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The Five Pillars of Emotional Intelligence

written byErickson Coaching Internationalon 08/08/2016

Since first being coined in the 1990s, Emotional Intelligence (EI) has been recognized and proven to be a major factor that determines one's success. In some cases, one's Emotional Quotient (EQ) can indeed be more important than one's Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Studies have shown the ability of Emotional Intelligence to improve academic as well as professional achievements.

Today, EI is synonymous with success in business and academic realms. Yet, its benefits are not limited to professional achievements and business environments. Emotional Intelligence can improve life quality in a broader spectrum and can make life more enjoyable. Before we can understand EI's benefits and how to implement them in our lives, it is helpful to get more insight about the qualities that Emotional Intelligence brings to our lives.  

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As Daniel Goleman wrote in his books "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ" and "Working with Emotional Intelligence" there are five distinct categories, or pillars, of Emotional Intelligence:  

  1. Self Awareness An emotionally intelligent person understands their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as how to act accordingly. This quality brings out confidence, without materializing over-confidence or on the other hand, low self-esteem. People with a high EQ handle criticism better, and can use their EQ to better introspect and enhance their lives.
  1. Self-Regulation To live without feeling is death. To live engulfed by feeling is infancy. An emotionally intelligent person can restrain and control their feelings and emotions appropriately for different situations. This is not the same as hiding or burying feelings inside. A person with a high EQ can healthily express their emotion with restraint and control.
  1. Motivation Motivation is one of the biggest influences on both one's career and life in general. Healthy self-motivation can lead to better reactions to failures and disappointments, facing them with optimism and perseverance.
  1. Empathy A healthy amount of empathy can improve one's life quality significantly, allowing better connections to people on an emotional level. Newer business studies also suggests that leaders with better empathy and serving natures build stronger and more sustainable leadership.
  1. People Skills A person with good people skills enjoys being around others. They are also likable by others. Connections to and communication with other human beings are among the main fundamentals of happiness.

How then, can these five qualities improve our lives, and how can Emotional Intelligence make life more enjoyable? Improving in the areas of the five pillars of emotional intelligence can greatly enhance:  

Family and Interpersonal Dynamics

Increasing self-awareness will result in better thoughts, behaviors, and feelings toward others. This will lead to enhanced social awareness, improving the quality of family, friendship, and romantic relationships. By better understanding ourselves, we can understand others better. Increasing self-restraint leads to better control of emotion, which in turn can improve personal and interpersonal relationships. This has been proven to increase not only happiness but the probability of success. Problems with relationships are a major cause of stress. Having better relationships will produce a better quality of life.  

Physical and Emotional Health

Research and studies suggest that the majority of physical diseases are stress related. Depression is a phenomenon that has become increasingly more dangerous with each passing year, and has been the cause of many broken marriages, detrimental childhood experiences, and even suicides. Improving our Emotional Intelligence, as mentioned, will reduce the likelihood of stress and depression, leading to a healthier life, both physically and emotionally.  

Better Definition of Purpose

Confusion regarding one's life purpose is a major, if not the most influential cause of depression and stress. Human beings fear the unknown. Maintaining a healthy balance between ambition and realistic expectations is surprisingly hard for some people. Better self-awareness leads to a clearer understanding of one's own strengths and can help better define a realistic life purpose.  


Although this article discusses the benefits of Emotional Intelligence beyond achievements, we can't deny the fact that success is a major cause of happiness and life quality. Emotional intelligence has been proven to improve one's chance for success in academic, professional, and personal areas, and is arguably more important than IQ as an influencer of success. Leading a successful life in a healthy way with a clear life-purpose certainly makes Emotional Intelligence worth pursuing.  

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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