Emotional intelligence is one of today’s most common buzzwords. So many people are throwing it around. But what exactly is it? Is it someone’s ability to display and demonstrate empathy and relate to other people? Or is it a way to connect with one’s own self and ability to interact with others at an emotional level? Is it all of that, and more?

Perhaps, more importantly, why exactly is emotional intelligence important?

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Famed author, science journalist, and psychologist, Daniel Goleman, identified emotional intelligence as a reflection of five distinct and interrelated factors, namely:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Self-motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social Skills

A basic definition of these five will give you a good idea of what emotional intelligence is. But still, that doesn’t answer the question, why is it important? Why is it a competence necessary for professionals?


Why Emotional Intelligence is Important?

Most of us grew up measuring our intelligence based on our scores on standardized test formats. The higher our scores were, the more “intelligent” we seemed.

For the most part, this is true. Intelligence can be, in part, measured by how well you do in these said tests. However, in the workforce, we are rarely graded based on standardized formats and formulas. Instead, our employers, or in a freelancer/small business person’s case, our clients, “grade” us based on our work ethic and our ability to deliver on a given task or project.

As defined by Peter Salovey and John Mayer, Emotional Intelligence is “the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.”

Basically, it’s like a compass – you use your emotional intelligence to guide your every decision.

This is crucial. Remember, you have no boss. You literally own your time. You are only beholden to the deadlines that you choose to impose upon yourself. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Which of the two it becomes for you depends on your ability to handle everything that comes your way. Your emotional intelligence plays a key role in that.

Your ability to look inwards and assess your own progress, as well as make the necessary adjustments towards achieving your goals and the ability to recognize your potential to react and discipline your emotions in extremely stressful situations and not let your emotions get the best of you can and will determine your success as a freelancer.

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Developing Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence isn’t just as important professionally. It’s important to you on an individual level.

Something as simple as understanding what Emotional Intelligence is and why it matters can help tremendously in improving your own Emotional Quotient. In particular, it can help you identify how your own thoughts and emotions factored into what happened in recent situations that you found yourself in, whether it’s work-related or at home.

Once you have started identifying how Emotional Intelligence plays a huge role in your day-to-day life, it makes it easier to address problem areas.

Take for example, how you deal with criticism from clients, or how you handle setbacks and failures.

Given enough time, you’ll learn how to successfully navigate your way through a plethora of criticisms, setbacks, and failures that you’re bound to go through in your journey. And, who knows? The journey to improving your Emotional Intelligence might lead you to become a happier person overall as well.