Are you emotionally intelligent?

Intelligence has many components, some of which are related to your ability to figure and others to your ability to feel.

IQ (Intelligence Quotient) tests measure your ability to problem solve, use logic, and understand complicated ideas. 

EQ (Emotional Quotient) tests measure your ability to identify emotion in yourself and others and how you use that to determine how to react in different situations.

Both kinds of intelligence can influence your career progression, relationships, and overall happiness. 

While IQ can be measured objectively by many different types of intelligence tests, EQ is more subjective. Therefore, phycologists created four distinct categories of emotional intelligence traits, along with 12 individual EQ elements, each falling into one of these categories. 

Below are descriptions of each of those elements, along with prompts and questions to help you determine just how emotionally intelligent you actually are – enjoy!

Category 1: Self Awareness

1. Emotional Self-Awareness

Emotional Self-Awareness is the essential skill of tapping into your thoughts and feelings and understanding the impact they are having on yourself and others. Emotional self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence; without it, individuals may find it hard to foster and grow the 11 other elements.

DO YOU HAVE EMOTIONAL SELF-AWARENESS?: Do you have a core set of values which you try to uphold? If so, when was the last time you applied them to an emotional situation? When was the last time you admitted weakness and asked for help?

DEVELOPING EMOTIONAL SELF-AWARENESS: Emotional self-awareness is a learned behavior that you can improve with practice. With each moment in life being an opportunity to do so, there is no excuse not to! Practice asking for help when needed and next time you feel a strong emotion, try to pinpoint its root cause.

Category 2: Self Management

2. Emotional Self-Control

After identifying your emotions using self-awareness, emotional self-control is the ability to control your response to these emotions, especially if said emotions are negative or the product of a stressful environment. 

DO YOU HAVE EMOTIONAL SELF-CONTROL?: When was the last time you faced a problematic or frustrating interpersonal issue? Did you fly off the handle, or did you regulate your emotions?

DEVELOPING EMOTIONAL SELF-CONTROL: Keeping your cool and regulating your response for the team’s good does not mean suppressing or ignoring your emotional responses, but instead challenging and channeling them in a controlled and productive way. Next time you feel tempted to react impulsively, stop, think, and consider alternative responses.

3. Adaptability

Adaptability means growing and changing with the new situations and circumstances that confront you. Although uncertainty or change can be daunting, rising above it and finding alternative solutions can often bring new or more innovative ideas which you would otherwise not have discovered. Flexibility and open-mindedness are key.

ARE YOU ADAPTABLE?: When was the last time you felt forced to do something differently? What emotions did this make you feel? Did you feel stressed and anxious, or did you feel able to cope?

DEVELOPING ADAPTABILITY: Not all situations require you to be adaptable. Sometimes the most obvious option is the best one. However, try to think of alternative approaches regardless. This practice means that it won’t be so scary when you really do need to adapt.

4. Achievement Orientation

Achievement orientation may seem simple – the drive to meet or achieve high expectations – however, being strong in this competency means more than this. It requires foresight, consideration and the ability to implement plans. You must be able to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

ARE YOU ACHIEVEMENT-ORIENTED?: When was the last time you asked for feedback and made fundamental changes based on the response? When was the last time you wrote down goals, and were they personally driven or for the good of your wider professional circle?

DEVELOPING ACHIEVEMENT ORIENTATION: To create and enhance the competency of achievement orientation, individuals can spend time reflecting on and identifying their long-term and short-term goals and setting up some plans for working towards each of these goals.

5. Positive Outlook

The glass of someone with a positive outlook is half full almost all of the time. You see the best in people and situations, and whilst not ignoring challenges and pitfalls, choose to focus on the good. This mindset helps foster resilience and retain motivation in the face of adversities. 

DO YOU HAVE A POSITIVE OUTLOOK?: When you last faced a challenging situation, what was your first reaction? Did your mind immediately go to the negatives, or did you look on the bright side instead?

DEVELOPING A POSITIVE OUTLOOK: Next time you have a challenge at work, try to see it as an opportunity to grow rather than an inconvenience which needs to be solved. Simply the action of smiling has even been shown to help boost serotonin levels too!

Category 3: Social Awareness

6. Empathy

Empathy means being able to identify and respond to other peoples’ emotions. Empaths can pick up on the nuances of peoples’ body language and expressions and then celebrate, commiserate or connect with that person effectively. Empathy is about consideration and awareness, not only feeling sorry for people.

DO YOU HAVE EMPATHY?: When was the last time someone came to you with a problem? Was your first instinct one of irritation or frustration, or did you feel able to understand and collaborate with them from a place of compassion?

DEVELOPING EMPATHY: To be an empath, listen actively to people when they talk to you. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Being a good friend or colleague isn’t all about productivity. Sometimes some loving words of advice are the best thing you could offer them.

7. Organizational Awareness

Organizational awareness means being able to read the dynamics of a team or company effectively. By recognizing the values, relationships and opportunities at hand, you can plan how to best capitalize on the forces already at play.

DO YOU HAVE ORGANIZATIONAL AWARENESS?: How often can you predict what your manager will say? How often can you tell how your colleague will react in a challenging situation? Essentially, do you feel in tune with your organization and its people? 

DEVELOPING ORGANIZATIONAL AWARENESS: First and foremost, organizational awareness requires good observation and listening skills. The best way to learn about your surroundings is to engage your senses. Do not talk over someone else. Ask questions and invite others to do the same.

Category 4: Relationship Management

8. Influence

Having influence is critical in any leadership situation. However, you can either influence people willingly or by force. With tact and compassion, softly influencing people is almost always the best and most effective option.

DO YOU HAVE INFLUENCE?: Are you a trendsetter or a trend follower? Do your colleagues often come to you for advice and implement it themselves? Take a look at your daily interactions, and you may find that you have more influence and impact on the people around you than you think.

DEVELOPING INFLUENCE: Network, network, network. And whilst doing so, listen to what other people say. Good influence is often a careful mix of quiet confidence and personalism.

9. Coach and Mentor

Coaches and mentors have the skills and abilities to share life principles and truths that inspire each person to look deep within themselves. We often need to be prompted or provoked to take action and achieve. But only when someone has experienced a change from within will that change be lasting and for the better.

ARE YOU A COACH OR MENTOR?: Coaching does not necessarily have to be your chosen vocation for you to be one. Nor do you necessarily have to have it as a title within your organization. If people look up to you, value your advice and see you as a guiding figure, you may be in a coaching or mentorship role without knowing it.

DEVELOPING COACHING AND MENTORSHIP SKILLS: Try to ask essential questions to help the individual clarify and solve their problem rather than solve it for them. By simply gaining more personal career experience yourself, you will be able to provide individuals with more practical, real-world techniques and skills, allowing them to reach their full potential too. 

10. Conflict Management

This element is all about conflict resolution and finding common ground. It involves being able to mediate tense situations and bring people together in harmony despite differing opinions or viewpoints.

CAN YOU MANAGE CONFLICT?: The last time two of your colleagues were in disagreement, did you step in to help find a compromise or step back and allow them to come to a resolution themselves?

DEVELOPING CONFLICT MANAGEMENT: The first step to resolving a conflict is often about bringing a calm and unbiased presence and honing into the facts instead of the emotions. Try this next time a dispute arises.

11. Teamwork

Teamwork is one of the critical foundations of a successful organization. It involves being able to work towards a shared goal and contributing in a meaningful way as part of a larger group of colleagues.

ARE YOU A TEAM PLAYER?: A team player is there for their colleagues in challenging situations. If a colleague needs assistance, you are the one to offer it. When you make promises, you keep them.

DEVELOPING TEAMWORK SKILLS: Next time you have two options, step back and consider which one would be best for you and which would be best for the team as a whole too. Be vocal that should any of your colleagues need support; you would be happy to lend a hand or an ear.

12. Inspirational Leadership

Embracing all of the above elements will make you an inspirational leader. Inspirational leadership shares many commonalities with influence, mentorship and coaching too. However, inspirational leadership means not only guiding your team towards success but doing so in an empowering and uplifting way.

ARE YOU AN INSPIRATIONAL LEADER?: Think about who has been an inspirational leader to you in your career. Most people can identify at least one person. Compare yourself to them and see if you can find any commonalities.

DEVELOPING INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP: Using the same inspirational figure you identified in the step above, identify the inspiring traits which they display but that you do not yet have and try to develop these for yourself. Inspirational leadership looks different for everyone, but taking a good example and trying to emulate some aspects is a great place to start. 


Being ‘book smart’ and knowledgeable about your field is imperative to a successful career. However, emotional intelligence is what can really distinguish good leaders from great ones. 

EQ is so much more than just being compassionate or funny. It consists of many different skills and traits, as outlined above. 

Whilst you don’t need to be a master of each element, employers are becoming more and more conscious of considering individuals’ overall EQs when it comes to the recruitment process. 

So start enhancing your EQ today. Our coaches can help you on that journey towards emotional insightfulness. Contact us to find out more.

This article is written by:

Holly Thompson

Holly is a Chartered Accountant (CA) from Scotland with a background in external audit and prospects in forensic accounting. She also has experience in editorial and creative writing which she is putting to use during her time in Sweden. Look out for new blog posts, perfect for open and curiously minded individuals.

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