In 1990, a modern day movement was born through a singularnotion called “emotional intelligence”, which was coined by psychologistsPeter Salovey and John D. Mayer in a paper they co-wrote. The article describes thepotential rewards and hazards when controlling one’s emotions in personal andprofessional settings. The abstract of the article began with the following: This article presents a framework for emotionalintelligence, a set of skills hypothesized to contribute to the accurateappraisal and expression of emotion in oneself and in others, the effectiveregulation of emotion in self and others, and the use of feelings to motivate,plan, and achieve in one’s life. In the article itself, Salovey,who is currently the President of Yale University, and Mayer, a psychologist atthe University of New Hampshire, go deep into the nature of emotionalintelligence, writing that they believed that the regulation of emotion, orhaving “emotional intelligence”, might lead one to adapt andreinforce better mood behaviors. Those reinforced mood behaviors could positivelyenhance an individual’s state of mind and the attitude of everyone around them,which could motivate others to mutually rewarding results.
On the other hand, theyalso believed that sociopaths could expertly use the regulation of theiremotions in a negative way to manipulate others to diabolical ends. The article begins withthe rhetorical question, “Is emotional intelligence a contradiction interms?”Salovey and Mayer explainthe question by citing the views of Western thought that abides by the ideathat emotions are a “disorganized interruption of mental activity.”The pair of psychologists proceeds to define “emotional intelligence”as a subset of “social intelligence” that involves the ability of aperson to monitor their feelings and emotions as well as the feelings andemotions of all the people around them. Through this process ofmonitoring their feelings, the person with emotional intelligence candiscriminate between them, and use them to guide their behavior, thinking, andultimate actions in a way that serves them well.
The alternative would be torelease emotions without any consideration to how they will influence our moodand the mood of the people around us. People from varyingfields of psychology and business define emotional intelligence in numerousways—some say, in too many ways—as they praise its capacity to take humanity toa higher level. While other people question its relevance, and whether it isgood or bad to actively work on one’s emotional intelligence in a systematicway. Regardless of whetheremotional intelligence takes people to new heights both personally andprofessionally, or it is irrelevant to overall human satisfaction, we all mustproperly analyze its defining characteristics to determine if it has value asone of many tools that we might pull from the toolbox to get us through theworld in a more efficient manner.