How High Is Your Emotional Intelligence? Here’s How to Find Out

three women having lunch together

Even if we don’t know our own, we all have a pretty good idea of what an IQ is, right? But what about an EQ? That one's a little more complicated—not to mention harder to measure. EQ, for the uninitiated, stands for emotional intelligence or emotional quotient, and it’s absolutely crucial to personal and professional success. Here’s what you need to know about how to determine—and increase—your own.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Very basically, emotional intelligence is how well individuals manage their own emotions and react to the emotions of others. While it first appeared in a 1964 paper, the term rose to prominence in psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Why is EQ important? Well, if you haven’t noticed, we live in a social world, meaning we’re forced to interact with others constantly—whether we like it or not. People who have high EQs are better able to manage conflict, understand and respond to the needs of others and keep their own emotions from getting the better of them.

What Determines a Person’s EQ?

According to Goleman’s model, there are five key areas of emotional intelligence:

1. Self-Awareness

This one is the ability to know one's emotions, strengths and weaknesses, while recognizing their impact on others. 

2. Self-Management

No matter how well you organize your life, wrenches will inevitably be thrown into your plan. Self-management involves controlling or redirecting one's disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.

3. Motivation

According to Goleman's model, a person with a high emotional intelligence is motivated by a sense of accomplishment, rather than a desire for external rewards, like money and status. 

4. Empathy

Unlike the other four areas, this one is about other people’s emotions. Per Goleman, empathy means considering other people's feelings—especially when making decisions.

5. Social Skills

As we mentioned earlier, interacting with others is pretty much non-negotiable. How well you can manage these relationships determines how strong your social skills are.

There are a couple ways you can determine your own EQ. If you have 45 minutes or so, you can take an online test, like this one from Psychology Today. On a less scientific level, you can read up on the five tenets listed above and analyze your own performance in each one.

How Can You Become More Emotionally Intelligent?

This is a loaded question, but here are two simple ways to up your EQ. First, become aware of how you deal with your own emotions. After a particularly stressful day at work, for example, reflect on how you handled the stress. Did you freak out? Did you shut down? Did you remain calm and push through it? Once you understand how you’re reacting to things, you’re better able to change your ways if you don’t like what you see. Also try asking the people around you for feedback. Note that it might not be all sunshine and roses, but asking the people who see you at your best and worst to critique your behavior can be eye-opening and motivating.

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sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...