Emotional Intelligence

Dr Thanh-Tam Pham - 01/01/2022

People are often faced with difficult situations which are troubling to different degrees. At first sight, it seems as though logic, rational decision-making and perhaps good common sense will take over, but in reality, decisions aren’t always logical. People a lot of time don’t use rational decision, as instincts, feelings, personal or social values take over and become a major dilemma facing individuals. The conflict between our thinking and our feelings complicate things. Feelings always won over logic thinking when there is struggle between thinking and feeling.

Emotional Intelligence is an assortment of mental abilities and skills that can help you to successfully manage both yourself and the demands of others in the workplace or in the family.

The term Emotional Intelligence is widely known with the publication of Goleman’s book: Emotional Intelligence- Why it can matter more than IQ (1995).

Emotional intelligence describes both interpersonal intelligence that is the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people and intrapersonal intelligence that is the ability to understand oneself, to appreciate one’s feelings, fears and motivations.

Emotional Intelligence includes 4 types of abilities:

         ●   Perceiving emotions: ability to detect and decipher emotions in faces, postures, voices. This is a basic skill as it makes all other processing of emotional information possible. Mindfulness will help you to be aware and understand yourself and empathy enables you to put yourself in others’ shoes to understand others.

         ●   Using emotions: the ability to harness emotions to facilitate various cognitive activities such as thinking and problem solving.

         ●   Understanding emotions: to appreciate complicated relationships among emotions, to be sensitive to slight variations between emotions and evolution of emotions over time.

         ●   Managing emotions: the ability to regulate emotions in both yourself and in others. Therefore, the emotionally intelligent person can harness emotions, even negative ones, and manage them to achieve intended goals.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage the impact of emotions on your relationship with others. It involves recognizing accurately how you and others feel at any particular time and the way emotions are affecting the situation. It involves keeping feelings sufficiently in control so that you can act effectively by expressing your emotions in a constructive way which is the cornerstone of staying in control.

Specific benefits of emotional intelligence:

         ●   Overcome difficult situations

         ●   Express yourself clearly but warmly

         ●   Build better relationships

         ●   Keep your emotions under control

         ●   Communicate mutual respect

         ●   Say the appropriate things at the appropriate times

         ●   Value and obtain commitment from others

         ●   Become resilient in difficult times

         ●   Have clear values and share them with others

         ●   Increase your own wellbeing and manage your stress

If you think that you cannot change yourself and your approach to life, you have to believe that your brain has enough “plasticity” to change. Your life so far has spent building up behavioural templates which are stored in your brain to react automatically to situations. These are pathways between brain cells that are wired as feelings and thoughts patterns are repeated over time. One of the new discoveries in neuroscience is that every time new knowledge is acquired, the connections communicate differently and through repetitions, become faster, more efficient and instinctive. The good news is that we are able to change. Unlearning old behaviour and forming new emotional intelligent templates happen all the time if you have the motivation to do so. Having a clear set of values or beliefs are also prerequisites for confidence and success in life.

Emotions have a multi-faceted impact on everything we think or do. You may think that every decision you make is driven by rational analysis of evidence, use of logic and analysis of data but it isn’t so. Most decisions also involve personal and social values, the lessons of your past experiences, the impact of your decision that may have on others. If there are conflicts between thinking and feeling, emotions usually take over as your capacity to rationalize emotional decision as logic is proof of the power of emotions and the pervasive influence emotions have on your thinking and behaviour. You need to be aware that when you are faced with dilemmas, emotions can skew your thinking and stress may result.

Emotional Intelligence allows your thinking processes to be informed and enriched by your emotions and beliefs while preserving your ability to see what is happening accurately and without bias. You have to question the mental model that are being applied before you can make the right decision and move towards your goal.

Understanding others is very important as the habit and culture may push people towards self interest and selfishness. You need to switch your attention away from yourself and have effective listening skills to get information about emotional cues, show empathy, analyze why people behave the way they do and especially show that you are responding to their needs and concerns.

Empathy is about the other person’s perspective and feeling. Most emotionally intelligent people draw on empathy as a tool for building relationship and understanding problems. It is based on listening, communication and knowing how to respond to others by reading nonverbal communication.

Nonverbal communication is a natural, unconscious body language that broadcast your true feelings and intentions on any given moment. When you interact with others, you continuously give and receive wordless signals such as facial expressions, gestures, posture, eye contact, tone of voice…They are strong messages even you stop speaking and be silent. The way you listen, look, move and react tells the other person whether or not you care, you are truthful and how well you are listening. When your nonverbal signals match up with the words you are saying, they increase trust, clarity and rapport. When they don’t, they generate tension, mistrust and confusion. What you say and what you communicate through body language are 2 different things. When faced with mixed signals, the listener has to choose whether to believe the verbal or the nonverbal message, and in most cases, people believe in the nonverbal ones as it is difficult to control them.

Highly charged emotional problems are difficult to manage and are characterized by:

         ●   Low level of logic and highly emotional perspective

         ●   Little knowledge of reality and unrealistic expectations

         ●   Deeper problems than when seen at first sight

         ●   Previous bad experiences gearing towards confrontations and emotional instability

         ●   Anxiety, frustration, anger, stress.

Have a vision for your life:

You need to have a vision or sense of purpose that can motivate and help you to achieve what you consider to be important. It is likely about the values you hold but it also needs to be practical. Most importantly, develop a plan, set out a strategy to get there and keep to your plan. You have to work hard enough to get results and results will keep your motivation alive and strong. You have to practice mindfulness and give your feeling a name when you become conscious of them. In that way you can control your feelings and emotions and generate positive steps toward emotional intelligence.


Willpower is demonstrated through the ability to resist short term temptations in order to meet long term goals. It is somewhat a delayed gratification.

Willpower is often characterized by using critical thinking and logical analysis rather than behaviour driven by “hot” emotional reactions.

Some studies have shown that by envisioning failure, that is what are the results when you are not following your goals, will give the individuals more willpower to follow the plan.