Emotional Intelligence: What Is It and Why It’s Important in Daily Life

Posted on October 7, 2021 by Marsha Molinari, MSW, LICSW

Updated April 17, 2023

Two woman talking in an office_smallWith the changing dynamics of today’s workplace, such as remote working, age, gender, social and racial differences, having Emotional Intelligence is more important than ever.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

The term Emotional Intelligence was first introduced in 1990 by Psychologist Peter Salovey and John Mayer. The simple definition is the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as to identify with and be empathic towards other’s emotions. It includes the ability to name emotions correctly and to use emotional information to help guide thinking, behavior and the influence one might have on others[1].

Thinking of this definition, it’s easy to see how important Emotional Intelligence can be in our daily lives. Emotional Intelligence is what helps us facilitate deep conversations with othersenhance relationships and help deal and relate with children. This is extremely important today, when the world is experiencing so much trauma, grief and deep divides. An emotionally intelligent person is able to stay in the moment when dealing with emotion as opposed to focusing on the past or towards the future.

How important is emotional intelligence?

Many experts believe Emotional Intelligence may be more important than IQ and can be a better predictor of success, quality relationships and overall happiness[2]. According to Scudetti[3], Emotional Intelligence is responsible for 58% of a person’s job responsibilities and 90% of top performers and people with higher annual income have a high Emotional Intelligence. It is the “gateway to a balanced life” and is essential for our physical and emotional well being, healthy relationships, conflict resolution and contributes to a person’s success.

5 Components of Emotional Intelligence-1

For Leaders

Emotional Intelligence is an important trait to have if you are in any type of leadership role. The higher the E.I., the better the leader is able to motivate others and relate in a more positive manner than those who don’t have a high Emotional Intelligence. By recognizing and meeting the needs of others, an emotionally intelligent leader encourages a higher performance and workplace satisfaction[4].

Can emotional intelligence be developed?

The simple answer is yes. While IQ is something we tend to be born with, Emotional Intelligence is something that can be improved. Although it starts in childhood with how we are raised and as adults there are steps you can take to become emotionally smarter. According to Justin Bariso[5], there are seven ways to improve Emotional Intelligence.

  • Reflect on your emotions. The more aware you are of your emotions and reactions, the more in control you can be.
  • Ask for perspective. Get input from others to understand how you come across.
  • Observe. Pay attention to your emotions and how you are coming across.
  • Pause. Stop and think before you act and speak.
  • Become more empathetic by understanding the “why” behind a person’s feelings or emotions.
  • Choose to learn from criticism. It is inevitable. When you choose to learn from it rather than become defensive, you can grow.
  • Practice, practice, practice! It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen with effort, patience and practice.

It is never too late to learn anything. It may be a lifelong process, but if the payoff is to become a better employee, leader, spouse or friend, and an all-around better person, then it’s worth it!

We Can Help

As part of your VITAL WorkLife Employee Assistance Program, you can work with a counselor to develop your E.I. skills and knowledge. Your Member Site also has resources to help you develop your Emotional Intelligence. Contact us at 800.383.1908 or through the VITAL WorkLife App to get started!

[1] Ackerman, C., What is Emotional Intelligence? Nov. 14, 2019.

[2] Scudetti, R., What is Emotional Intelligence and Why It is Important. Sept. 11, 2018.

[3] Scudetti, R., What is Emotional Intelligence and Why It is Important. Sept. 11, 2018.

[4] Scudetti, R., What is Emotional Intelligence and Why It is Important. Sept. 11, 2018.

[5] Bariso, J., EQ, Applied: A Real-World Approach to Emotional Intelligence. May 17, 2018.
Emotional Intelligence in Leadership, Mind Tools

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