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Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Meaning, Definition and Testing

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Samyak Lalit
Samyak Lalit | July 11, 2022 (Last update: July 12, 2022)

Samyak Lalit is an author and disability rights activist. He is a polio survivor and the founder of projects like Kavita Kosh, Gadya Kosh, TechWelkin, WeCapable, Dashamlav and Viklangta Dot Com. Website:

The world is no more focused solely on Intelligence Quotient (IQ). It took time but the world has acknowledged the importance of Emotional Intelligence (also referred to as Emotional Quotient or EQ) as well. Be it the role of a manager or a corporate leader; these days EQ is considered equally important as IQ. Let us understand what is emotional intelligence, how is it measured, and the ways to develop our EQ.

Meaning of Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Renowned scientist and psychologist, Dr. Daniel Goleman, was the person who first defined Emotional Intelligence and gave the theory of Emotional Quotient (EQ).

Emotional Intelligence can be defined as a set of skills, competencies, or the capacity to recognize one’s own feelings as well as of others for managing those emotions well in our social interactions. Human emotions can take various forms including love, admiration, anger, anxiety, boredom, fear, horror, surprise, sadness, happiness, etc.

Dr. Goleman has identified a few sets of competencies that define emotional intelligence and create differentiation between an emotionally intelligent person and people who are not emotionally intelligent. The competencies include:

  • Self-Awareness – the capacity to understand one’s emotions, strengths as well as weaknesses.
  • Self-Management – the capacity to manage one’s motive and regulate one’s behavior.
  • Social-Awareness – the capacity to understand what others say and feel and know why they feel and act the way they do.
  • Social Skills – the capacity to act in such a way that one can get others to work as desired.

Emotional Intelligence is measured as an Emotional Quotient that consists of five important dimensions:

Test of Emotional Intelligence

A wide range of assessments has been developed over the years to measure emotional intelligence. These assessments can be broadly categorized in two groups –

  • Self-Report Tests – These are the most common type of assessments as they are easy to administer and score. In these tests, the respondents respond to questions by rating their own behavior. So, here people are the judges of their own behavior. For example, the respondent may be asked “Do you keep calm in a troubling situation?” with the options being ‘always’, ‘often’, ‘sometimes’ and ‘never’.
  • Ability Tests – In the ability tests, respondents are given certain situations and asked about their reactions. The responses are then assessed by a third party. For example, instead of directly asking whether a person keeps calm in a troubling situation, the person would be given an imaginary troubling situation and asked about their response in such a condition.

As discussed above, Ability Tests are administered by a third party. This third party may be a mental health professional. When a mental health professional administers an emotional intelligence test, they typically use one of the following measures –

  • Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) – This ability test measures four branches of emotional intelligence, namely – the ability to perceive, identify, understand and manage emotions. The test is based on  Mayer and Salovey’s EI model.
  • Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI) – This assessment is based on the traditional self-assessment questionnaire method and requires people to know the individual to rate his or her abilities in several emotional competencies.

Traits of an Emotionally Intelligent Person

Though Emotional Quotient (EQ) can be used to measure a person’s emotional intelligence, one can recognize an emotionally intelligent person with their behavior only. Here we are listing a few traits that characterize an emotionally intelligent person.

Thinking before reacting – An emotionally intelligent person always thinks before reacting. They understand that emotions can be powerful yet temporary. So, they never take decisions in the heat of the moment. They keep themselves calm and think rationally before making a decision or reacting to a certain situation.

Having greater self-awareness – Emotionally intelligent people have greater self-awareness. This means they recognize and understand their feelings and know how their emotions can affect their behavior.

Having empathy for others – One of the most important traits of an emotionally intelligent person is their empathetic behavior. Being empathetic means they do not only know what others feel but can feel those emotions by putting themselves in others’ shoes.

Accepting criticism and responsibility – Emotionally intelligent people are those who can accept criticism with grace and can take responsibility for their words and actions. They do not seek to transfer the burden of their action and failure onto the shoulders of others.

Having the ability to say ‘no’ – Emotionally intelligent people are not the people-pleaser. They can say ‘no’. They understand the importance of turning down requests and say yes to only those responsibilities they can do justification with.

Tips on Improving Your Emotional Intelligence

Though everyone is born with different levels of emotional intelligence it is not something that can’t be learned or developed. Here are a few tips that can help you improve your emotional quotient by developing traits of emotional intelligence.

Listen carefully – An emotionally intelligent person listens to and understands the viewpoints and feelings of others. For this, they need to listen to others carefully. If you want to be an emotionally intelligent person you need to cultivate the habit of paying attention to what others say. You need to listen and not just hear.

Put yourself in others’ shoes – To be emotionally intelligent you need to put yourself in the shoes of others. Before judging someone for their thoughts, words, and action you need to put yourself in their place and try to understand why the person thinks, speaks, or acts in the way he or she does.

Learn to reflect – An emotionally intelligent person has the ability to reason with emotions. They understand how their emotions influence their behavior and decisions. And know how to think logically. If you want to be emotionally intelligent learn to reflect.

Learn to say no – Saying ‘no’ is very important. No one can say ‘yes’ to everything and justify it. So, you need to assess and think before saying yes to any commitment. If you can’t fulfill a commitment or if it puts you under stress, you need to say no. Emotionally intelligent person are never a people-pleaser.


Emotional intelligence helps people understand their as well as others’ emotions. It is the key to better personal and professional relationships and strong communication skills. Some experts are of the view that emotional intelligence is a better determinant of a person’s success than their intelligence quotient. And, the best thing is that traits of emotional intelligence can be learned and practiced. So, one should always try to improve their social and emotional intelligence.

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2 responses to “Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Meaning, Definition and Testing”

  1. Avatar Badru, Shamsideen Abayomi says:

    It’s a very interesting and educative piece. I have learnt some new ideas that can be helpful in my professional career and personal life.

  2. Avatar Rev. Masembe Saul says:

    Quite commendable and it has taken me to a higher level of perception.

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