Components of Emotional Intelligence

 Emotional Intelligence Components

Aristotle spoke of the rare ability “to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way.” This is just one example of how emotional intelligence manifests in life.

The Components of Emotional Intelligence:

Self-awareness: the cornerstone of emotional intelligence–a capacity to recognize your feelings as they occur

Emotional control: an ability to manage your emotional reactions, control impulse, and to recover from life’s upsets

Self-motivation: skill at using your emotions in the service of a goal, staying hopeful despite setbacks

Empathy: emotional sensitivity to others; a talent for tuning into others’ feelings, and reading their unspoken messages

Handling relationships: grace in dealing with others–strong social skills are the key to popularity, leadership, and interpersonal effectiveness

How do you measure up?

Science shows that we each have a basic temperament with emotional “setpoints” for each of these capacities . . . but that’s not the whole story.

The brain is extraordinarily flexible. Your initial strengths and weaknesses may be determined by your brain circuitry, but each of these five skills can be improved.

Through conscious effort and learning, we can increase our emotional intelligence at any age.

Emotional Intelligence Components-Improve Self-Awareness

Self-awareness to me means being aware of the constant ebb and flow of my thoughts and feelings and quickly being able to put them into words using assertive communication, internally or externally.

Perhaps there are some thoughts that I may have but do not want to express outwardly, and that discrimination is an important skill.

According to Daniel Goleman, "Emotional awareness is knowing what emotions you are feeling and why, and understanding the links between your feelings and your actions (Goleman, 1999).

In other words, its the ability to take a step back from the situation to become aware of what's happening rather than become immersed in it and loose control (Goleman, 1998)."

If I were teaching this skill, I would use biofeedback and mindfullness tools as an integral part of the self-awareness process.

I think biofeedback tools like HeartMath help me understand and experience how fast my mind can take me away from a very relaxing thinking and breathing process, and I see very rapidly how that changes my physiology.

So self-awareness must demonstrate how fast awarenesses shift internally. Learning breathing techniques can demonstrate the very same learning experience.  There is a link to the Heartmath program in the right column. 

Emotional Intelligence Components-Emotional Control

I prefer the term emotional flow, because emotional control can mean that I try to "not" get angry or sad or afraid. However those emotions and the thoughts that brought them are a normal part of the human experience and they need to be acknowledged.

Once acknowledged, or I am aware of them, I can decide about acting on them more easily. Just because I feel afraid does not mean that I need to run.

Change the thought or the breathing pattern to change the feeling. No matter what is happening externally, I can feel comfortable internally.

Emotional Intelligence Components-Self-motivation

To me, this means the process of sustaining hope. I think that this is a cognitive and physical experience, which can be done routinely.

I learned early on in AA, for example, that the attitude of gratitude was an important tool.

I used that only when I needed to, when I was consumed by a pattern of thinking which left me feeling uncomfortable.

It never occurred to me to practice gratitude more frequently, and I am much better at it now than I was 29 years ago.

By more frequently, I want to think gratitude types of thoughts every five minutes for two heartbeats, just because I like the feeling of gratitude.

When I am feeling gratitude, it is easy to tackle the "next right thing to do", which could simply be having another gratitude thought.


Empathy means having a sense of what feelings my conversational partner is experiencing, maybe even feeling a bit of those same feelings.

Empathy is a skill that grows from being able to recognize subtle facial expressions, some of which involve tiny movements of small muscles, which are interpreted subconsciously.

In other words, I experience an emotion without observing an expression or communication seemingly related to the emotion.

The emotion I am having seems to fit in the flow of the conversation though.

Empathy, which is another skill that can be cultivated, requires paying attention both inwardly to my response and outwardly to my partners communication, and it is a critical relationship management tool.

Handling Relationships

Handling relationships to me means that you create an expectation of happiness (a thought) in advance of communication with another person.

That pleasure will show in subtle communications, and certainly in your overt communcations, like a hug.

I think it is very possible to sustain that thought, even when you disagree with the ideas of the other person, so both of you leave the communication respectfully.

If you really want emotional intelligence, so much of which happens in the brain, then you should challenge your brain to be at its peak, using some of the computerized brain fitness programs available online now.

Here are the programs I have tried and recommend.

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Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro - Software that makes you smarter

Would You Share Something That You Are Grateful For?

When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.

Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.