Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Quotient or Emotional Literacy – what is the difference?

These three terms seem to be everywhere, but what do they mean, and what are they used for?

Emotional Intelligence – a human capacity proven to matter more than just being smart

Intelligence is the quality of being able to understand what is happening in the world and adapt or develop in ways that allow us to succeed.

There are many types of intelligence; intellectual, social, physical and spiritual are some of a shifting list of aspects of life which we discuss as aspects of intelligence. Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to be aware of, understand and interpret, control and adapt to survive in an emotional environment. It includes both intrapersonal (within oneself) and interpersonal (between people) skills and capabilities.

EI is now recognised as critically important in achieving success in life – far more than the traditional focus on intellectual intelligence. You can be mentally very smart, and quite unable to cope if you have not developed emotional intelligence. The Harvard Business Review suggests that EI accounts for 90% of the difference between getting promoted and staying in your old desk. No wonder EI is a hot topic in the business world and in the training and development industry!

Emotional Quotient – measuring the variables to divide people?

When measures were invented for IQ (Binet 1905) it was done to identify children who would benefit from additional learning support. Not surprisingly, it was quickly utilized to separate people. Rather than help those in need, the Binet-Simon Scale was used to remove poorly performing children from schools and place them into asylums. This highlights the pitfalls of measurement. Measures are not always used in the way they are intended. One person’s ‘good’ can be detrimental to others, often for no good reason. The work of Binet and others launched a profitable industry and a culture of measuring that contributed to some of the shameful episodes in twentieth century history. These include the eugenics movement, institutionalised racism and some pretty spectacular scandals in psychology. It’s well worth exploring as a case study if you have an interest in scientific ethics.

The loss of confidence in IQ in the 20th century has implications in the search for a way to measure EI and give an EQ score; literally your measured emotional intelligence.

There is no single tool recognised as the measure of EQ. Measuring something as difficult to pin down as human ability is not easy – even if we did all agree on what it was we were looking for. The efforts of British scientist Thomas Galton to do this in the 1880s proved so difficult that he abandoned his attempt to measure human ability. This said, the potential for profit from EQ assessments will ensure that the search for a tool will continue. It is important to continually question the intentions, reliability, validity and application of these tests to ensure that they are not used to disadvantage others as IQ testing is recognised to have done in the past.

Before putting our trust in EQ measures as a way of deciding between people the purpose and possible consequences of introducing inequality should be considered. Campbell Education takes the view that ‘Handsome is as handsome does‘. A high score for EQ does not mean that anyone is going to apply their potential skills well in real life situations where personal and social factors are involved. While the process of trying to define and quantify Emotional Intelligence is interesting, and may contribute to evaluation and research, EQ testing has no place in Emotional Skills Training as we practice it. Campbell Education simply works to develop the internal and external skills of emotional intelligence.

Emotional Literacy – putting Emotional Intelligence into action

Emotional literacy is a term that grew out of the world of psychiatry and psychotherapy in the seventies and eighties. It describes the ability of a person to carry out a range of skills that underpin what we think of as EI. Many people familiar with the work of Claude Steiner will have come across this approach, which he defined as being compounded of five key features. The interpretations of these are my own.

  1. The ability to understand emotion and recognise your experience of emotions.
  2. To be aware of others, to listen to others, and to empathise with their emotional experiences as being as valid as your own.
  3. Being comfortable with your emotions and having the ability to control your responses in ways that are proportionate and appropriate. This includes being able to share them with others without embarrassment, and without negatively affecting the other person.
  4. Having a willingness to address and repair or resolve emotional problems. This may include working with past issues or dealing with present conflicts within oneself or with others.
  5. Integrating each of these factors effectively and achieving emotional interactivity. Emotions are part of a transactional social economy and the ability to take part on the economy depends on the ability to achieve coherent and integrated personal management of all of these aspects of our emotional life.

“To be emotionally literate is to be able to handle emotions in a way that improves your personal power and improves the quality of life around you. Emotional literacy improves relationships, creates loving possibilities between people, makes cooperative work possible and facilitates the feeling of community.” Claud Steiner.

Coping with the pressure, stress and anxiety of modern life

Campbell Education uses a range of techniques developed for modern adults who wish to develop their emotional literacy. Whether the objective is to improve performance for professional purposes, cope with the pressure, stress and anxiety of everyday life, or go deeper to heal emotional pain, the outcomes will be beneficial, empowering and life enhancing. Campbell Education does not offer this as a therapeutic intervention, but as an educational skills training approach to achieving success and wellbeing.

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