Emotional Intelligence has become one of if not the most valued attribute in leaders and employees as of late. It makes sense, as having high emotional intelligence allows one to interpret theirs and others emotions, as well as how they can impact others. Some people will naturally be emotionally intelligent, but it’s a skill that anyone can learn. The important thing to know is that there are 5 major characteristics for EQ, and that each one has their own benefits. Daniel Goleman, a writer, and researcher determined these characteristics as self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation, and social skills. But what exactly do each of those mean? Let’s break them down.


Being self-aware means you’re able to recognize your own emotions, limitations, and actions and how they affect those around you. By being self-aware, you’re able to increase the chances of using and taking constructive feedback effectively. There are plenty of ways to increase how self-aware you are, such as observing how others respond to your behavior or keeping a diary of situations such as when you’ve been angry, and the thoughts you had and the ways you acted during that situation. This allows you to create an understanding of your emotions and reactions.


Self-regulation is the ability to manage your emotions according to the situation. You’re able to restrain or show certain emotions based on what would be appropriate in that situation. This allows you to earn the respect and trust of your team members as well as allowing you to be rational in stressful situations. If you’re looking to improve your own self-regulation, a good place to start is by responding to situations calmly. By doing this, your communication is more effective and you’ll be able to spread that calmness to others. It’s also good to take responsibility if you make mistakes. Your team will respect you for being honest and you’ll feel better about the situation. 


Empathy is the ability to identify and understand another person’s emotions. It gives an understanding of how someone feels and why they feel that way. This causes your compassion to increase because you respond genuinely to concerns. Empathy is also useful when giving feedback as well as showing that you care. Employees will respect you more for being empathetic which can cause overall job performance to improve. There are plenty of ways to develop empathy, such as imagining yourself in another’s position or listening to your employees without interrupting them. 


If you’re self-motivated, you likely enjoy what you do and care less about status or money and more about reaching your goals. Being self-motivated is great because it increases self-confidence as well helping you focus. It can even be contagious and spread to your team! If you’re finding yourself lacking in the motivation department, try to remain optimistic. In order to be motivated, you must have a positive outlook on things, so by being optimistic you’re sure to gain some motivation.

Social Skills

If you’re able to maintain healthy relationships with your teammates, you likely have good social skills. Have social skills is important because it allows you to gain respect and trust with your teammates. You can improve your social skills by learning how to provide constructive feedback, or by building relationships with your teammates that will help you get a better understanding of one another. 

If you excel in all 5 of these characteristics, it’s likely you have high emotional intelligence. If you don’t excel in all 5, that’s okay too. There are plenty of ways to build upon the skills as well as practice emotional intelligence so you can use it to its fullest.