What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence EQ Emotional Quotient IQ Intelligence Quotient success life work

Emotional Intelligence is being able to consciously work with and harness the power of your underlying feelings. Research shows that EQ (Emotional Quotient) – not your IQ (Intelligence Quotient) – can account for up to 80% of your likely success in life and work.

But emotions and feelings underpin every aspect of your life. Most of us assume that every action starts with a thought. But every thought is rooted in a feeling that drives and motivates. So if you can consciously change the feeling, you can postively change the thought – and the resulting action.

Many companies now rank Emotional Intelligence as an essential skill.

For example, 71% of 2,600 managers and HR professionals stated they valued EQ over IQ in an employee. 75% said they were more likely to promote a highly emotionally intelligent worker. (1). Over 75% of the Fortune 500 companies now use Emotional Intelligence training..

More schools are also using Emotional Intelligence to develop student empathy, self-awareness and active listening. This also enables children from an early age to manage and self-regulate their emotions. These skills are not only essential within effective teaching and learning, but also support both student and staff mental health and wellbeing.

Soft skills? Perhaps. But Emotional Intelligence is consistently proving to deliver hard results. Let’s take a closer look…


What is Emotional Intelligence?

Salovey and Meyer first defined Emotional Intelligence (EI) in 1990 as:

“The collection of abilities used to identify, understand, control and assess the emotions of the self and others.”

Daniel Goleman (1998) took this further by refining these abilities into five key skills:

1: Self-awareness: Don’t just recognise and understand your wide-ranging emotions, but also be aware of the impact of your moods, emotions and resulting actions on other people.

2: Self-Regulation: Not hiding how you feel, but being able to recognise the most appropriate time and way to speak and act. In doing so, you can recognise and control impulsive behaviour whilst also being flexible and open to adaptation and change.

3: Social Skills: – such as listening, various forms of communication, persuasiveness – all vital in enabling you to effectively build personal and professional relationships through understanding both your own emotions and other’s feelings.

4: Empathy: Understanding others’ feelings is vital, but it’s how you respond that is just as important – particularly in scenarios such as teambuilding for example. Here an ability to focus and harness your colleague’s strategic motivations and goals is essential.

5: Intrinsic Motivation: – where you look to fulfill your own inner needs, goals and passion – as opposed to external rewards such as money or wider recognition. In doing so, you are likely to be very committed and pro-active whilst always looking at ways to do better.

So, according to Daniel Goleman, what having Emotional Intelligence looks like is:

“that you’re confident, good at working towards your goals, adaptable and flexible. You recover quickly from stress and you’re resilient.”

But how does Emotional Intelligence make a positive difference in the workplace..?


Workplace Emotional Intelligence in Action

Emotionally intelligent people are able to:

  • Keep cool and handle pressure
  • Recognise and regulate their own reactions to people or situations
  • Be empathetic – to understand, manage and co-operate with other people
  • Be more open and less defensive to honest feedback – enabling improvement
  • Say the “right” thing to get the right result
  • Be good listeners – putting their own emotions aside to account for others
  • Motivate themselves
  • Stay positive in the face of challenging situations


Likewise, low emotionally intelligent behaviour can also have a considerable negative impact – such as:

  • Blaming others
  • A leadership that becomes detached through not listening and singularly pursuing their vision
  • Aggressive or passive communication
  • Ignoring constructive feedback
  • Ignoring or supressing opinion


Emotional Intelligence: Why it matters in Schools

Emotional Intelligence Schools emotional mental and physical wellbeingAs Laura Huxley observed:

“The needs of the young are no different from today than they were two or three generations ago, yet what a different world children find today…”

Never before has the seeming flux of the external world been re-created within each child on an everyday basis. From social stresses such as family breakdown and insecure employment patterns to developing an anxious over-reliance on social media and the internet, young people have never been more connected, yet isolated.

Then add the all-pervading culture of “Targets”. Children from a very young age are now experiencing the effects of frequently shifting school performance targets that define – then re-define – what they are expected to be capable of at any point in time.

But many schools are accepting the challenge of maximising the academic potential of each young person within the wider framework of developing their emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.

However, much of the current education system still places an undue emphasis on the role of “thought” and “The Mind”. This commonly results in a continual daily focus on a task-driven process.


Task driven process Mind Understand Completion Assess


Looks familiar..?

We are all so much more than “mind”. We are Mind, Body and Feelings. These forces are in frequent conflict and often cause young people to feel anxious and sometimes, simply overwhelmed.

An Emotional Intelligence perspective empowers a school to switch the focus: from the Task to the Person. By recognising and consciously working to change the feeling, a school can work towards creating an everyday state of Energised Calm in each student. This will have a positive simultaneous impact on both academic progress and all aspects of personal development.

Such an Emotionally Intelligent approach is particularly important in enabling children to feel rooted and grounded by the age of five. Being grounded means being able to create your own sense of trust, security and physical health . This in turn, empowers you to express your own needs and identity – “The right to be”.

Ignoring this means reverting back into a survival consciousness. By not working with our feelings at an early age, we override our body’s needs. It’s like we pull up our own roots that stops any further growth.

Emotional Intelligence can therefore help us to stop negative patterns taking root that can grow throughout our entire life. They might prove familiar:

  • A feeling of frequent fear
  • A deep-seated reaction to perceived “threats”
  • A lack of boundaries – not being able to say “no”
  • Lacking self-discipline to achieve a goal

A Vital Role

Emotional Intelligence is playing a vital role in creating effective teaching and learning through enabling both teachers and students alike to actively work with the conflicting forces of Mind, Body and FeelingsSkills for Life – such as:

  • Consciously changing the feeling – to change the thought and resulting action
  • Developing less “Re-active” teaching styles – beneficially changing classroom interaction
  • Making calm, conscious choices – to be the “Cause” not the “Effect” of your actions
  • Taking a step back – creating more grounded and objective perspectives
  • Greatly reducing stress and tension
  • Developing compassion for yourself
  • – and much more


These factors are also combining to make a positive everyday impact on the school environment – including:

  • Calm, productive classrooms
  • Improved student focus, engagement and motivation
  • Academic attainment
  • Improved teacher-student relationships
  • Enriched peer-to-peer and family relationships
  • Significant reduction in sanctions
  • Improved attendance
  • – and more


The CoolFire Approach

CoolFire is different to many approaches in developing Emotional Intelligence. It integrates a number of established therapeutic disciplines – including breathwork, visualisation, dynamic movement, acupressure – and more – to create very practical daily regimes that transparently fit over the school and home day. This has both an immediate and longer-term positive effect on the way both students and teachers feel, think and act.

The CoolFire Approach is also firmly rooted in a proven science-based rationale that changes many widely-held perspectives on the interaction between Mind, Body and Feelings.

CoolFire enables each student and staff member to create their own Positive Inputs Framework that underpins every aspect of mental health and wider holistic wellbeing.

Over 7,500 young people (ages 3-18+) and 3,500 staff have experienced The CoolFire Effect over the last five years.

Find out more on how you can use CoolFire to create a whole-school emotionally intelligent culture as the key to long-term effective teaching and learning.



(1) 2011 Career Builder survey – quoted by Harvey Deutschendorf – www.fastcompany.com


Comments are closed.