Emotional intelligence, otherwise known as EQ, helps us better understand what motivates others. It also helps us work more cooperatively with others.
The more skillful you are at discerning the feelings behind others’ signals the better you will be able to control the signals you send back to them. As a result, you will be more successful in life.
The good news is, that emotional intelligence is something you can improve upon.
Before you read on, we thought you might like to download our three Emotional Intelligence Exercises for free. These science-based exercises will not only enhance your ability to understand and work with your emotions but will also give you the tools to foster the emotional intelligence of your clients, students, or employees.
In order to be successful in life, it’s important to develop the skills of emotional intelligence so that you can better understand and negotiate with people better.
According to the book written by Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can Matter More than IQ, the concept of emotional intelligence could even be more important than IQ when it comes to success.
Emotional Intelligence Frameworks: What Are They?
Emotional intelligence is a widely discussed topic in psychology and it has received extensive media attention over the past two decades (Matthews, Roberts, & Zeidner, 2002).
Emotional intelligence is a set of skills that are thought to contribute to the appraisal of emotions in oneself and others. It can also help contribute to the effective regulation of emotions as well as feelings (Salovey & Mayer, 1990).
In comparison to emotional intelligence, the idea of an IQ tends to be more focused on solving problems. This is a much more clear-cut way of looking at things when compared to something like EQ.
However, as we know, there are many other factors involved when it comes to predicting success.
The publication of Goleman’s emotional intelligence book in 1995 signified the beginning of a new trend. As a result, this concept became much more widely recognized.
While not everyone agrees with the idea of Goleman’s model of emotional intelligence, there is general agreement that it does exist, and that it is a factor that comes into play in terms of professional and personal success.
Goleman’s prototype describes Emotional Intelligence or EQ in terms of five realms that are split among four sections. Two of these realms are related to personal competencies while others are related to social competencies.
Five Domains of Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman’s model of emotional intelligence includes five realms.
Know your emotions.
Manage your emotions.
Recognize and understand other people’s emotions.
Manage relationships (others’ emotions)
These five realms are broken down into four quadrants:
The idea of emotional intelligence is widely recognized as a positive trend, because it is something that can be improved and developed.
While everyone may not accept this, research suggests that emotional intelligence is something that one can improve upon over time.
Personal competence is comprised of self-awareness and self-management.
Self-awareness has to do with self-confidence, awareness of your emotional state, recognizing how your behavior impacts others and paying attention to how others influence your emotional state.
Self-management is about keeping disruptive emotions and impulses in check, acting in congruence with your values, handling change flexibly, and pursuing goals and opportunities despite obstacles and setbacks.
Social competence is comprised of social awareness and relationship management.
Social awareness competencies include things like picking up on the moods of others, caring about what others are going through and really hearing what someone else is saying.
Relationship management competencies involve getting along well with others, handling conflict, clearly expressing ideas and using sensitivity to manage others’ feelings.
In terms of emotional intelligence, self-awareness and self-management have to do with our ability to relate to ourselves.
Social awareness and relationship management have to do with our ability to relate to others.
“If you understand your own feelings you get a really great handle on how you’re going to interact and perform with others…So one of the first starting points is, ‘what’s going on inside of me?’”
Chuck Wolfe President, C.J. Wolfe Associates, LLC
Self-awareness involves being able to read your own emotions and recognize their impact. It also involves knowing your strengths and limits and having a sense of self-confidence.
It’s about having the ability to both recognize and better understand moods and emotions and about understanding what drives those moods and emotions and how that affects others.
In order to practice this skill, you must develop an awareness of your own emotional states.
Self-management competencies involve having a sense of achievement, displaying honesty, integrity and, trustworthiness and being able to keep disruptive emotions under control.
It also involves having a sense of optimism, being adaptable and flexible and recognizing and seizing opportunities as they arrive. Those who practice this competency accept responsibility and learn to choose their own emotional response.
Self-management also involves learning to re-frame stressful situations into situations that are simply challenging. Tuning into those emotional triggers can help you better manage your emotions as well.
Social awareness competencies involve being able to sense other people’s emotions, understanding their unique perspectives and learning to take an active interest in things they are concerned about.
It also involves having a sense of organizational awareness and a sense of service.
Relationship management involves having a sense of teamwork and collaboration, being an inspirational leader and learning how to resolve disagreements.
Those who are well versed in this competency know how to guide and motivate others, and use a wide range of tactics for persuasion.
Relationship management also involves being able to initiate and lead people in a new direction and learning how to bolster other’s abilities through feedback and guidance.
The model provides a guide for establishing a process of development while retaining a sense of freedom for the trainer to bring his or her own talents and methods to the learning experience.
The repetitive nature of this model explores the sometimes-chaotic nature of self-awareness development (Gill et al., 2015).
8 EQ Competencies
Another model of emotional intelligence, developed by Freedman and Fariselli (2016), is also a good model. This model provides a set of unique measures that can help one develop their emotional intelligence (Freedman, Ghini, & Jensen, 2004).
The tools in this model are utilized for a wide range of coaching, training, hiring and developmental needs, and they are focused on eight key EQ skills for leadership and life.
The model includes eight EQ competencies divided into three major realms or “pursuits” (Freedman, 2015).
These pursuits are:
Know Yourself: Be more aware of emotions and reactions.
Choose Yourself: Be more intentional in responding.
Give Yourself: Be more purposeful as you move forward.
In addition to the EQ scales, the assessment also includes a questionnaire on key performance outcomes.
These success factors include four-component scales:
Effectiveness: The capacity to generate results (includes Influence and Decision-Making).
Relationships: The capacity to build and maintain networks (includes Network and Community).
Wellbeing: The capacity to function optimally and preserve energy (Balance and Health).
Quality of Life: The capacity to maintain a healthy balance and be fulfilled (Achievement and Satisfaction).
These four scales are combined into one overall “Success” variable (Freedman & Fariselli, 2016).
Strategies to become more emotional intelligent - WOBI
2 Emotional Intelligence Graphs
Numerous studies have shown that emotional intelligence scores are a good predictor of performance when it comes to critical life success factors.
The graph below shows the results from one study, which examined over 75,000 individuals, primarily managers, and employees, from over 15 workplace sectors and 126 countries.
As shown in the graph below, there is an extremely strong positive correlation amongst emotional intelligence scores and overall performance and success scores.
Each dot on this scatter chart below represents one individual’s EQ score and their overall success score (Freedman & Fariselli, 2016).
A regression model was also created to show the emotional intelligence competencies that had the highest scores of success.
As you can see from the chart below, seeing possibilities (exercise optimism) and maintaining that sense of internal drive (engage intrinsic motivation) are at the top of the list.
Both of these ideals are in the “Choose Yourself” part of the model, which focuses on taking responsibility for personal action.
What is an Emotional Intelligence Matrix?
The emotional intelligence matrix, based upon the tenets of emotional intelligence, examines the idea of nature versus nurture as well as strengths and weaknesses (Service & Fekula, 2008).
The basic premise behind emotional intelligence is all about building awareness and building a capacity to work well with others. Being aware of our own emotions and using them consciously can help us be more aware of others’ emotions. As a result, we will learn how to manage ourselves much more effectively in relationships.
Learning in Action Emotional Intelligence Matrix
Learning in Action Technologies (2002) provides a wonderful Emotional Intelligence Matrix. This matrix outlines capacities, competencies, skills, and workplace behaviors.
The emotional intelligence matrix provides a map for better understanding the relationship between capacities, competencies, and workplace skills.
Understanding these subtle differences their relationships and their hierarchy of development is very helpful when it comes to interpreting behavior and targeting organizational or educational initiatives.
On a historic level, leadership and organizational development have typically focused on skill development, which is perfectly appropriate for the technical learning environment. However, a more robust model is called for when it comes to other organizational initiatives that impact people and how they work together to get the job done.
According to the research, these types of initiatives should be focused on things like capacities, competencies, and the resulting workplace behaviors (Learning in Action Technologies, 2002).
Without attention to strengthening these core capacities and finding a way to work them into daily work life, the long-term potential for organizational change might be greatly diminished.
According to the matrix, the capacities are broken down into:
Competencies are broken down into:
Building team bonds.
The matrix can be viewed here at its original source.
So why are these skills so important in the workplace?
In jobs that require a mid range of complexity like a mechanic or a sales clerk, top performers in the field are 12 times more productive than those performers at the bottom. Moreover, they are 85% more effective than the average worker.
In the most complex jobs, such as an account manager or an insurance salesperson, the top performer is 127% more productive than an average performer (Learning in Action Technologies, 2002)
Research done among two hundred different companies and organizations infer that 1/3 of this difference may be due to technical skills and cognitive abilities. The other 2/3 may then be the result of emotional competence.
For those in leadership roles, over 4/5 of the difference is actually due to emotional competence.
According to Ratey (2002):
“The brain is a social brain, the neurons making connections with their neighbors or dying for lack of contact.”
Ratey explains that a baby comes into the world with a maximum open-loop brain without limbic regulation. Without limbic regulation, the vital systems and rhythms would collapse and die.
As a result, children must learn to self-soothe and self-regulate.
According to Lewis, Amini, and Lannon (2001), emotions are at the very root of everything we do with the limbic brain at the center of this advanced emotionality.
This open-loop design means that our emotions and moods are contagious. Emotions often leap between two individual brains, workgroups, or large gatherings of people.
This open-loop design can help teams work together. However, it can also perpetuate or spread violence.
Lewis and colleagues (2001) also talks about how emotional intelligence develops out of the relationship between an infant and their caregiver.
These early relationships and patterns shape a child’s understanding as well as his or her definition of the self and others. In adulthood, we continue to require a source of stabilization outside of ourselves. Looking at the open-loop design, this indicates that we cannot be stable on our own.
The Four Fundamental Relational Components
According to the literature, there are four fundamental relational components or strategies we can implement throughout our lives.
Creating or Co-creating.
Acknowledgment of the self and others with recognition of the self as separate from the others is the first component. This includes honoring each individual’s right to have his or her own experience. This acknowledgment first of oneself and then of the other is the foundation for self-reflection and differentiation.
Mirroring is the next component. Mirroring expands and deepens this acknowledgment of the other’s experience. Recent research has indicated that mirroring is perhaps the most powerful form of empathy. As you observe how other people act and behave you will internally feel what they feel.
Modulation is the 3rd component. Self-soothing behavior originates from the caregiver in childhood. Once we learn to modulate our own experiences we can then help modulate others.
This type of learning helps the brain to develop.
Creating or Co-creating is the final component. As children, our caregivers provide an alternative activity to help us move forward as we explore and learn. As adults, we can arrive at the same place by using our own internal voice.
According to Fonagy (2000), organizations made up of people cannot effectively co-create without first attending to these first steps in the process.
This foundation is laid down in the first four years of life. With intention and focus and participation in positive relationships, the brain’s plasticity continues this emotional development throughout our lives.
As we examine the core components once again, as it pertains to emotional intelligence, we begin to see the pros of cons.
The Core Capacities of Emotional Intelligence: Self-Reflection, Self-Soothing & Empathy.
Self-reflection is that ability you have to identify with various thoughts and sensations. It also has to do with your ability to connect with both pleasure and discomfort.
The ability to observe yourself and reflect helps you make conscious choices. As you acknowledge your personal power you realize you have a choice in your actions.
If this self-reflection is lacking we may:
Have difficulty learning from experiences.
Commonly make victim-based statements.
Display reactionary behavior.
Have difficulty understanding that we choose our response in any given situation.
Have limited ability to self-correct.
Have difficulty reflecting on how we co-created the outcome.
Have difficulty solving problems.
If self-reflection is highly developed we can adjust our behaviors and continually re-assess and observe.
When self-soothing is lacking we may:
Not hear or accept information that is negative.
Deny things are true or blame others.
Get upset in ways that cause us to feel undervalues or dismissed.
If self-soothing is highly developed we are better able to manage ourselves if someone is blaming us or attacking us. We are also able to welcome news without censorship, which helps us recognize and categorize disturbing information.
Self-soothing also helps us enjoy positive support from others.
If empathy is lacking we may:
Not listen or become isolated and out of touch.
Not feel honored or acknowledged.
Believe we don’t count.
When empathy is abundant and highly developed we tend to understand people more, listen more and are better able to understand and appreciate someone’s differences.
Daily Practices for Self Reflection
According to Learning in Action Technologies (2002), there are 8 key things you can do in terms of daily practices to help in self-reflection:
Notice your judgments about yourself and your judgments about others.
Practice noticing and naming your experiences.
Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.
Recognize that other people are simply mirrors of yourself.
Practice awareness by noticing the stories you create and your interpretation of them.
Practice unbundling your feelings.
Notice the degree with which your emotions, thoughts and wants are positive or negative.
You can practice being present by stopping several times a day to notice what you are thinking or feeling. You can also try noticing the sights, sounds, and smells of your environment as well.
Noticing your judgments is all about realizing that everyone is different. Make it a point to suspend your judgments and simply appreciate the life within you and around you.
Noticing and naming your experiences is another good technique. When you strive to name an emotion you can better understand the full array of feelings that are present.
Everyone is your mirror, and often times the feelings and experiences we have are contagious. In terms of self-reflection, it pays to be aware of what feelings you are giving off at any moment.
The next tip is all about the stories we tell ourselves. These are unique for us. How we react in any given situation is based on our life experiences up to that moment in time.
Unbundling your feelings is another good tip. This involves stopping and paying attention to what might be going on. When we have intense feelings like anger or jealousy, we tend to bundle them together.
It’s easy to get caught up in the victim mentality. The victim mentality tends to be more negative. The first step you can take to get out of this mode is to pay attention to how many times a day you frame your experiences as positive or negative.
Simply being aware of your attitude helps you create a new level of consciousness.
Practices for Building Trust
Solomon and Flores (2001) recommend ten practices for building trust for yourself and others:
Practice inviting feedback from others.
Practice mentoring others.
Notice when you tend to beat yourself up.
Identify people who helped shape your viewpoint and/or trust.
Pay attention to the degree that you trust yourself in important relationships.
Act as if you really count, which you do.
Get to know the people who are really important to you.
Notice your level of trust in important relationships.
Practice delegating to others if you are a leader.
Practice assuming that other people’s intentions are positive.
Getting feedback from others can be intimidating. By practicing getting feedback, you become much more comfortable with the process. Try asking someone directly for feedback and notice how much more comfortable you get each time.
Mentoring others is another great practice for building trust. Mentoring can help improve your self-awareness and your empathy.
If you find yourself beating yourself up more often than not, try asking yourself what situations prompt this feeling? Work to identify the origins so you can start treating yourself with more respect.
Identifying pivotal people who helped shaped your viewpoints can also help you build a sense of trust. You can also pinpoint those who eroded your trust and work to change your viewpoint.
Paying more attention to the degree that you trust yourself in different relationships can also be very helpful. Try making a list of those people that you trust and people who are important to your level of success. Rate the degree that you trust them and identify some key messages that may come about that discount you.
Acting as if you really count is another key factor. When you act as if you count, you face your fears. When you make a habit of feeling the fear and pushing through the fear, you feel empowered.
Getting to know the people who are really important to you is another great way to build a sense of trust. As you do this, try and notice your level of trust in important relationships. As you think about these people act as if you are about to have an important conversation with them, and imagine what you might say.
If you are a leader, it may behoove you to start delegating. Doing so without micromanaging is a good way to build a sense of trust with others.
Last but certainly not least, try assuming that other people’s intentions are positive. If you assume others have a positive intention, your day will flow much better.
Daily Practices to Increase Empathy
Practice acknowledging yourself.
Practice acknowledging others.
Get to know your team members.
Practice tuning in to others.
Learn and practice the essential elements of dialogue.
Practice initiating conversations at times of stress.
Practice listening without interrupting.
Try greeting yourself in the mirror each morning with honor and generosity of spirit. Express some appreciation for who you are and what you have accomplished.
One good way to increase empathy is by practicing acknowledging others by saying good morning and using their name. Look into their eyes and let them know you are interested in what they have to offer.
Getting to know your team members and other key individuals can also help you build empathy. Really make a point to notice people and pay attention to what they might be thinking or feeling.
Tuning into others on a regular basis is important because as you do this, you will be building your empathetic skills.
Being unafraid when it comes to initiating conversations in times of stress can also help boost your empathetic skills. As you do this, really pay attention by listening and learning.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to practice listening without interrupting. You might be surprised at how often you tend to interrupt. Research shows that the average person listens for less than 20 seconds before interrupting.
Listening to others takes practice, but it’s a great sign of respect.
The Emotional Intelligence Wheel
The Relational Model below shows how different patterns of interaction help develop the brain and build emotional intelligence.
Creating opens up synchronized space that fosters learning and expanded internal capacity.
Acknowledgment, both of the self and others, affirms others presence and creates a sense of openness.
Mirroring others emotional experiences lets them know you care and understand.
Modulating and creating resonance with others while maintaining a non-anxious presence, helps lower stress and anxiety and create a sense of openness.
Mind maps were developed by Tony Buzan as a note-taking technique. Mind maps can help you get out of the linear thinking mode and into a radial thinking mode.
Mind maps help you uncover the thoughts, which the brain has about a subject from different viewpoints. Using a mind map, you can you activate both right and left brain thinking as an alternative to logical linear thinking (Erdem, 2017).
Mind maps have many benefits. They can help you:
Have better recall.
Focus better on a subject.
Organize your thoughts.
Mind maps have an important place as a lifelong learning tool when a constructivist approach is used as a base in the learning-teaching process (Erdem, 2017).
Mind maps are a highly effective way to get information in and out of the brain. Mind maps help you think more creatively and think outside the box.
A mind map has an organizational structure that radiates out from a common center. Using words, symbols, and images you can then build out branches from that center.
By using a mind map you can jot down ideas as they pop into your brain. There is no need to create any kind of linear, logical structure.
Akin to brainstorming, mind mapping is a wonderful way to boost the creative process.
The five essential characteristics of mind mapping include:
The main idea, subject or focus, which is displayed in a central image.
The main themes, which radiate out from the central image appearing as branches.
The branches, which are comprised of a key image or keyword, which is drawn or printed on its associated line.
Topics of lesser importance, which are represented as twigs off of relevant branches.
The branches, which form a connected nodal structure.
How to Make a Mind Map
Think of your general main idea and write it down in the center of the page.
Figure out some sub-themes of your main concept and draw branches to them from the center. This might look like a spider web.
Focus on using short phrases or even single words.
Add images to invoke thought or to portray your message better.
Try to think of at least two main points for each sub-theme created and create branches out to those.
In terms of emotional intelligence, we can examine the Goleman Model, as shown below. Daniel Goleman’s model of emotional intelligence includes five realms, which are then broken down into four quadrants:
As seen on the mind map the main branches are broken down even further helping one see all of the different facets of each quadrant.
By examining each of these four quadrants, one can quickly see the skills required to develop each one.
One great way to use a mind map for emotional intelligence would be to list out all of the different facets within each quadrant and how they apply to you, so you can see what areas might still need some improvement.
IG- Emotional Flourishing
Emotional flourishing is attained by being emotionally intelligent.
Emotional intelligence can occur in three contexts and work hand-in-hand, namely self-awareness, self-compassion, and self-care (Fritz, 2017).
Let us illustrate an example:
If you are stressed at work and are asked to finish a time-consuming task before the end of the day, you might get upset and angry.
Because of your self-awareness, you become aware of these emotions and what triggered these feelings. You tell yourself that because you have been working overtime all week, you need to rest (self-compassion). You decide to discuss with your supervisor that you cannot take on this task today, but you would be happy to start on it first thing tomorrow (self-care).
Once we learn to be aware of our emotions and our triggers, we can comfort and validate our emotions, and then effectively navigate these instances in the future to optimize our positive emotions (self-care), leading to emotional flourishing.
Emotional Intelligence Grids
So now that you have explored emotional intelligence and know more about it, how can you start to improve upon it, you might ask?
There are some simple ways to start changing your perspective. Just like willpower, emotional intelligence can be developed and strengthened over time.
The more you work to understand your emotions and how they drive you, the better your personal and professional life will be.
Let’s examine some strategies now that can help you take inspired action toward boosting that emotional intelligence.
The way you define something becomes your understanding of it.
Work to improve your vocabulary of descriptions – for example, if you experience fear, try describing exactly how it feels for you. Do you feel anxious, panicked, nervous or just worried?
Accept yourself exactly as you are.
Be assertive. Practice saying no in a way that is not offensive.
Say what you need to say and say it!
Resist impulses. Try delaying or resisting temptation and act accordingly to control emotions.
Be flexible. Practice transforming your emotions from one state to another. For example, try smiling when delivering disappointing news.
Practice and learn your ability to regulate emotions. Do something at the moment to stop the emotion or change it, or try and relax into it.
Try regulating your emotions. That regulatory capacity helps build your emotional intelligence. When you get angry for example, try rethinking the situation or looking at it differently.
Be aware of other’s emotions.
Recognize the emotions in others and the fact that they are driven by their emotions like robots.
The emotions you identify on others acts like a virus, impacting everyone.
Learn to outsmart this tendency by connecting with and overriding the negative emotion with your own positive feelings.
Don’t believe everything you hear.
Give back to society and be helpful when you can.
Connect with other positive people or social groups to help build your skills. For example, Toastmasters, Ted talk groups or other groups can be helpful.
Form boundaries around your emotions. Learn to recognize your own emotions as separate from other’s emotions.
Recognize that other people’s emotions do not have to be your emotions.
You have the option to not react to every emotion sent your way.
To stay motivated, it’s important to stay focused on strong goals. This gives you a sense of self-confidence and self-efficacy.
Try and maintain a positive attitude, despite other’s negative emotions. Stay in a motivating environment as much as possible.
Self-motivation is a complex subject. It is linked to your level of initiative when it comes to setting goals. When you truly believe you have the skills and abilities necessary to achieve your goals, you expect and get success.
Start with Happiness and Sadness on the top of each list.
Strive to understand each of the emotions you listed and identify how they can be caused.
Notice the specific effect of these emotions and how they make you feel.
A Take-Home Message
Emotional intelligence helps you to be smart about your emotions. It’s not solely about being nice. It’s more about being authentic and honest.
The idea of emotional intelligence helps you become more aware of your feelings and how your feelings impact others.
If the idea of emotional intelligence is more important than IQ, in terms of personal or professional success, it behooves us to continue learning more about it.
In the end, boosting your sense of emotional intelligence can help you read other people’s signals better and react more appropriately to those signals.
Knowing your emotions and having self-awareness – being able to recognize feelings as they happen.
Managing your emotions or handling feelings appropriately.
Motivating yourself or marshaling your emotions in pursuit of a goal.
Recognizing the emotions in others and empathizing.
Handling relationships and having the skill to manage the emotions of others (see this article).
In Goleman’s book “Emotional Intelligence” he talks about managing with heart, which includes engaging in teamwork, maintaining open lines of communication, being cooperative and listening and speaking your mind (Goleman, 1998).
Goleman also talks about the destructive effects of miserable, intimated workers as well as arrogant bosses.
All of this leads to decreased productivity and things like missed deadlines, all of which impact the bottom line.
That is really the heart of the issue when you get down to it. A happy worker is a productive worker.
According to Goleman:
“The rules for work are changing. We’re being judged by a new yardstick: not just by how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other.”
Goleman believes that having the emotional intelligence necessary to facilitate cooperation and collaboration elevates us all toward success.
That is the true benefit of emotional intelligence.
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About the author
Leslie Riopel, MSc., is Professor of Psychology at Northwood University. She writes on a wide range of topics at PositivePsychology.com and does research into mindfulness and meditation. Leslie’s unique blend of experiences in both real estate & psychology has allowed her to focus on fostering healthy workplaces that thrive.