Studies show people with high emotional intelligence have greater success at being leaders, performing well on the job, and maintaining good mental health. Emotional intelligence (EI), sometimes called emotional quotient (EQ), is the ability to identify their own emotions and others and use emotional information to manage their lives to achieve positive results. EI is comprised of four domains: self-awareness, social awareness, and relationship management.

Emotional Intelligence: Do You Have It? Nancy'S Counseling Corner

How do you know how emotionally intelligent you are and what you might need to work on to improve your EI? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you aware of your feelings? Do you recognize how you are feeling? How those around you are feeling? Do you think about your emotional strengths and weaknesses? For example, a friend hates conflict. She knows she hates it and just knowing that helps her understand that she needs to pay special attention to deal with conflict when it arises. She tries to anticipate what might cause conflicts and when it might come up in her relationships. She prepares herself mentally for those eventualities. Because conflicts inevitably arise, and while she would like to avoid them entirely, it’s not always the best option. Sometimes she has to face conflict squarely and directly.
  • Do you try to control your thoughts? It’s not possible to control what emotions come to you at any given time, but you can control your reaction to them. For example, if you’ve had a break-up with a friend, how much you do allow yourself to wallow in sadness or self-pity? How much do you let your mood affect your decision-making? You know how you’d like to live your life, and you don’t let your emotions take over. Instead, you direct your thoughts to be in harmony with your goals and values. You live the life you wish to live.
  • Can you take criticism? Most people are aware enough to know that they should appear sanguine when accepting constructive criticism. But if you’re seething inside and your anger or humiliation—whatever emotion you experience when receiving criticism—gets the better of you, then it’s hard to take advantage of that critical advice. If you truly have EI you use negative feedback as a chance to learn, even when that feedback is hurtful. You keep your emotions under control and use the experience to improve.
  • Are you your authentic self? That is, do you say what you mean, and mean what you say? Are you a principled human being? Can your friends and family count on you to stick to your values? That doesn’t mean that your thinking about your values can’t evolve—it probably will as you grow and experience new things. And as you do grow and change, you continue to adhere to your beliefs as they evolve. When you are authentic, you speak directly. Your actions match your words. You keep your commitments. You’re reliable and trustworthy.

Next week we’ll talk more about additional signs of emotional intelligence.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: