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Did you know that you can be highly intelligent and yet still mess up your life? OK, so maybe ‘mess up’ is a bit strong, but my point is that how intelligent you are is not necessarily connected with how well you manage your life nor your success and happiness.

This was revealed a few years ago when Daniel Goleman published his bestseller, Emotional Intelligence, why it can matter more than IQ.

The idea is that we have two separate minds, one logical and rational and one emotional. The first kind relates to IQ, the traditional way we think of intelligence, but which misses out a huge part of what makes us tick.

This explains why some highly intelligent people don’t handle themselves very well. They are not good in social relationships, for example, or they have difficulty communicating without upsetting people. Success and happiness elude them.

What happens when you improve your EQ

The key skills of EQ are self-awareness, a sense of optimism, the ability to read your emotions and those of others, and a capacity for managing your emotions. If you do a little work to develop your Emotional Intelligence you’ll find that you can:

  • Recognise and manage your feelings (especially negative ones).
  • Respond rather than react to those around you (think before you speak).
  • Practice empathy and compassion (recognise what others are feeling).
  • Choose to think optimistically (even natural pessimists can do this).
  • Manage stress and bounce back (which helps you recover from adversity).

Most people can do some of these things to some extent, and some of us manage all of them. But it takes work to develop EQ so that you glide through life successfully, building positive relationships (and sorting out the bad ones) as you go.

How to raise your game

Reading books is one way to do this, but now we have the internet, a much simpler route is an online course. The one I have developed uses a series of concise video lectures coupled with some do-it-yourself exercises to help you understand where your strengths lie, and the parts of you that you could usefully develop. Success and happiness are never guaranteed, but it’s certainly worth aiming for!

Go to my online course on Emotional Intelligence

See also

Questions about resilience.

Empathy means ‘I know nothing’.

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