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Updated: Aug 18, 2021

Have you ever wondered why some people who appear to be deeply intelligent behave in an immature way?

Have you also wondered why some people who lack bright intelligence achieve remarkable results in life?

There are cases where the intelligence quotient (IQ) can establish a person's success in life, but there are also many exceptions to the rule. Emotional intelligence represents these exceptions.


In his book on emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman tells the story of a brilliant college student who stabbed his professor after receiving an unexpected grade above average.

This student was found innocent by the judge because he was in the throes of a psychotic attack.

A few years later, the same student graduated from the best.

The professor that was stabbed complained that he never received an apology.

We could ask ourselves how a person endowed with such intelligence can act in such an irrational way?

The answer is straightforward: school intelligence has little to do with emotional intelligence.

The IQ tells us nothing about how a person will react to the vicissitudes of life, as those who cannot exercise some control over their emotional life fight inner battles that end up sabotaging their ability to focus on work and think clearly.


In the cognitive revolution in the seventies, the focus was on how the mind records and stores information. It was a common opinion that intelligence involved a cold and systematic elaboration of facts, without considering that feelings can guide or overwhelm rationality.

This cold mental elaboration is gradually changing as psychology recognizes the essential role of feeling in thinking.


The etymology of the word intelligence derives from the Latin verb "intelligere," composed of the Latin intus = inside and the Latin verb legere = to read, and expresses the ability to "read inside" and understand collect ideas and information about someone or something.

Intelligence is the faculty of understanding reality in a non-superficial way, going further, in-depth, to grasp its hidden and not immediately evident aspects.

Emotional intelligence thus becomes the ability to perceive emotions, personal and others, control them, draw conclusions and act accordingly.


- Self-awareness of one's emotions

Self-awareness is the keystone of emotional intelligence!

Knowing how to recognize an emotion when it occurs is the first step!

It will then be important not to identify and, therefore, not be carried away by this emotional force. This identification will allow you to make more informed choices rather than choosing something you might regret in the future.

In some circumstances, strong emotions can disturb thinking and throw it into chaos. At the same time, the lack of awareness about feelings can also prove to be disastrous, especially when weighing decisions.

These decisions cannot be made using rationality, but also require gut feelings and emotional wisdom from past experiences.

- Control of emotions

The control of emotions should not be confused with their repression or denial. The basis of this control lies in being in contact with ourselves.

We recognize what is present in us, and we choose not to manifest it in inappropriate situations. We do not repress a particular emotion, but we express it most appropriately, without remaining identified with that particular emotional state.

The basis of all this lies in changing the way we see emotions: there are no "negative" or "positive" emotions; instead, there are "negative" or "positive" reactions to what we feel.

An obvious example is inappropriately venting anger towards someone who has done nothing to us, while repression represents the other side of the coin.

Anger can be a destructive emotion if we channel it the wrong way, such as hurting someone.

It can become a good emotion if we use it to protect ourselves or to correct an injustice.

Another example is when we pretend not to feel discomfort for a situation we are experiencing: this malaise will not magically disappear but will lead us to seek compensatory activities.

Finally, emotional control allows us to recover from the setbacks of life quickly.

- Motivate yourself

Self-awareness and emotional control are the foundations of personal motivation.

When we undertake something new, whether it is a work project, a sporting activity, or a new hobby, it is essential to know how to manage the emotional difficulties that may arise at the beginning. We should therefore be able to delay gratification and manage emotional problems by controlling impulses.

- Recognize the emotions of others

Empathy is a fundamental skill in relationships with others. It allows us to recognize the subtle signs that indicate the needs or wants of others.

The essential basis of empathy recognizes one's emotions, which allows us to identify with the other.

Empathy allows us to understand what lies behind the dysfunctional behavior of others.

Often behind such behavior, there is an inner malaise.

Recognizing the difficulties of the other allows us not to fall into the trap of premature judgment.

It does not necessarily mean understanding the other, but accepting them as they are, even in the moments when we do not understand them.

- Relationship management

The foundation of this relational ability passes through empathy for the emotions of others and knowing how to take charge of one's mistakes or responsibilities. It is important not to confuse it with manipulation.

In the workplace, it allows us to inspire and guide others, bringing out the best qualities of others, and also to face and resolve conflicts.


Neuroscience teaches us that the absence of a neuronal circuit leads to a deficit of a particular capacity. In the case of emotions, the prefrontal cortex helps us to get in touch with them.

There are also many cases in which contact with our emotional life can be problematic despite an intact neuronal structure.

There are emotions from which we have dissociated ourselves for various reasons: they may have been too painful, and therefore we have chosen not to feel them, or we may have the erroneous belief that they are wrong.

These emotions do not disappear but remain below the threshold of awareness and can negatively affect how we perceive and act. Also, disconnecting from our feelings makes it more challenging to connect with others.

The path to developing this type of intelligence can initially be difficult because we may encounter emotional realities that we have preferred to avoid until now. Still, in the long term, it can help us live a fuller and more fulfilling life.

Recommended reading:

Emotional intelligence (1995) - Daniel Goleman

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