Beginning to Understand Our Emotional Intelligence

Home / Campus and Medical Center / ( Published on 2014-08-14 )

Only in recent years has there emerged a scientific model of the emotional mind that explains how so much of what we do can be emotionally driven. How can we be so reasonable at one moment and so irrational the next? Is there a sense that emotions have their own reasons and their own logic? Perhaps the two best assessments of the emotional mind are offered independently by Professor Paul Ekman, head of the UCSF Human Interaction Laboratory, and by Seymour Epstein, a Clinical Psychologist at the University of Massachusetts.

Leading writer on Emotional Intelligence (EI) Daniel Goleman (1995) defines EI "as the capacity for recognizing your own feelings and those of others, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships." In his seminal book—Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Goleman discusses the core concepts needed to begin understanding and assessing our emotional intelligence. He discusses the important skill of self-awareness, which includes the two key concepts of personal competence and social competence.

First of all, what is self-awareness? Self-awareness involves having an accurate understanding of how you behave; how other people perceive you; recognizing how you respond to others; being sensitive to your feelings; intents and general communication style at any given moment; and being able to accurately disclose this awareness to others. Here are some examples of self-awareness:

  • Know when you are thinking negatively.
  • Know when your “self talk” is helpful.
  • Know when you are becoming defensive.
  • Know how you are interpreting events. 
  • Know what senses you are currently using.
  • Know the impact your behavior has on others.

Personal competence involves self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation. Goleman describes each as follows:

Self-Awareness: Knowing one’s internal states, preferences, and intuitions.
Self-Regulation: Managing one’s internal states, impulses, and resources.
Motivation: Emotional tendencies that guide or facilitate reaching goals.
Social Competence: Having and using empathy and social skills.
Empathy: Awareness of others’ feelings, needs, and concerns.
Social Skills: Adeptness at inducing desirable responses in others.

The following are suggested readings for more in depth readings on Emotional Intelligence:

Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain
By Antonio R. Damasio (1994)

The Nature of Emotion: Fundamental Questions
By Paul Ekman and Richard J. Davidson (1994, Ed)

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
By Daniel Goleman (1995)

Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It; Why People Demand It
By James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner (1993)

The Leadership Challenge: How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations
By James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner (1993)

Successful Intelligence: How Practical and Creative Intelligence Determine Success in Life
By Robert J. Sternberg (1997)

Managing as a Performing Art: New Ideas for a World of Chaotic Change
By Peter B. Vail (1989)

In closing, keep in mind that in addition to your family, friends, and community supports, professional counseling and other assistance is available here at UCSF, as well as the local community. Knowing when to seek help for you and your loved ones and doing so ahead of time can make a world of a difference.

The Faculty Staff and Assistance Program (FSAP) provides confidential assessment, counseling, and referral services that support the wellbeing of both the individual and the organization. For an appointment or more information contact us at 415/476-8279 or visit the FSAP website.