Nature of Emotional Intelligence

The nature of emotional intelligence as envisaged by Goleman can be summarized as;

  • It is the ability to control others’ emotions including groups, an individual and closed one.
  • It is a process of knowing what feels good or bad and how to get from bad to good.
  • It (unlike cognitive intelligence) is liable to developed or damaged as a result of one’s life experiences.
  • It is not fixed genetically, rather it is largely learned and continued to develop throughout life.
  • It develops with increasing age and experience, as a person progresses from childhood to adulthood.
  • Men and women have a personal profile of strength and weaknesses in Emotional intelligence abilities. Women tend to be stronger in competencies based on empathy and social skills whereas men do better in those based on self-regulation.


Emotional Intelligence in action – A real life example

A real life incident of emotional intelligence in action can be understood from the life of James Dozier, a U.S. Army Brigadier General who was kidnapped by the Red Brigades, an Italian terrorist group. He discovered the power of emotional intelligence and saved his life.


The initial days of his captives were euphoric with excitement and were agitated and irrational at times and he felt that his life was in danger. To save himself, he remembered something which he had learned about emotion in an Executive Development Program at the Centre for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina, which enabled him to save his life (Emotions are contagious and a single person can influence the emotional tone of a group by modelling).


He first thought of getting his own emotions under control. He tried to calm himself and conveyed his calmness to his captives through his actions. He then realized that his captors also caught his calmness and became more rational.


In retrospect when Dozier looked back on this episode, he was convinced that his ability to manage his own emotional reactions and those of his captors literally saved his life.