More Than One Kind of Intelligence You may have heard people mention "IQ" when talking about intellect and how smart someone is. (For example, "My brother doesn't need to study as much as I do because he has a really high IQ.") IQ stands for "intellectual quotient." It can help predict how well someone may do academically. IQ is just one measure of our abilities, though. There are many other kinds of intelligence in addition to intellect. For example, spatial intelligence is the ability to think in 3D. Musical intelligence is the ability to recognize rhythm, cadence, and tone. Athletic, artistic, and mechanical abilities are other types of intelligence. One important type of intelligence is emotional intelligence. What Is Emotional Intelligence? Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage our emotions. Emotional intelligence is sometimes called EQ (or EI) for short. Just as a high IQ can predict top test scores, a high EQ can predict success in social and emotional situations. EQ helps us build strong relationships, make good decisions, and deal with difficult situations. One way to think about EQ is that it's part of being people-smart. Understanding and getting along with people helps us be successful in almost any area of life. In fact, some studies show that EQ is more important than IQ when it comes to doing well in school or being successful at work. Some people have naturally good EQ skills. Others need to work on them. The good news is that everyone can get better. Unlike IQ, people can actually improve their emotional intelligence — if they know what to do. Improving Your EQ Emotional intelligence is a combination of several different skills: Being Aware of Your Emotions Most people feel many different emotions throughout the day. Some feelings (like surprise) last just a few seconds. Others may stay longer, creating a mood like happiness or sadness. Being able to notice and accurately label these everyday feelings is the most basic of all the EQ skills. Being aware of emotions — simply noticing them as we feel them — helps us manage our own emotions. It also helps us understand how other people feel. But some people might go through the entire day without really noticing their emotions. Practice recognizing emotions as you feel them. Label them in your mind (for example, by saying to yourself "I feel grateful," "I feel frustrated," etc.). Make it a daily habit to be aware of your emotions. Understanding How Others Feel and Why People are naturally designed to try to understand others. Part of EQ is being able to imagine how other people might feel in certain situations. It is also about understanding why they feel the way they do. Being able to imagine what emotions a person is likely to be feeling (even when you don't actually know) is called empathy. Empathy helps us care about others and build good friendships and relationships. It guides us on what to say and how to behave around someone who is feeling strong emotions. Managing Emotional Reactions We all get angry. We all have disappointments. Often it's important to express how you feel. But managing your reaction means knowing when, where, and how to express yourself. When you understand your emotions and know how to manage them, you can use self-control to hold a reaction if now is not the right time or place to express it. Someone who has good EQ knows it can damage relationships to react to emotions in a way that's disrespectful, too intense, too impulsive, or harmful. Choosing Your Mood Part of managing emotions is choosing our moods. Moods are emotional states that last a bit. We have the power to decide what mood is right for a situation, and then to get into that mood. Choosing the right mood can help someone get motivated, concentrate on a task, or try again instead of giving up. People with good EQ know that moods aren't just things that happen to us. We can control them by knowing which mood is best for a particular situation and how to get into that mood. EQ: Under Construction Emotional intelligence is something that develops as we get older. If it didn't, all adults would act like little kids, expressing their emotions physically through stomping, crying, hitting, yelling, and losing control! Some of the skills that make up emotional intelligence develop earlier. They may seem easier: For example, recognizing emotions seems easy once we know what to pay attention to. But the EQ skill of managing emotional reactions and choosing a mood might seem harder to master. That's because the part of the brain that's responsible for self-management continues to mature beyond our teen years. But practice helps those brain pathways develop. We can all work to build even stronger emotional intelligence skills just by recognizing what we feel, understanding how we got there, understanding how others feel and why, and putting our emotions into heartfelt words when we need to. Back to Articles Related Articles Understanding Other People Being able to predict how other people might feel, act, or react is a skill that helps us build better relationships. These tips can help you develop the skill of understanding others. Read More Be Your Best Self What makes people happy? How can you boost your own happiness? This site has information and activities based on the science of positive psychology to help you succeed, make a difference, handle difficult emotions, and build good relationship skills. Read More Choosing Your Mood Choosing your mood means being in control of it instead of feeling like it's controlling you. Here are tips on how to create the right mood to help you succeed at what you're trying to do. Read More How to Live a Happy Life Research shows that just 10% of happiness depends on a person's situation. We actually have more control over happiness than we might think. Find out how. Read More Managing Your Emotional Reactions People who do a good job of managing emotions know that it's healthy to express their feelings, but that it matters how they express them. Get tips in this article for teens. Read More Dealing With Anger Do you wonder why you fly off the handle so easily sometimes? Do you wish you knew healthier ways to express yourself when you're steamed? Check out this article for help with dealing with anger. Read More 5 Ways to Know Your Feelings Better Emotional awareness (knowing what we feel and why) helps us learn about ourselves and build good relationships. Here are 5 ways to get more in touch with your emotions. Read More Understanding Your Emotions Emotions help us relate to other people, know what we want, and make choices. Even "negative" emotions are useful. Find out how to understand emotions and use them effectively. Read More 3 Ways to Increase Positive Emotions People feel and do their best when they experience at least 3 times as many positive emotions as negative ones. This article offers ideas on how to build these powerful emotions. Read More Apologizing We all mess up at times. An apology tells someone that we're sorry for the hurt we caused — even if we didn't do it on purpose. But does an apology fix everything? And how should you handle it if someone apologizes to you? Find out here. Read More Assertiveness Assertiveness is the ability to speak up for yourself in a way that is honest and respectful. But it doesn't come naturally to everyone. Find out if you're too passive, too aggressive, or just assertive enough. Read More Dealing With Difficult Emotions Negative emotions are impossible to avoid and everyone feels them from time to time. They may be difficult, but they don't have to be stressful. Find out how to deal with stressful feelings. Read More Why Am I in Such a Bad Mood? Because of all the changes taking place in your life, you may feel like you're on an emotional roller coaster. Find out more about bad moods and why you have them. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.