The five domains of emotional intelligence are: recognizing and understanding your own emotions, managing your own emotions, 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. 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. Intra-personal intelligence relates to self-awarenes and emotional self-management. Inter-personal 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

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. You should know 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. You should be able to do this 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 disrupted. An example of a strategy like this is counting to 10. You can also do this by boosting your core emotional strength and resilience (e.g. through exercise or meditation).

3. Motivating Yourself

The third domain of emotional intelligence is all about managing your own motivation. This is really just another form of managing your emotions. Motivation is a key factor of success in the workplace, often more so than core ability.

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 World of Work

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.

Learning More

Given how important it is in the world of work, nearly everyone can benefit from spending time developing emotional intelligence. Learning about Metamood, Metacognition and other factors can also really help inform our self-awareness and improve our wellbeing and our working and life experiences.

Of course, these factors affect others as well, not just us. They can affect the psychological safety of our teams and the prevalence of social threats.

In addition, we have many podcasts covering topics that you might find helpful. 

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.

That said, we know that there are people who dispute the concept of emotional intelligence. There are also people who dispute that it can be learned. That’s an ok view too. We just find the concept helpful for many people, so recommend it.

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Sources and Feedback

In this post we’ve mainly been talking about work from Daniel Goleman’s book: “Emotional Intelligence”.

We’re a small organization who know we make mistakes and want to improve them. Please contact us with any feedback you have on this post. We’ll usually reply within 72 hours.