By Clare Gurton ([email protected])

When the Harvard Business Review published an article on emotional intelligence several years ago, it attracted a higher percentage of readers than any other article published in that periodical in the last 40 years – and the pace of growth continues. This year The First International Congress on Emotional Intelligence will be held in Spain [19–21 September] and the Sixth World Summit will be held in South Africa [10–12 September].

The increasing recognition of the power of emotional intelligence is global and illustrates its importance in business, where it’s said to help communication, self-direction, problem-solving, learning, creativity, and decision-making.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand and appropriately use feelings. The term encompasses:

  • Self-awareness – knowing your emotions, recognising feelings as they occur, and discriminating among them
  • Mood management – handling feelings so that they’re relevant to your current situation and you react appropriately
  • Self-motivation – “gathering up” your feelings and directing yourself towards a goal, despite self-doubt, inertia, or impulsiveness
  • Empathy – recognising feelings in others and tuning in to their verbal and nonverbal cues
  • Managing relationships – handling interpersonal interaction, conflict resolution, and negotiations

Emotional Intelligence has proven a better predictor of future success than traditional methods like the GPA, IQ, and standardised test scores. There now is a considerable body of research suggesting that an individual’s ability to perceive, identify, and manage emotion provides the basis for the kinds of social and emotional competencies that are important for success in almost any job.

Furthermore, as the pace of change increases and work makes ever greater demands on our cognitive, emotional, and physical resources, this particular set of abilities could become increasingly important. Hence the great interest in emotional Intelligence on the part of corporations, universities, and schools which has inspired research and curriculum development throughout these facilities.

Building one’s own emotional intelligence can have a lifelong impact. In corporations, including emotional intelligence in training programs has helped employees cooperate better and become more motivated, thereby increasing productivity and profits.