Emotional Intelligence

In a 1994 report on the current state of emotional literacy in the U.S., author Daniel Goleman stated:

“…in navigating our lives, it is our fears and envies, our rages and depressions, our worries and anxieties that steer us day to day. Even the most
academically brilliant among us are vulnerable to being undone by unruly emotions. The price we pay for emotional literacy is in failed marriages and troubled families, in stunted social and work lives, in deteriorating physical health and mental anguish and, as a society, in tragedies such as killings…”

Goleman attests that the best remedy for battling our emotional shortcomings is preventive medicine. In other words, we need to place as much importance on teaching our children the essential skills of Emotional Intelligence as we do on more traditional measures like IQ and GPA.

Exactly what is Emotional Intelligence?? The term encompasses the following five characteristics and abilities:

  1. Self-awareness–knowing your emotions, recognizing feelings as they occur, and discriminating between them
  2. Mood management–handling feelings so they’re relevant to the current situation and you react appropriately
  3. Self-motivation–”gathering up” your feelings and directing yourself towards a goal, despite self-doubt, inertia, and impulsiveness
  4. Empathy–recognizing feelings in others and tuning into their verbal and nonverbal cues
  5. Managing relationships–handling interpersonal interaction, conflict resolution, and negotiations

Why Do We Need Emotional Intelligence?

Research in brain-based learning suggests that emotional health is fundamental to effective learning. According to a report from the National Center for Clinical Infant Programs, the most critical element for a student’s success in school is an understanding of how to learn. (Emotional Intelligence, p. 193.)

The key ingredients for this understanding are:

* Confidence

* Curiosity

* Intentionality

* Self-control

* Relatedness

* Capacity to communicate

* Ability to cooperate

These traits are all aspects of Emotional Intelligence. Basically, a student who learns to learn is much more apt to succeed. Emotional Intelligence has proven a better predictor of future success than traditional methods like the GPA, IQ, and standardized test scores.

Hence, the great interest in Emotional Intelligence on the part of corporations, universities, and schools nationwide. The idea of Emotional Intelligence has inspired research and curriculum development throughout these facilities. Researchers have concluded that people who manage their own feelings well and deal effectively with others are more likely to live content lives. Plus, happy people are more apt to retain information and do so more effectively than dissatisfied people.

Building one’s Emotional Intelligence has a lifelong impact. Many parents and educators, alarmed by increasing levels of conflict in young schoolchildren–from low self-esteem to early drug and alcohol use to depression, are rushing to teach students the skills necessary for Emotional Intelligence. And in corporations, the inclusion of Emotional Intelligence in training programs has helped employees cooperate better and motivate more, thereby increasing productivity and profits.

“Emotional Intelligence is a master aptitude, a capacity that profoundly affects all other abilities, either facilitating or interfering with them.”–Daniel Goleman,

Emotional Intelligence, p. 80.

About the author -


Funderstanding is a resource for teachers, parents, and students to stay up to date on education-related issues. The company focuses on innovative and progressive approaches to inspire learning in classrooms as well as homes.

3 Responses to Emotional Intelligence

  1. Zoe says:

    Dr. Goleman and et al,
    Refreshing information linking the emotional state of persons (children) who are in traditional schools yet living contemporary and rushed lives without a real sense of what to make of their emotions, feelings, and behaviors related to the leaning and relational process amongst themselves and their peers.
    Unfortunately, our society still puts less emphasis on whole brain/ whole person learning, thus continuiing to stunt the learning and relational issues which plague us today in all walks of life/society.

    Keep up the excellent work and research!

    Zoe C.

  2. Norma Terrigno says:

    People who have been in the field of education have suspected for decades that IQ is no true indicator of future success. The main ingredients of personal drive with an inner motivation plus the ability to get along with peers certainly can be pinpointed as the major factors leading to true achievement in the workplace. Coleman’s genius was in delineating this so clearly and eloquently. Now we can all understand the significance/impact of emotional intelligence and begin to inculcate it as early as possible in conjunction with self esteem to make for a happier human being!

  3. Bette Moore says:

    I read Dr. Goleman's wonderful book in 1998 – the same year that I retired from classroom teaching.   Emotional Intelligence  together with Joseph Jawarski's book Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership inspired me to start a consulting business based on creating learning environments that would allow children to practice 21st century leadership skills . . .  in other words:  "EQ" skills.  
    13 years ago I would have found it hard to believe that public education in this country could move even further away from the principles set forth in Emotional Intelligence.   I'm happy to have found Funderstanding and hope that I will be able to connect with like minded educators in this way.
    Bette Moore
    Brookings, Oregon 

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