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Emotional intelligence must be learned and developed

What is EQ?

EQ stands for emotional intelligence which is the capability to perceive, manage and evaluate both personal and the emotions of others. For a long time, there have been contradictory researches and theories concerning this area of emotional intelligence. Beginning in the 1990s, Peter Salovey and John Mayer opened the doors for extensive studies on emotional intelligence. They have been some of the leading researchers on the topic. They are the authors of the article, ‘emotional intelligence’ (Austin, 2008). The two have defined emotional intelligence as a division of social intelligence that is concerned with the capability to manage and control feelings. Just as studies and literature on this topic has been developing, so has the testing approaches and instruments for measuring emotional intelligence. Nevertheless, the contents and approaches of the testing methods are not the same. Some researchers and theorists have been for the idea that emotional intelligence is something that can be learned and developed with time. Other researchers have presented the argument that emotional intelligence is a characteristic that is inborn and thus cannot be learned or developed (Humphrey et al. 2007). This paper seeks to prove the fact that emotional intelligence can be learned and developed.

Emotional intelligence is the capability to recognize, utilize, understand and control one’s emotions in a constructive manner. It is about being able to control not only personal emotions, but also those of others. It is about engaging with other people in a positive way such that they are drawn to you. Some researchers who support the fact that emotional intelligence is learned and developed have argued that it is a skill (Cote and Miners, 2006). Just like all other skills emotional intelligence can be learned and developed throughout the lifetime. It is possible to improve one’s emotional intelligence by learning how to properly and quickly manage stress, connect with personal feelings, interact non-verbally, utilize wit and engage in recreation to handle problems and challenges, and settle conflicts confidently and with self-assurance. It is general knowledge that these characteristics are learned and not inborn. To reinforce the fact that emotional intelligence is a skill that is learned, it is important to look at the skills that are involved in it (Kluemper, 2008).

Daniel Coleman developed five elements which are commonly known as skills related to emotional intelligence. Coleman is the man identified for challenging the convectional understanding of Intelligence Quotient (IQ), by studying the working of the brain and developing his findings to come up with the concept of emotional intelligence as it is known today. The five elements are self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, empathy and motivation. The five elements developed by Coleman are the basis for the four main abilities or skills that are studied in the topic in the present-day. The main skills are self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, and relationship management. Self-awareness is the skill that enables one to identify his own emotions and how the emotions impact on his thoughts and character. The skill helps people to identify their strengths and weaknesses, hence helping in the development of self-confidence. Self-management is the skill that enables people to manage impetuous feelings and actions, control feelings in a constructive way. It is also the skill that enables people to take initiatives, be committed, and adapt to changes in circumstances. Social awareness as a skill helps people to understand the feelings, interests and concerns of others. It is what makes it possible for people to understand emotional cues, socialize comfortably, and identify group or organizational dynamics. Relationship management is the skill that helps people in developing and maintaining constructive relationships. It helps people in developing proper communication, to inspire and motivate other people, engage in teamwork, and resolve conflicts constructively. Coleman believed that these are skills that can be learned and developed with time (Humphrey et al. 2007).

It is from the conviction that emotional intelligence can be developed with time that Coleman came up with the Emotional Competence Inventory. Coleman worked in conjunction with Hay group to come up with the ECI that would be used in evaluating and developing emotional intelligence. It is from the development of the ECI that the five elements developed by Coleman were reduced to the four skills. It is from the development of these four skills that the research by Coleman and the Hay group support the argument that emotional intelligence is a skill that can be learned and developed (Bradberry and Greaves, 2009).

Emotional intelligence came up through the need to share knowledge and manage resources in a dangerous environment. Language and conceptual thoughts came up due to the adapting of the brain centers to the task of adapting to the difficult environments. This was the rationale behind the teaching of young minds to concentrate on the emotional element of the mind. There is another group of supporters who argue that despite the fact that emotional intelligence is learned, it is not learned and comprehended in the conventional intelligence way, but at an emotional level. It is not possible to learn emotional intelligence from reading and memorizing the available literature. It is only through engaging the emotional part of the brain that a person can learn and develop emotional intelligence (Cote and Miners, 2006). This type of learning is not the kind that is instructed in a classroom setup. It is the kind that is developed through seeing, hearing and feeling. This category of researchers has identified the significant part played by the inherent characteristic that is biological, in the development of emotional intelligence. They have also supported the idea that intellectual capacity is the most basic step in learning and developing emotional intelligence. This is because learning and development of emotional intelligence is dependent on sensory, non-verbal discovery and real life performance. From this point, there is no denying the fact that there is a key part played by the inborn or biological characteristics, but this does not mean that emotional intelligence is entirely inborn. There have been other arguments in opposition to the fact that emotional intelligence is learned and develop with time (Kluemper, 2008).

A critical review by Charles Woodruffe (2001) reveals a contradiction in the research by Coleman. Coleman presents an argument that emotional intelligence is inborn and thus a biological characteristic (Kluemper, 2008). The argument is based on the fact that children are born with various characters, and different ways of approaching situations. Children are either born shy, social, intense, etc. These are inherent characteristics that children have naturally. This however is not emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is developed by their parents and teachers as they teach the children on how to handle the challenges in life. It is also important to note that emotional intelligence is what is used to develop emotional intelligence. This means that parents and teachers utilize emotional intelligence in developing the inherent characteristics in children so that they are able to cope with life. For example, instead of shielding a shy child by offering protection and caring for it, the parents get to motivate the child to engage in challenging events. The child is thus given the opportunity to learn new things and develop emotional intelligence. When such a child is growing up, he or she is no longer the shy child he or she used to be. The goal of using inherent characteristics is to inform about emotions and allow them to employ them in overcoming challenges in life (Humphrey et al. 2007).

Emotional intelligence can be understood as an innate character for the understanding of innate feelings or emotions. For example, fear is a natural feeling that is designed by nature. When a child is born, he or she has a natural feeling of fear that is designed to assist the baby in surviving. In order to survive, the baby has the fear of abandonment for he knows that his survival depends on the protection from others. The moment the baby is left alone it is afraid and reacts by crying. It is also always afraid of being taken from the care of its parents. It is thus natural for them to feel afraid when they are taken by strangers. From this point of view, emotional intelligence is defined as the natural potential to have feelings, communicate, identify, control, manage, comprehend and explain emotions (Mayer, Salovey and Caruso, 2008). This argument is based on the claim that babies have the ability to experience all the elements in the definition. They feel emotions by experiencing fear in ensuring their survival. They are able to use emotions, where a baby uses fear for the reaction required in given circumstances. They are in a position to communicate emotions. This is by crying or screaming when they experience fear. A baby cannot recognize the emotions of other people. For example, a baby is in a position to tell when the father is annoyed. This is the argument in support of the idea that emotional intelligence is inherent, but just as earlier discussed, these are innate characteristics that are the basis for developing emotional intelligence (Bradberry and Greaves, 2009). It is thus a fact that emotional intelligence is a skill that is learned and develops with time.

Conclusion

This paper was researched to prove the fact that emotional intelligence is not inborn, but a skill that is learned and developed. It is clear that all it takes is information, the will to experience, and taking few steps towards achievement of success. There are a few basic inherent characteristics that come into play in the leasing process but they do not provide the basis to argue that emotional intelligence is inborn. The characteristics are just the building blocks for learning and developing emotional intelligence. It is thus clear that emotional intelligence is not inherent, but a skill that can be learned and developed. It is evidence from the research carried out that there is no agreement on both sides of the argument with theorist like Coleman contradicting their findings. A further research to provide a clear stand is thus necessary.

The paper is an inclusive research arguing from both sides of the topic of emotional intelligence. There has been review of a considerable amount of literature on the topic as can be seen from the number of sources used. However, given more time it would have been possible to carry out a more thorough research.

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