LinkedinTwitterThe DetailsConnectBlog Facebook Meet the TherapistHome For Writers

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Four Domains of Emotional Intelligence

Last week, I introduced the concept of Emotional Intelligence by describing what people without it have issues with. You can click here to find out more. Then I put out a call for definitions of emotional intelligence from my readers. I only had two brave souls, Keli and Shilpa, but they did a great job! Thanks ladies!

According to Dr. Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence (1995), Emotional Intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. So Keli was right in that it is the ability to look outside yourself, but it's also the ability to look inward, too.

Goleman theorizes that there are four parts to EI: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness (empathy), and relationship management (social skills).

Now you know our characters don't have all of these! Any book would end with a better character arc if your characters can improve in one or more of these areas. Let's look at them closer. Below is a chart that nicely shows how the four areas are spread over actions/observations and personal/social arenas.

  • Self-awareness – The ability to recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior, know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence. This is the ability to step outside yourself with focused observation of how you feel and react in various situations.
  • Self-management – The ability to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances. Having a non-reactive analytic approach to your feelings and problem solving to increase appropriate responses.
  • Social awareness – The ability to observe and understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization. In a nutshell, this is empathy, a fundamental "people skill."
  • Relationship management – The ability to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict. In other words, having good social skills and being competent in relating to the emotions of others and remain connected.
So think about how your character fares in these areas and pick at least one to really carry them through on an emotional intelligence arc. People like to be around high EQ people, and reading about people reaching a greater level of EQ is equally satisfying.


Katrina S. Forest said...

The teacher in me is coming out, because when I read "emotional intelligence," the first thing I think is, "Yes, of course, the multiple intelligence theory. Right next to spacial intelligence, interpersonal intelligence..."


Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for the helpful post, Jeannie. My mind is already whirling as I assess my characters in light of this information and make sure they grow in one or more of these areas during the course of the story.

Jaleh D said...

I know this is for our characters, but I'm looking at it and thinking of how I can try to use as a parent. So hard to teach what is appropriate expression of emotions (primarily when it is and isn't okay to cry) without putting down the feelings themselves.

Anyhow, I'll take a look at my characters later and see where they're at and where I can take them with this in mind. I should have taken more than just the basic psychology class in college. This is neat stuff and makes so much sense.

Shilpa Mudiganti said...

Very helpful post Jeanie.
"eople like to be around high EQ people, and reading about people reaching a greater level of EQ is equally satisfying."
I would try to remember this for my characters.

Jessica Nelson said...

I've never heard of this but it sounds great! I'll need to keep it in mind for my next story...

Tracy Krauss said...

I never thought about approaching a character in this way before. Very interesting. thanks!

Dr. Cheryl Carvajal said...

This is a really great book. It's helped me work with my son, since he's pretty brainy, but has significant emotional issues (mostly when he doesn't even recognize his own emotional state, but acts up because of it). I ended up buying the book for a bunch of relatives, for it's REALLY informative and very readable. Jaleh's comment fits with my reasons for reading the book, and then buying copies for others.

We as readers--just as in life--tend to have difficulty with characters who are insensitive, who deny their own feelings, discount the feelings of others, or act even when doing so hurts others. Emma and Mr. Darcy (both Austen's characters) have issues with this, but they learn. If they didn't, the books wouldn't be so good.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

shakespeare - those are great examples of austen characters who lacked some aspect of emotional intelligence at the beginning of the book and gained it toward the end. i might have to use them as an example if i ever write about this in depth for a character craft book. thanks!

Nathan Magnuson said...

Thanks for sharing this summary - I'd like to do a post like this myself!

Unknown said...

Thank you!

Jeff Wilder said...

While going through this article, I would like to learn about emotional intelligence. There are several ways to improve our emotional intelligence and we should follow some beneficial instructions from here. Thanks for such wonderful instructions.
Emotional Intelligence

Post a Comment

Both comments and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed your time on the couch today.