Emotional Intelligence: What it is and How to Increase Your Own

April 12, 2017 Richard Justenhoven
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Emotional Intelligence: Ability or Personality?

Since the publication of Daniel Goleman’s book in 1995 – “Emotional Intelligence, why it can matter more than IQ” – the term of Emotional Intelligence has become a topic straddling the worlds of business and psychology and has become part of the layperson’s language. The original definition by Salovey and Mayer describes Emotional Intelligence as the “ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.”

But is Emotional Intelligence really an ability, or should it rather be seen as a personality trait? And what is its impact on HR processes?

Many scientists have come up with their own interpretation and measures of Emotional Intelligence. The majority see Emotional Intelligence not as an ability but as a personality trait that should be measured through self-description or rating-systems. Literature shows (O’Boyle et al., 2011) that no matter how you choose to measure Emotional Intelligence, it can bring immense additional value to recruitment and development processes.

But its value extends beyond supplementing talent decision-making. Emotional Intelligence can have several positive impacts on individuals’ daily life. Not only does it help you to better understand the people around you, but it also helps you to understand your own emotional state in order to regulate your emotions and have a better life. Emotional Intelligence is also an important skill to be a good leader. Emotional intelligent leaders are better in motivating their team and leading negotiations.

Do you want to increase your Emotional Intelligence?

Here is one simple exercise everyone can do on a daily basis:

  • Set an alarm for every two hours or remind yourself whenever you look at your watch to monitor your own emotions and feelings.
  • Try to be as objective as possible and do not judge your feelings.
  • What do you feel right now? Why do you feel so? Why are you upset or angry? Why are you happy? What can you do with these emotions in order to improve your performance or wellbeing?
  • Even if your emotions might be really weak, try to figure out how you feel and write it down. This will develop your skill to recognize and work with your own emotions.

Be mindful of your emotions and use them instead of being driven by them! Also, practise meditation and mindfulness as these are helpful in understanding and controlling your emotions.


O’Boyle, E. H., Humphrey, R. H., Pollack, J. M., Hawver, T. H., & Story, P. A. (2011). The relation between emotional intelligence and job performance: A meta‐analysis. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 32(5), 788-818.

About the Author

Richard Justenhoven

Richard Justenhoven is the product development director within Aon's Assessment Solutions. A leading organizational psychologist, Richard is an acknowledged expert in the design, implementation and evaluation of online assessments and a sought after speaker about such topics.

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