What is emotional intelligence?

So, what is it? It is the reminder that we all do have emotions and are often led to act by them, but if we don’t acknowledge their part in our decision-making, we are likely to be reactive rather than responsive. It used to be called wisdom, or common sense, but, as Robert Cooper says, the trouble with common sense is that it is rarely practised.

When you use your emotional intelligence, you recognise, value and use your emotional reactions constructively. You know that you are in control of your reactions, and consider the consequences before simply acting on them.

For example, we all get frustrated in a traffic jam. Not using your emotional intelligence leads to being driven by your frustration. So you end up stressed at least, and sometimes it can develop into road rage, or causing accidents.

And if you stop for a moment and consider, you realise that the frustration is not constructive, and will not change the situation. Using your emotional intelligence is more likely to lead to putting on some favourite music, thinking about some issue you have to resolve, or just enjoying the countryside you can see.

On the positive side, most of us have ‘had a good idea’ – something that came spontaneously, which we then dismissed as being impractical, irrelevant, or illogical. If we use our emotional intelligence, we often realise then, rather than when it is too late, that the idea is worth following through on.


Take 4 of your ‘instant reactions this week and just stop and ask yourself the following questions before either dismissing them or simply reacting:

1. How does this help me to live my life well?

2. How will this make a positive difference?

3. What will be the effect of this in the future?

As you hear the inner responses to the questions, make sure that you listen to your heart as well as your head – if your heart sings, you are on the right track!

About Di Kamp

Di Kamp is chief executive of Meta and has been involved in the field of developing people and organisations for 35 years. She has worked with a variety of organisations, and specialises in enabling senior managers to guide their organisations from good enough to excellence, and enabling management teams to lead their people in a way that will enhance their performance. Di has written several books, including manuals for trainers, one on staff appraisals, one on workplace counselling, one on improving your excellence as a trainer, one on people skills, and one on being a 21st century manager. She is currently preparing a further book on the secret of sustainable successful organisations.

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