The Foundation of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is about being more aware of our emotions and what they are trying to tell us. Usually when we think of “intelligence”, we associate it with things like logic, math, and science. According to psychologist Daniel Goleman in his monumental book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, “emotional intelligence” (EQ) is another aspect of intelligence that is often over-looked.

Emotions play a huge role in guiding our choices and decision-making. Emotional intelligence is that emotions are not necessarily the opposite of thinking, but a different way of thinking about different types of problems that exist in our world.

Here are some areas that act as foundation for emotional intelligence:

Know Thyself

The first anchor of emotional intelligence is knowing your own emotions.

Emotions often come in two main parts:

The psychological component – the thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs that underlie most of our emotions, and

The physical component – the bodily sensations that often accompany different emotional states.

The next time you’re feeling a really strong emotion, try stepping back and just observing that emotion as it is. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling? What am I thinking? What physical sensations am I experiencing with this emotion?”

A little honest reflection of your emotions can really help you understand yourself better and how your mind really works.


Understanding your own emotions is half of emotional intelligence, the other half is understanding the emotions of others.

As we improve “self-awareness,” we also improve “other-awareness.” We learn that there is sometimes a difference between our own thoughts and feelings and the thoughts and feelings of others.

Empathy is our ability to see things from another person’s perspective – and to take into account their individual thoughts and feelings about an experience.


Once you are more aware of your emotions, the next step is learning how to respond to them better.

Depending on the situation, there are many different strategies we can use to better regulate our emotions. Some of these strategies include:

  • Channelling an emotion in a new and constructive way, such as through exercising, writing, or painting
  • Avoiding triggers – such as certain people, situations, or environments – that are more likely to bring out a negative emotion
  • Seeking positive experiences to reverse negative thoughts (such as watching a comedy movie when we are feeling down, or listening to motivating music when we are lazy)

Social Skills

Once you understand the emotions of yourself and others, the next question is “How do I respond to other people’s emotions?” This is where social skills come in help.

First, understand that a lot of our emotional world has a social component to it. To build healthy relationships it’s therefore important that we are attuned to other people’s emotions, especially how they respond to our own actions and speech.

If your actions cause negative emotions in other people, then that can hurt a relationship and your ability to connect with others in a meaningful way.

Therefore, it’s important to cultivate positive emotions – like joy, optimism, excitement, and humor – is key toward bonding with others in a strong and lasting way.

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