There are many different ways to define emotional intelligence. In general,
it refers to a person's ability to manage their emotions and work with the
emotions of the people around them. Emotional intelligence is important
when we plan our careers and build relationships with others.
Glenn Geher did some of the first research in the field of emotional intelligence.
He earned his PhD in psychology at the University of New Hampshire in 1997.
Geher's advisor was Jack Mayer who, along with Peter Salovey of Yale University,
came up with the theory of emotional intelligence.
Geher is now an associate professor of psychology and director of evolutionary
studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz. He explains the
concept of emotional intelligence: "Emotional intelligence has to do with
how our thoughts relate to our emotions. Some people are better at thinking
about emotions than others. For instance, someone with high emotional intelligence
may be able to tell if a friend is really stressed out. That ability to
read someone else's emotions is an important part of emotional intelligence.
"EI relates to several psychological abilities -- such as the ability to
know how others are feeling, the ability to modify your own mood, and the
ability to manipulate the moods of others (such as making someone who's
sad feel happy)."
Emotional intelligence can be an important factor in anyone's career success.
However, many schools tend to focus on marks. Students who don't get straight
As sometimes feel like they aren't as smart. It is important to realize that
although grades on a report card show part of the picture, there's more to
the story than can be recorded by marks on assignments and tests.
It's hard to measure EI. However, we all know people who didn't excel at
school, but who went to the top of their field. Emotional intelligence may
have helped them get ahead.
"EI is famous for showing the world that 'intelligence' is much more than
book-smarts," explains Geher. "There are so many people out there who can
really understand the emotions of others, but who can't understand geometry
or science. These emotionally intelligent people often succeed greatly in
life -- largely because they're so good at making others feel good about themselves.
EI is just as important as 'book-smarts' intelligence in the game of life."
Well-developed emotional intelligence is important in many careers. In
fact, most research suggests that EI predicts career success in any field.
"People high in EI are more likely to end up in leadership positions than
others -- and when they do end up in leadership positions, they often make
others in the work environment happier overall," says Geher. "Some jobs
that really are good for folks with high EI are teachers, salespeople and
doctors. Pretty much, any job where you're working closely with people will
benefit from EI."
Neil Baldwin is a career counselor at a college. He helps people make decisions
"Effective career decision-making has a lot to do with accurate self-perception,"
he explains. "The better you know yourself, the better you can decide on
work that matches who you really are. Or, as I say to the students, career
planning is like using a map -- it's difficult to get somewhere if you don't
know your current location.
"Emotional intelligence helps students get a realistic perspective on who
they are, their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to soft skills. Emotional
intelligence is unique: part personality, part ability. It is something not
measured on other types of vocational assessments, yet it is an important
piece of the puzzle."
Baldwin also uses emotional intelligence to help students build their employability
skills. Those are the skills that employers look for.
"In addition to career planning, EI is also useful to college students
because they can use it to enhance their employability. "Emotional intelligence
attributes, being partly personality and partly abilities, are not fixed.
They are trainable. If someone gets a reading on where they stand in terms
of various EQ [Emotional Quotient] traits, they can set and prioritize goals
for improvement. This will inevitably help them retain work and advance in
"When it comes to career planning, it can be the missing piece in terms
of self-assessment," adds Baldwin. "When it comes to job search, a resume
may get a person into an interview, but it in most cases it is their soft
skills that will win them the job. And when it comes to maintaining a job,
it is usually emotional intelligence factors that can derail a career, sometimes
with lightning speed, so it is worth being clear on one's EI strengths and
The next time you're upset about something, see who comes forward to help
you to feel better, and you may see someone with high emotional intelligence.
Or if you're the one who always has an idea of how other people are feeling,
congratulations! Be aware of your strengths in this area and use them in
your search for a rewarding career and in your search for happy and healthy