Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.  Our emotional intelligence — the way we manage emotions, both our own and those of others — can play a critical role in determining our happiness and success (Daniel Goleman).

Habits of emotionally intelligent people

1. Emotionally intelligent people tend to notice more.

They have a candid and realistic understanding of themselves. It’s not just about knowing what to say and when to say it. Anybody can learn social skills, which are centered around acting and don’t require the actor to mean what they say. It takes more effort, bravery, and personal development to become emotionally intelligent.

2. They keep the end goal in mind.

Those who succeed in life and business keep an eye on the big picture. This means letting go of petty perceived slights and road bumps that present themselves each and every day. When you keep the end goal at the top of your mind, it is easier to negotiate with a difficult client, create successful, win-win partnerships, and focus your energy on what is most important — not getting sidetracked by petty annoyances and putting out little fires.

That goes for relationships, too. If a long-term committed partnership with your spouse is your top priority, then you are less likely to focus on the proverbial toothpaste cap conundrums that trip up so many couples. Even bigger issues such as differences in money management or raising kids are more easily negotiated when you are both focused on lifelong collaboration.

3. Emotionally intelligent people have genuine introspection

People who who seem to display high levels of emotional intelligence also appear to be the most gentle, reserved, kind, and genuine people. They appear to be wise beyond their years. People are not born this way; it takes a certain amount of introspection (and often adversity) to develop a deep sensitivity and awareness of yourself and the world around you.

Genuine introspection and truly knowing oneself, then consciously using that information to develop awareness, compassion, and understanding is what sets emotional intelligence apart from social awareness.

Daniel Goleman, Author -Emotional Intelligence and FOCUS: The Hidden Driver of Excellence on developing emotional intelligence

1. First, get committed. Mobilize the motivating power in the left prefrontal areas. If you’re a coach, you’ve got to engage the person, get them enthused about achieving the goal of change. Here it helps to draw on their dreams, their vision for themselves, where they want to be in the future. Then work from where they are now on what they might improve to help them get where they want to go in life.

2. Next, get practical. Don’t take on trying to learn too much all at once. Manage your goal at the level of a specific behavior. Make it practical, so you know exactly what to do and when. For example, say someone has “smartphone syndrome”. You have to break the habit of multi-tasking. Make up an intentional learning plan.

When you start to form the new, better habit you are essentially creating new circuitry that competes with your old habit in a kind of neural Darwinism. To make the new habit strong enough, you’re got to use the power of neuroplasticity – you have to do it over and over again.

If you persist in the better habit, that new circuitry will connect and become more and more powerful, until one day you’ll do the right thing in the right way without a second thought. That means the circuitry has become so connected and thick that this is the brain’s new default option. With that change in the brain, the better habit will become your automatic choice.

How to create a greater sense of emotional intelligence

1. Awareness. Recognising individual emotions as they occur, understanding why they occur, and understanding the effects (both good and bad) they have on you.

2. Control. Resisting impulses and urges (delaying gratification), remaining calm even as chaos ensues, and always thinking clearly when those around you can’t.

3. Assessment. Knowing strengths and weaknesses, learning from mistakes, and constantly striving to build on what you have in an attempt to make yourself better.

4. Vision. Creating a sense of direction in your life, having the foresight to anticipate problems/needs before they arise, and paying attention to the details.

5. Creativity. Thinking outside the box, developing a tolerance for ambiguity, and maintaining an openness to change.

6. Innovation. Seeking out unconventional solutions to problems, keeping an open mind to novelty in the world, and applying creativity in practical ways.

7. Ambition. Setting tough but attainable goals, constantly raising the bar in pursuit of excellence, and feeding the need for achievement whenever you can.

8. Initiative. Taking the first step when opportunity arises, never sitting back because it’s not in your “job description”, and bending the rules (occasionally) when it comes to making progress.

9. Conscientiousness. Accepting responsibility for personal performance, adopting a focused approach in your work, and understanding that nobody else is to blame for your shortcomings.

10. Adaptability. Admitting when you’ve failed, remaining flexible in the face of obstacles, and never being too stubborn to change.

11. Independence. Living with an unshakable sense of who you are, making your own decisions in the face of peer pressure, and acting despite tremendous risk and doubt.

12. Optimism. Understanding we all make mistakes, choosing to persist no matter how many times you’ve failed, and always remaining hopeful that success is just around the corner.

–Twelve aspects of creating emotional intelligence originally shared on Zenhabits

As long as you take the time to really imprint your new behaviours in your mind they’re bound to stick and you’re bound to feel the difference.


  1. What I just read described me accurately. Yes, much adversity and obstacles to become emotionally intelligent. I also believe my personality type had a big hand in being able to achieve this high level of E.I. and I’m comfortable with it cause it’s second nature for me. I attribute E.I. to my successes.

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