Daniel Goleman defined emotional intelligence in individuals as the ability to interact socially in a caring manner, persist, self-motivate, control impulses, delay gratification, think clearly in stressful situations, and to hope. (1995, p. 34). Goleman explained that emotional intelligence is possibly more important than IQ in explaining individual achievement and potential struggles that individuals may face later in life. He gave many examples of High IQ individuals failing miserably in life, and his work created awareness of the importance of childhood in relation to adult emotional intelligence levels. Goleman demonstrated that the lack of emotional support and appropriate role models harms people and creates almost insurmountable problems in living daily life. According to Goleman, abusive and unloving environments damage emotional intelligence. He further explained that many disorders are related to failure of being able to recognize and correctly label emotions and feelings. Goleman indicated that childhood is particularly important in developing emotional intelligence. An environment of neglect, Goleman suggested, could be even more damaging than physical abuse.
The message surrounding the concept of emotional intelligence is that parents need a heightened sense of awareness and skills in helping their children develop emotional intelligence. People, in general, need a heightened sense of awareness in recognizing their own emotional intelligence deficiencies. Though Goleman focused on childhood, adults can also benefit from developing emotional intelligence competencies.
Effectively interacting in social settings creates more opportunities in life. People who are adept at anticipating needs of others and fostering relationships create more career and relationship successes. While growing up, one may encounter those individuals who awkwardly stay in the background and remain isolated instead of cultivating relationships and achievement, as well as those who shine in social situations. Your “social butterfly” child may succeed more in life than your studious, straight “A” student. Learn to appreciate the skills of a social child and help cultivate social skills in shy children. The emotional intelligence component involving the ability to delay gratification also affects goals like finishing college, maintaining a healthy weight, saving money, and achieving long-term goals. Strong self-motivation compels people to move forward with goals and challenges even when there is no one present giving the proverbial “pat on the back” or “great job”. Controlling impulses impacts people’s lives through obedience of laws and controlling aggressive behavior when angry. Individuals who effectively control impulses think before they speak or act. Self-discipline is the effective anti-serum to impulses. Controlling impulses may mean knowing when to stop talking, when to walk out of a room, stopping at one cookie, or refraining from purchasing that new car when you know the payments will create a financial squeeze. When facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, persistence is the tool that creates success. Anything worthwhile requires persistence whether it is playing the piano, learning to ride a bike, learning a foreign language, finishing a project at work, or making it through a rough spot with your spouse or child.
Since we also live in a fast-paced, ever-changing world, thinking clearly during stressful times and having hope profoundly affect the quality of everyday life. When a person is able to be calm when a child has a melt-down in the middle of the store during the Christmas shopping season, this person sends a message that circumstances do not need to dictate mood or stress levels. When a person hopes in the face of a child’s severe illness or a financial crisis, all is not lost. Positive energy is created and harnessed that makes the situation and life better. Take a moment to reflect on your own levels of emotional intelligence. What are your strengths? Where are the areas that you need improvement? Are any of your improvement areas impacting your life or your family negatively? What are you going to do about it? Seek the skills that you need. Ask for help. Ask for advice. Read. Learn. I truly desire for you to live a life full of joy, peace, passion, and energy. Cultivating your emotional intelligence moves you along this joyful path.
Reference: Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. New York: Bantam Books.
by Sheri Kaye Hoff, MA, CGCL, Life Coach and Author