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Emotional Intelligence – Fad or Fact?

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Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, managing emotions well in ourselves and our relationships (Dan Goleman, 1995).

Understanding people and understanding self is a form of intelligence. Intelligence is not only about memory or being able to understand and interpret academic theory. Intelligence has a practicality that assists people in relationships. EI is a new psychological construct providing a wider understanding of how people relate to each other. Some people may demonstrate great academic intelligence, but they struggle to show a practical understanding of the people around them or have a real awareness of themselves. Everyone is different and it is important to keep that point at the forefront of social interaction. It is important to always self-reflect, consider how you are behaving, control your narrative, have empathy for others, motivate. That is emotional intelligence.

Intelligence was defined by Wechsler (1944) as the aggregate or global capacity of an individual to act purposefully, to think rationally and to adapt effectively with his environment. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is often used to measure intelligence and society uses standardised tests to measure IQ and determine intelligence. People with this type of general intelligence are able to make mental connections to things and have the ability to think abstract or hypothetically. But when emotions are understood and perceived they can be better managed and used to one’s advantage and this constitutes as another type of intelligence; emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence means having control of certain elements or domains, pertaining to self and to others around you. Psychologist Daniel Goleman described key five components of emotional intelligence, these are: 

> Self-awareness– knowing your emotions and how you are being perceived; 

> Self-regulation– managing your emotions; 

> Motivation– motivating yourself and others; 

> Empathy– recognising and understanding the emotions of others; 

> Social skills– managing the emotions of others.

Some of the benefits include; managing and controlling the emotions of yourself and others around you; decreased occupational stress at work with improved decision making; increased leadership ability; increased personal well-being; better work performance; less anxiety and uncertainty. 

Arguments exist as to why EI is important for organisational leaders. Helping leaders to relate to others more effectively; developing better business practices; admitting to mistakes and learning from them; enabling more thoughtful discussions amongst teams; improving customer engagement, demonstrating more customer empathy and understanding customer needs; helping staff and managers to stay calm when under pressure. 

Some studies have indicated that EI is actual more important than IQ because a person with talent or technical skills without the ability to apprehend issues within a team, can end up creating a poor working environment. Medical Educator Dr Lynne McKinlay (2018) argues that EI is not only good for relationships at home and work, but that clinicians and health managers that are emotionally intelligent are good for patients. People with EI tend to have more integrity, resilience, are honest, have high levels of commitment, can influence without position of authority and show positive emotional energy. Goleman (1995) described people with emotional intelligence as having a large trust radius.

Primarily because EI is a fairly new theorem, questions to be answered include: When does EI come into play, at what stage of the human development process does EI start? Does it ever go away with age? Another argument is that the five components have always been acknowledged in social science, so they are not new, the construct of emotional intelligence has simply grouped them together to form a new model. Some argue the components historically were not associated with intelligence. Although intelligence should be looked at in various forms.

Akbar, N. (2004) The Akbar Papers. Tallahassee: Mind Productions. A reader that cover thirty of years of thinking and doing around the question of African Psychology by one of the founders of the African Psychology movement.

Akbar, N. (1985) Nile Valley Origins of the Science of the Mind. In Ivan Van Sertima (Ed.), Nile Valley Civilizations, New York: Journal of African Civilizations. A historical and philosophical discussion of the ancient African foundations of Western psychology.

Akbar, N. (1986) “Africentric Social Sciences for Human Liberation.” Journal of Black Studies, 14 (4), 395-414. An important discussion of the ways in which worldviews inform psychology and the role that an Africentric worldview can play in helping to humanize psychology.

Bynum, E.B. (1999) The African Unconscious: Roots of Ancient Mysticism and Modern Psychology. New York: Teachers College Press. An interesting thesis, which attempts to unify the strands of human development with the origins of the human species on the African continent. A well-written and thought-provoking treatise.

Clark, C.X., Nobles, W., McGee, D.P., and Weems, X.L. (1975) “Voodoo or I.Q.: An Introduction to African Psychology.” The Journal of Black Psychology, 1 (2), 1975. Voodoo or I.Q. is the article that launched a movement. This is the seminal article that literally changed the face of Black psychology. In many ways this article was ahead of its time in its dealing with the importance of African culture as a means of psychological order. 

Guthrie, R.V. (1998) Even The Rat Was White (2nd Ed). Needham Heights, Ma.: Allyn and Bacon A much updated sequel to the first edition, with stories and perspectives from a more contemporary generation of Black Psychologists.

Guthrie, R. (1976) Even the Rat Was White. New York: Harper & Row. A historical analysis of the racist use of Western psychology and the African-American pioneers in Western psychology. 

Jenkins, A. (1982) The Psychology of the Afro-American: A Humanistic Approach. New York: Pergamon Press. A very well done text on the psychological experiences of Black folks in America, written from the perspective of a humanistic personality theoretical base, by one of that generation’s leading scholars.

Jones, R. (Ed.) (2004) Black Psychology (4th ed.). Hampton, VA: Cobb and Henry. This hook is the culmination of nearly thirty years of theory, research, and practice in the area of Black psychology. This is a must have book for anyone seriously interested in the writings of some of the seminal thinkers in the field.

Jones, R.L. (1991) Black Psychology (3rd ED) Hampton, Va.: Cobb and Henry. A very good synthesis of articles published in the first and second editions of the Black Psychology series, with some new articles by emerging authors.

Kambon, K.K. (1998) African-Black Psychology in the American Context: An AfricanCentered Approach. Explores the historical and philosophical foundations of African Psychology, while laying out its theoretical and paradigmatic parameters for and African Centered psychology. Tallahassee: Nubian Nation Publications 

Myers, L .J. (1988) Understanding the Africentric Worldview: Introduction to an Optimal Psychology. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/ Hunt. A theoretical discussion of the humanizing potential that an Afrocentric psychology can have on the continued development of psychology. 

Nobles, W. W. (2006). Seeking the Sakhu: Foundational Writings for an African Psychology. Chicago: Third World Press. This critical collection of essays follows the earliest articulations of black philosophy as the foundation of Black psychology to the development of African Psychology to the beginning of Sakhu Sheti-the ancient Kemetic notion of illuminating the spirit. 

Nobles, W.W. (1972) African Philosophy: Foundation for a Black Psychology. In R. Jones (Ed.), Black Psychology. New York: Harper Row. Nobles posits that there exists a core African philosophy that should he the basis for a Black psychology. In many ways this article helped to launch the African centered psychology movement. 

Nobles, W.W. (1986) African Psychology: Toward Its Recla¬mation, Reascension and Revitalization. Oakland: Institute for the Advanced Study of Black Family Life and Culture. The first text to explore in detail the basis for an African psychology. 

Pugh, R. (1972) The Psychology of the Black Experience. Monterey, Ca.: Brooks/Cole. This text provides some indept analysis on the psychological challenges African descent people confront while living in and growing up in America. 

Thomas, A. & Sillen, S. (1972) Racism in Psychiatry. Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel Press. A classic text by two Black psychiatrist who detail how the discipline of psychiatry was not only biased, but subjectively brutal in its treatment and classification of Black people within the mental health system. 

White, J.L. (1972) Toward a Black Psychology. In R.L. Jones (Ed) Black Psychology. New York: Harper and Row. The seminal article that served as a call to the profession of Black Psychology by an individual considered by many to be one of the contemporary godfathers of the Black Psychology movement. 

Williams, R.L. (2008) (Ed) History of The Association of Black Psychologists. Bloomington, In.: Author House. The text presents a full volume of profiles of African American Psychologists, many of whom were presidents of the national Association of Black Psychologists.

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2.Cherry, K. Overview of Emotional Intelligence

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3.Herbst, H. H., Maree, J. G., & Sibanda, E. (2008). Emotional intelligence and leadership abilities. South African Journal of Higher Education.

4.McKinlay, L. Get smart about emotional intelligence

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5.Mind Tools (Emotional Intelligence- Developing Strong “People Skills”

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This page was last updated on 05, October, 2021

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Psychology Books

Self Awareness

Emotional intelligence means having control of certain elements or domains, pertaining to self and to others around you.

The 5 key components of emotional intelligence.

1. Self-awareness- knowing your emotions and how you are being perceived

2. Self-regulation- managing your emotions

3. Motivation- motivating yourself and others

4. Empathy- recognising and understanding the emotions of others

5. Social skills- managing the emotions of others.

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