Emotional Intelligence (EI), often measured as an Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ), describes an ability, capacity, or skill to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of one’s self, of others, and of groups. It is a relatively new area of psychological research and the definition of EI is constantly changing.
WHY EQ AND NOT IQ?
Traditional measurements of intelligence emphasised cognitive aspects such as memory and problem-solving through IQ tests, but failed to address the influence of non-intellective factors on intelligent behaviour and the performance of an individual in life. In 1983, Howard Gardner’s book “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences” introduced the idea of multiple intelligences which included both Interpersonal intelligence (the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people) and Intrapersonal intelligence (the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one’s feelings, fears and motivations). However the publication of Daniel Goleman’s best seller “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” made the term EI widely popular.
MODELS OF EI
A) The ability - based model
This model was suggested by Salovey and Mayer. It views emotions as useful sources of information that help one to make sense of and navigate the social environment. The ability based model proposes that individuals vary in their ability to process information of an emotional nature and in their ability to relate emotional processing to different situations. It proposes that EI includes 4 types of abilities:
1. Perceiving emotions – the ability to detect and decipher emotions in faces, pictures, voices, and cultural artefacts – including the ability to identify one’s own emotions. Perceiving emotions represents a basic aspect of emotional intelligence, as it makes all other processing of emotional information possible.
2. Using emotions – the ability to harness emotions to facilitate various cognitive activities, such as thinking and problem solving. The emotionally intelligent person can capitalize fully upon his or her changing moods in order to best fit the task at hand.
3. Understanding emotions – the ability to comprehend emotion language and to appreciate complicated relationships among emotions. For example, understanding emotions encompasses the ability to be sensitive to slight variations between emotions, and the ability to recognize and describe how emotions evolve over time.
4. Managing emotions – the ability to regulate emotions in both ourselves and in others. Therefore, the emotionally intelligent person can harness emotions, even negative ones, and manage them to achieve intended goals.
B) The Emotional Competencies (Goleman) model
The EI model introduced by Daniel Goleman outlines four main EI constructs:
1. Self-awareness – the ability to read one’s emotions and recognise their impact while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
2. Self-management – involves controlling one’s emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
3. Social awareness – the ability to sense, understand, and react to other’s emotions while comprehending social networks.
4. Relationship management – the ability to inspire, influence, and develop others while managing conflict.
The most popular test to measure EI is the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT). The MSCEIT asks test takers to:
Identify the emotions expressed by a face or in designs.
Generate a mood and solve problems with that mood.
Define the causes of different emotions. Understand the progression of emotions.
Determine how to best include emotion in our thinking in situations that involve us or other people.
CORPORATE USE AND MISUSE OF EI
According to multiple studies, companies that emphasize EI have reported increased productivity, higher sales, happier employees and lower staff turnover. Executives and high-level managers who undergo EI training or have naturally high EI skills are more successful, influential and likable. EI has even been shown to keep careers on track. Studies have linked EI competence to high on-the-job performance and poor EI to failure. EI is even more important in the field of corporate leadership, because leaders must be able to influence groups of people, and those people will observe a leader’s interpersonal skills. Whenever there is a new assessment tool that is proposed for hiring purposes, the concern arises that it might lead to unfair job discrimination. The use of EI tests, whose validity is a subject of debate may lead to arbitrary discrimination practices.
ISLAM AND EI
Islam is not just a worship program, but a comprehensive, intelligent and practical life system. Islam respects all the different components of the human being equally and regulates them to their full potential, rather than suppressing them (which hurts the individual), or setting them completely uncontrolled (which causes damage to the community and environment). Emotions are given their due place of importance in all Islamic teachings as fundamental elements of the human soul. Islam teaches moderation in everything, aiming to create equilibrium so that one is always at peace with one’s self, the universe, and Allah. It is advised to avoid extremes in negative or positive emotions, as any extremes are destructive if left uncontrolled. For example, extreme happiness leads to indulgence in excesses to give a false sense of ‘celebration’. While extreme sadness leads to being destructive to one’s self and others (as in committing suicide or causing pain to others). Emotional Intelligence features prominently in the Islamic code of conduct. Islam does not lay much emphasis on hereditary intelligence (IQ) but its focus is on emotional intelligence (EI) skills which modern research has proved to be acquired skills which could be learnt and practiced by everyone and which are the true measure of success in practical life. For example, anger management, social intelligence, empathy.
There are many sayings of the Prophet to encourage being alerted, prudent, compassionate and emotionally strong, and considering those qualities as a mark of a true Muslim. People are not denied being “human” and having their weak moments. They are allowed to experience all sorts of feelings, both good and bad, as long as they make a serious effort to regain their balance and composure and get back in control quickly. Thus Islam provides an applicable system for being wise and strong humans, who are in control of their feelings, and not the other way around.