” present it simply as “Ability not to get annoyed” while some “Experts” present it as though it comprises every single Soft skills, communication skills or interpersonal and even leadership skills in its folds.

In the true spirit of PM-Pulse, which loves to de-mystify topics and subjects around Management, let us have a look at what really this “Buzz Word” of Emotional Intelligence means. 

Emotional Intelligence simply means “Understanding emotions of Self to get along well with others”.  Yes it’s as simple as that… well its as simple as that as far as the definition is concerned but to achieve it… well that’s a different story.

Though a lot of people think that it was “Daniel Goleman” who invented this term “Emotional Intelligence”, this term was actually invented by two chaps Peter Salovey and John Mayer in 1990 though people have been struggling with this topic (using different terms) even as far back as 1930’s. The origins of this principle is from Vedas and has been mentioned in Bhagwat Geeta in the following verse.

manah?-prasadah? saumyatvam´

maunam atma-vinigrahah?

bhava-sam´suddhir ity etat

tapo manasam ucyate

Very loosely translated it means “Stability of the mind and gravity in thinking purifies self and wins over others”. A very large section of Vedas discuss this “Power over self” and has even given specific steps to attain them. Starting with Atm Bodh (Knowledge of Self), Atm Gyaanam (Self Wisdom), Maunam (Gravity in thinking or being insulated to outside stimulus)…and so on all the way to the ultimate Moksha (being at one with the universe).

Well you do not really have to attain moksh: to be good at “Emotional Intelligence”, you just need to understand what it relates to and which is “Mastery over self thought to have influence over others”.

The whole idea is how does your emotions react to the various external stimulus and to what extent. You cannot control the “Happening” of the Stimulus but you can control how your emotions react to those stimulus. And that is the essence of this topic. Now if you have good control over emotions you become very objective. Once you are objective you understand other’s emotions better and when that happens you have “Gravity” in your personality and you become perceptive and develop empathy towards others. This gives you amazing power of “Influence” over others.

This is still a developing science in western countries and management circles but has been highly researched in the Vedas and very well presented in some of the verses of Bhagwad Geeta. 

Daniel Goleman in his book “Emotional Intelligence” that he published in 1995 he stated the following outcome of his research..”What distinguishes great leaders from merely good ones? It isn’t IQ or technical skills, its Emotional Intelligence: a group of five skills that enable the best leaders to maximize their own and their followers’ performance. When senior management at once company had a critical mass of EI capabilities, their divisions outperformed yearly earnings goals by 20%.”

The five EI skills that Goleman mentioned are best shown as under and they also have to be undertaken in the following steps: -

EI Skill
Personality Traits
1. Self-Awareness Knowing one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals as well as their impact on others.
  • Self confidence
  • Realistic about self abilities
  • Self-deprecating sense of humor
  • Thirst for constructive criticism
2. Self-Regulation Controlling or redirecting disruptive emotions and impulses.
  • Trustworthiness
  • Integrity
  • Comfort with ambiguity and change
3. Motivation Being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement
  • A passion for the work itself and for new challenges
  • Unflagging energy to improve
  • Optimism in the face of failure
4. Empathy Considering others’ feelings, especially when making decisions.
  • Expertise in attracting and retaining talent
  • Ability to develop others
  • Sensitivity to cross-cultural differences
5. Social Skill Managing relationships to move people in desired directions.
  • Effectiveness in leading change
  • Persuasiveness
  • Extensive networking
  • Expertise in building and leading teams


I would suggest that you go through the table again and treat them as sequential steps where you cannot proceed to the next step in EI evolution without having mastered your previous step.

This table is a good checklist for “Atm Bodh” (Knowledge of self) and see where you stand against this checklist. And for this you must take feedback from others.

This is what emotional intelligence is all about.

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