A Guide to the Five Components of Emotional Intelligence

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five components of emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence wasn’t always a known—or acknowledged—component of success until 1990 when psychologists John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey published their paper on what would later become a new way of defining intelligence. Not only did the paper introduce the term ‘emotional intelligence’ or EQ to the world, it also led to a new understanding of how our emotional make-up impacts our lives.

But what is emotional intelligence really? How is it defined? The easiest way to explain the fundamentals of EQ is to understand the five components of emotional intelligence: self awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. Understanding these five components of emotional intelligence will help you learn how to better adjust your own emotions and your reactions to others in the most positive ways. Understanding your emotional intelligence will help you to model better behavior for your kids, so that they can start developing healthy habits early on.

  1. Self-Awareness

Being self-aware means exactly what you think… learning to understand your self and your feelings. An individual who is self aware can explain why they are angry. They know the root of the problem and they can ascribe that issue to their feelings. Self-awareness also allows a healthy expression of emotions. Anger won’t boil to the point of rage or an outburst. An individual who has a healthy self-awareness expresses his or her feelings in a reasonable way and often can initiate positive resolutions for those feelings.

  1. Self-Management

Personal accountability is integral to success—both in school and professionally. But self-management isn’t about drive or motivation, rather this aspect of EQ relates to how an individual handles and manages their role within a given situation. Those with a high EQ often look at a problem constructively and find ways to solve the problem. They don’t brood or complain—they solve and manage proactively and respectfully. In school, good self-management ability is often associated with those who take on leadership roles, and in business this is a key personality trait of any good manager.

  1. Social Awareness

Those who are socially aware relate well to those around them. This doesn’t mean that you have to be best friends with everyone. Instead, social awareness denotes the ability to understand others and to walk in someone else’s shoes. Those with acute social awareness can predict how a given situation will cause others to react, and they adjust their response in return. But, most importantly, those with high EQ will want to understand the feelings of others in a meaningful way.

five components of emotional intelligence

  1. Relationship Skills

How we interact with others affects our relationships. Remember the adage: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” People who have an innate ability to manage others often share a common trait: they know how to maintain good working relationships. Great leaders think about how their actions will affect their relationships, and they communicate their expectations clearly. They also care about how others perceive their actions and always make themselves approachable.

  1. Responsible Decision Making

An individual who possesses a high EQ has a firm set of values—and they don’t compromise these values, even when there is pressure to do so. When making decisions, an individual always uses his or her values to determine the course of action and they think of how this decision will affect others. Someone who is emotionally in tune will not take any decision lightly, and they will hold firm on their final stance.

EQ isn’t nearly as rigid as our IQ (which typically cannot be changed). Use the five components of emotional intelligence to better understand the basis of EQ and to strengthen your own emotional aptitude…or the EQ of your children. It’s never too late to positively change our relationships with others or to learn how to better handle our own emotional responses.


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