9 Questions to Ask about Emotional Intelligence

Raquel Aldana

Written and verified by the psychologist Raquel Aldana.

Last update: 14 December, 2021

Aristotle said that anyone can get angry. However, getting angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, with the right purpose and in the right way… is really difficult.

This article talks about the concept of emotional intelligence, the complexity of managing our emotions and other concerns that arise when dealing with these issues.

However, do we know what emotional intelligence really is? We want to clarify concepts and make certain reflections about the subject. Let’s look at some.

1. What is emotional intelligence?

Does being emotionally intelligent mean being motivated to do everything, having high self-esteem or excessive optimism? The answer is no. According to some, being emotionally intelligent means possessing a varied repertoire of attributes.

For years we have repeatedly heard the importance of developing our self-esteem, our emotional intelligence, and our self-concept. We know that there are a lot of skills that we have to work towards, but we do not know how to do this or how they are related.

This is due to the fact that when others speak of emotional intelligence, they are referring to a capacity (as Salovey and Mayer have referred to it) or to a set of traits or attributes that we must possess and strive for. Examples of these are personality traits, motivational traits and emotional traits (like Daniel Goleman spoke about).

emotional intelligence

2. What are the implications of considering emotional intelligence to be a set of traits?

Question #1, has the disadvantage of “forcing” the person to be a “totally emotional” being. They don’t differentiate their emotional abilities from empathy, persistence, optimism, motivation…

This perspective allows us to outline the human being in a very global way and yes, everything is related but … Can we say that as we relate to our emotions we are one type of person or another? Do we want others to think that of us? Obviously not, and this is the first thing that leads to confusion.

It is our personality that encompasses broad areas of mental life (such as emotional intelligence), not emotional intelligence that encompasses personality.

If we understand and are critical of this we won´t have a mixture of advice to be more emotionally intelligent without really knowing how to internalize the ideas. What is at stake is integrating it, to make it ours in its entirety in order to achieve a certain emotional stability.

It seems that it is more advisable to understand emotional intelligence from the point of view of Salovey and Mayer, as

…the ability to engage in sophisticated information processing about one’s own and others’ emotions and the ability to use this information as a guide to thinking and behavior. That is, individuals high in emotional intelligence pay attention to, use, understand, and manage emotions, and these skills serve adaptive functions that potentially benefit themselves and others.”

hand grabbing woman

3. Why have we just begun to hear this term in recent years?

Society is “awakening” thanks to the fact that researchers, trainers and the media have placed emphasis on the concept of emotional intelligence. This has allowed it to reach the whole world and a society that is traditionally accustomed to punishing emotions.

In general, we tend to think that our feelings makes us less effective, weaker and less capable when making decisions. We feel abducted by what the term symbolizes because we have become aware that there is no moral superiority of reason in relation to emotions. That division is fictitious, because we cannot separate emotions, thoughts and sensations.

4.What role do our emotions play day to day?

Emotions play an essential role. We cannot conceive our day to day lives without feelings or emotions. From the moment we get up until we go to bed, emotions govern our actions. If we stop to think that dreams are free of emotion we only remember the sensations that those dreams stirred in us.

We feel at the same time as we think and any type of situation generates an emotion. This, undoubtedly, affects what we project in others, the decisions we make, the paths we travel …

blowing heart bubble

5. What mistakes do we make?

We often reject negative emotions precisely because they are painful or uncomfortable. By rejecting, we don’t only mean ignoring, but punishing when others feel them. This happens in a striking way, for example when we see a child’s temper tantrum. We often say things like “don’t cry“, “it’s not so bad“, thus transmitting the message that “strong people don’t cry or break down

6. Are sadness or anger healthy?

Definitely. This is shocking but we have to realize that negative emotions such as sadness and anger are not unreasonable.  Rather they present themselves in us with a purpose.

Not permitting ourselves emotions is not positive for us. Every emotion has something to tell us, and we cannot really hide it. To explain this, here is a very enlightening example: a person allergic to dust would never dream of sweeping the dust under the carpet, believing that it will not affect them.

Not giving importance to our emotions and not checking our inner health does not allow us to escape it. Every emotion is present in our daily lives for a reason and we cannot ignore what they have to say to us.

woman and birds

7. What are the consequences of not understanding our emotions?

Not correctly extracting the information that our emotional system provides means to err in our decisions and considerations. To not know ourselves, to reject, repress and even punish ourselves.

Emotions are always present and the more appropriate our strategies are, the more active and decisive we are. Our general well-being depends on our psychological and physical health.


8. What role do emotions play in the workplace?

The world of work is changing. Not only are we valued for being “smart“, but also academic. Or for our training or experience. We also take into account how we relate to ourselves and others.

How we manage our emotions and those of others depends on our performance. This is what Goleman, the father of emotional intelligence, calls “portable skills“. Being emotionally intelligent predicts success better than what we traditionally understand as “intelligence.” It better determines our flexibility and adaptability to the workplace.

The cost of emotional incompetence is very high for the company, for the worker and for society. If we want life to work we cannot ignore this reality.


9. What outstanding subjects do we have as a society in relation to this?

We still have a lot to learn. Among other things, it is still pending for our children, adolescents and young people to receive a quality emotional education from school. But for there to be a true revolution we must also put ourselves, adults, to relearning about understanding and managing of our emotions. That is why the way we treat our emotions – in places as different as media to the way we see advertisements – is so important.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.