The World of Work Project

Emotional Intelligence: An Introduction

The five domains of emotional intelligence are: recognizing and understanding your own emotions, managing them, managing your own motivation, recognizing emotions in others and effectively managing others’ emotions.

Summary by The World of Work Project

Emotional Intelligence


The idea that conventional intelligence, as measured by IQ, is the only type of intelligence worth focusing on has been disputed for quite some time.

In fact, in 1983, Howard Gardner, the American developmental psychologist, introduced Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (which we’ve yet to write about). He stated that there are seven different ways that humans can be thought of as intelligent.

Among the seven intelligences that Gardener proposed are “intrapersonal” and “interpersonal” intelligence. Intrapersonal intelligence relates to self-awarenes and emotional self-management, and interpersonal intelligence relates to the ability to read emotions in others and respond to them appropriately. These two intelligences were later combined into the phrase “emotional intelligence” and popularized by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book of the same name.

Sometimes people use the phrase “emotional quotient” (EQ) to refer to an individuals level of emotional intelligence, in the same way that they use the phrase “intelligence quotient” (IQ) to refer to more conventional intelligence.

The five domains of emotional intelligence

So, emotional intelligence is all about understanding and managing your own and others’ emotions. In his work, Daniel Goleman breaks this down into the following five domains of emotional intelligence.

1. Knowing your emotions

Recognizing your own emotions is important.

The first domain is all about self awareness. To be good at this domain you must have an understanding of how you feel at different points in time and in different situations and be able to express those feelings. You should also understand your baseline emotions, what triggers new emotions in you, and the mental and physical signs that indicate changes in your emotions.

2. Managing your emotions

The second domain is all about self regulation. To be good at this domain you need to be able to regulate how you behave, regardless of the emotions you are feeling.

You can do this in part by creating strategies to help you return to your emotional baseline when something disrupts it (e.g. counting to 10), and by boosting your core emotional strength and resilience (e.g. through exercise or meditation).

3. Motivating yourself

The third domain is all about managing your own motivation, which is in some ways another form of managing your emotions. Motivation is a key factor of success in the workplace, often more so than core ability.

Staying motivated is a difficult thing to do, especially in difficult times.

Some things you can do to maintain your motivation include pursuing your passions, setting ambitious but achievable goals, celebrating your successes and aiming to adopt a positive outlook.

4. Recognizing others’ emotions

The fourth domain is all about your ability to spot the emotions that others are feeling. This can be thought of as the ability to empathize with others or to “put yourself in their shoes”.

You can improve you ability in this domain by getting to know people, understanding what their “normal” emotional states are like, reflecting on non-verbal communications and keeping being mindful of changes in their behaviors that indicate a change in emotion.

5. Handling relationships

The fifth domain is all about being able to engage well with others, regardless of your respective emotional states.

Through empathizing and understanding the emotions of others it’s possible to understand their emotional wants and needs. Considering and engaging appropriately to these wants and needs is a key aspect of maintaining great relationships.

Emotional Intelligence in the workplace

It’s cheesy, but emotions really matter in the workplace.

Emotional intelligence is hugely important in the workplace. In fact, many people consider emotional intelligence to be more important for success in the workplace than either pure intelligence or underlying technical skills. This is particularly true in office based jobs where working well with others is important to success.

It’s worth noting that emotional intelligence along with other “soft skills” are some of the most sought after capabilities in the world at the moment. This is only expected to increase as AI and robotics leads to the automation of more routine work which requires less interaction with others.

Given how important it is in the world of work, nearly everyone can benefit from spending time developing emotional intelligence.

The World of Work Project View:

Emotional intelligence is hugely important not just in the world of work, but in our personal lives as well. The more emotionally intelligent we are the easier we find it to be content in ourselves, and the more harmonious and productive relationships we can have with others.

Whoever you are, it’s almost certainly worth spending time improving your emotional intelligence.

Sources and further reading

Where possible we always recommend that people read up on the original sources of information and ideas.

In this post we’ve mainly been talking about work from Daniel Goleman’s book “Emotional Intelligence” which builds on considerable earlier work.


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