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Emotional Intelligence

Defining Emotional Intelligence

The idea of an emotional component of intelligence was popularized by the work of Howard Gardner, a Harvard research psychologist.  Gardner proposed a theory of “multiple intelligence” in which the roles of inter-personal and intra-personal abilities are important factors in a person’s overall intelligence.

Expanding on Gardner’s work, and especially the work of Salovey and Mayer (1990) who coined the term, Daniel Goleman explored the emotional pieces of intellect, leading to his landmark book, Emotional Intelligence (1995).  His work has become popular not only in psychology circles but also in the corporate world.  Many workplaces now recognize that cognitive ability alone is not the best or only predictor of job performance; the ability to effectively use emotion is also a mark of a successful worker. 


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Elements of Emotional Intelligence

According to Goleman (Goleman, 1995), emotional intelligence includes the following traits and behaviors:

Goleman and others identified two important elements of emotional intelligence: Recognition and impulse control.

Impulse control is the ability to resist temptations in order to achieve a goal.

Recognition is the key component of emotional intelligence and includes:

Emotional intelligence is as much about knowing how and when to express emotion as it is about recognizing it.  Rather than allowing emotions to take control of behavior and decision-making, emotional intelligence involves thinking about feelings in order to guide behavior.  These skills will be important in your work to support families because you will find yourself in challenging situations that will call for rational thinking before taking action.  You will need to understand the feelings, moods and behaviors of the children and families you work with as they go through a very emotional process. In the next two sections, we describe the biological, social, and cognitive features of emotion.

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