Emotional and Social Intelligence

Emotional and Social Intelligence

Once again, I took another course on Coursera about emotional and social intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to be aware of your own emotions and others in the moment but also using that awareness to manage yourself and your relationships. Emotional intelligence is about the present and is related to emotions and feelings. Social intelligence (SI) is about the future, figuring out the best way to get along and to come out of the situation with a favorable outcome. Emotional and social intelligence (ESI) competencies are linked to motivation, self-awareness, self-management and relationship management. Even though IQ gets fixed early in life, ESI can be learned and improved over time.

Four premises of emotional intelligence are operated upon:

1. Our emotions strongly influence our perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, and decisions. 2. We are hard-wired to respond to the world emotionally first, and cognitively second. Your emotional reactions to anything come before you even have a chance to respond. It isn’t possible to leave your emotions out of the equation. Success is a matter of learning to manage your emotions.

3. All other factors being equal, people with greater awareness of and control over their emotions are more successful than people who discount their emotions.

4. People can develop more emotional awareness and greater ability to manage their emotions.

A lack of ESI looks like:

– get into a lot of arguments

– feel others are overly sensitive

– struggle to see other points of view

– have emotional outbursts

– disengage or leave a heated environment.

Emotional competency is a learned capability based on EQ that results in outstanding performance at work.

Emotional competency has five capabilities:

1. Motivation: achievement, drive, commitment, initiative and optimism.

2. Self-awareness: emotional awareness, accurate self-assessment and self-confidence.

3. Self-regulation: self-control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability and innovation.

4. Empathy: understanding others, developing others, having a service orientation, leveraging diversity and deep sense of political acumen.

5. Social skills: influence, communication, conflict management, leadership skills, change catalyst, building bonds, collaboration, cooperation and team capabilities.

ESI in the workplace stats:

– 70% of the reasons for losing a customer are ESI related

– 59% of workers report they don’t receive recognition for a job well done

– 75% of workers say they don’t find management’s leadership style inspiring.

– 50% of the time wasted in the workplace is due to the lack of thrust

– 85% of workers report they could work more effectively

– 80% of Americans don’t look forward to going to work.

ESI impacts:

– ESI is greater than 85% of what enables star performers to develop

– ESI allows to think clearly under pressure and eliminate time waste by anger, fear and anxiety

– ESI is 2X as important as technical and cognitive skills combined

– responsible for 58% of job performance

– accounts for 90% of promotions in an organization

ESI and teams:

– sensing other’s development needs

– able to persuade others

– resolve disagreements

– collaborating on shared goals

– drives performance and delivers exceptional results

ESI key traits and characteristics:

– conscientiousness: the tendency to be diligent, hard working, and to control your impulses

– extroversion: more open and better at establishing relationships with others

– ability emotional intelligence: express emotions, empathize with others and combine emotions with reason

– cognitive ability: the overlap between IQ and EQ

– self-efficacy and self-rated performance: confidence in the ability to cope with the demands of the job.

Leaders and employees that demonstrate high EQ:

– Navigate not just motivating and empowering employees and team members, but also navigating complex and challenging decision making with the mastery of emotional response.

– Are realistic but not negative and overcome with their emotions

– Are enthusiastic and confident in themselves and the team

– Demonstrate trust and respect

– Are Communicative and Cooperative

– Volunteer for assignments and decisions

– Include and engage others as much as possible

– Share openly with the team

– Demonstrate Empathy

– Actively Listen

– Are flexible

– Develop their teams 

Low EQ may show up as:

– Emotional outbursts, typically out of proportion to the situation at hand.

– Not listening to others.

– Becoming argumentative.

– Blaming others.

– Believing that others are overly sensitive because the person with low EQ cannot understand how others feel.

– Difficulty maintaining friendships and other relationships with others.

– Stonewalling, or refusing to see others’ points of view.

We can increase our EQ with practice and self-reflection, so you can ask yourself the following questions:

How often do you act from or demonstrate the examples of low EQ and how do you feel emotionally and physically after you behave this way?

How often do you act from or demonstrate the examples of high EQ and how do you feel emotionally and physically after you behave in this manner?

If you’re curious to measure your EQ there is a quiz here.

Self awareness

Self awareness means:

– aware of level of intensity of feelings

– ability to separate past intensity of feelings from present

– observe self in situations and make choices in the moment

– access and use one’s feelings in an appropriate manner

– observe self, use information and change course if necessary

– focus on oneself and the other

– move between oneself and the other with ease

– value honor and thrust

Self awareness strategies:

1. Lean into discomfort

– do not avoid discomfort, see yourself as you really are

– rather than avoiding a feeling move toward the emotion

– when you ignore your emotions you miss opportunities

– don’t be afraid of emotional mistakes – they tell you what you should be doing differently

2. Know your triggers

You can ask yourself the following questions:

– What emotions have you experienced in the last 24 hours?  

– What situations prompted those emotions?   

– What automatic thoughts went through your mind?  

– How strongly do you believe those automatic thoughts? 

– What cognitive distortions came into play?  

– How could you shift your perspective? 

– What might the outcome look like now?

It’s not enough to know your emotions. People with high ESI have the ability to describe them to others. This communication is key when working with others that are still learning their emotional triggers and how to handle them.

So put yourself in an emotional situation like your partner blames you for something you feel is unfair. Next ask yourself the following questions:

1. What are the benefits of your response? 

2. What are the consequences of your response? 

3. What would be the benefits if you changed your response? 

4. What will you do with this knowledge?

3. Observe your ripple effect

Through our mirror neurons our emotions can affect others for up to 8 hours.

Negativity can spread like a virus. Your emotions are powerful.

The technique is to watch closely how your emotions impact other people and use that information to guide you.

4. Ask for feedback

Doesn’t have to be complicated and other people can give us honest opinions. You can ask for feedback in advance or right after a meeting. To get feedback you can ask people:

How did I deal with you at that time?

Was I sensitive to your feelings?

Tips for receiving feedback:

– Listen carefully and try not to get defensive 

– Check your perceptions and paraphrase 

– Ask questions for clarification; ask for examples, paraphrase again 

– Evaluate the accuracy and potential value of what you heard 

– Gather additional information from additional sources and/or observe your own behavior 

– Do not overreact but do modify behavior when appropriate 

– Say “Thank you for the feedback”. Learn to appreciate the learning you receive from feedback

When receiving feedback the best choice is to leave the personal feelings aside rather than let emotions take control. So after the feedback you can ask yourself:

What can I learn from this alternate perspective?

Instead of focusing on the delivery, how can I use this feedback to help?

Self regulation

Self regulation is handling our emotions to facilitate, rather than interfere with the task at hand. Delaying gratification to pursue goals, and recovering well from emotional stress. Self regulation allows you to choose how to respond to an emotion.

Self regulation strategies:

1. Take control of your self talk

– 50000 thoughts each day

– strong relationship between how you think and feel

– most influential is when you talk with yourself

– internal voice affects our perception of things

– positive self talk takes you through the day

– negative self talk damages ability to self manage and self regulate

– inner voice creates your outer world.

Cognitive distortions

Affect the way we interact with others and are a way that our mind convinces us something that isn’t true.

Cognitive distortions list:

1. All or nothing or polarized thinking: You look at things in absolute, black and white categories. 

2. Overgeneralization: You view a negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat. 

3. Mental Filter: You dwell on the negatives and ignore the positives. 

4. Discounting the positives: You insist that your accomplishments or positive qualities “don’t count”. 

5. Jumping to conclusions: (a) mind reading – you assume people are reacting negatively to you when there’s no definite evidence; (b) fortune telling – you arbitrarily predict things will turn out badly. 

6. Magnification or Minimization: You blow things way out of proportion or you shrink their importance inappropriately. 

7. Emotional Reasoning: You reason from how you feel; “I feel like an idiot so I really must be one.” Or “I feel like doing this, so I’ll put it first.” 

8. Should Statements: You criticize yourself or other people with “shoulds” or “shouldn’ts.” “Musts”, “Oughts”, “have tos” are similar offenders. 

9. Labeling: YOU identify with your shortcomings. Instead of saying, “I made a mistake,” you tell yourself, “I am a jerk” or “a fool”. 

10. Personalization and Blame: You blame yourself for something you weren’t entirely responsible for, or you blame others and overlook ways that your own attitudes and behavior might contribute to a problem.

2. Focus on freedoms not limits

You cannot change a situation or who’s involved. How are you reacting to the situation?

– focusing on restrictions is demoralizing and conjures negative feelings

– focus instead on remaining flexible and open minded.

3. Learn something from everyone

– you can learn with any situation in life even when you’re being criticized or someone disagrees with you

– every encounter is a chance to learn

4. Stop and think

– you cannot stop a feeling or emotion but you can your response to it

– pause before you respond (as simple as taking a moment to stop and think)

– in the face of criticism, ask yourself how you might learn from this situation

Using the pause is easy in theory but difficult in practice because factors like stress or a bad day can inhibit our ability to pause.

5. Train you attention

– focusing on a goal or purpose provides calmness or clarity

– you can choose how to react to negative experiences or stressors

– daily journaling can help to train your attention

6. Talk less and listen more

– become more empathetic by understanding the perspective of others

– don’t always have to agree but you effort will make for a better relationship

Managing Stress

Managing stress should be approached from two different, complementary and interrelated angles: 

1. First, stressors – events or situations that result in the feeling of being overwhelmed or threatened — should be identified and then assessed to ensure that individuals and groups are differentiating between less controllable sources of stress and those that are more controllable, either through changing the events or situations themselves or changing one’s response to them. 

2. Second, for the less controllable sources of stress there are a broad range of constructive strategies for minimizing the toll they might otherwise take on our physical and emotional well-being.

Constructive strategies to use to manage stressors:

– Meditation, massage, visualization and other techniques that evoke a “relaxation response”- shifting one’s “fight or flight” orientation to a more subdued and introspective one. 

– Walking, jogging, yoga, dancing and other “flow oriented” exercise programs. Good nutrition. Pay attention to the foods you eat and how they make you feel emotionally and physically. 

– Ergonomics – the alignment of a person’s body with their physical workspace. 

– Mentorship and coaching that is often included in workplace programs. 

– Enjoying music, nature and the arts. Charitable activities and volunteer work. 

– Teaming up with one’s peers to help with stressful situations. 

– Positive recognition of performance milestones and celebration of customs. 

– Using humor to balance feelings of anxiety or to laugh at oneself.

Default strategies you that may not serve you and you should watch out for are:

– Substance abuse, overeating, gambling, smoking, and other addictive behaviors. 

– Procrastination, excessive time off, and other forms of avoiding responsibility. 

– A victim mentality or, conversely, seeking excessive control of the environment.


Practicing Self-Management – The five key points to help you master Self-Management:

1. Be consistent. Part of managing oneself is the ability to be stable. The values you hold dear should always be transparent. Always changing can not only cause others to question your beliefs, but it can also cause you to become confused about what you truly believe. 

2. Stick to the plan. If you are scheduled to complete a particular task, do it. Don’t just do it, but make sure it is done in a timely manner. It is easy to feel out of control when you disregard the plan you are to follow. 

3. Be accountable. There are times when things don’t work out as you plan, but you have to be able to admit that and then use your flexibility to get things back on track. The ideal result is that you easily bounce back and complete the task, but even during those times when this is not the case, you are expected to adjust. 

4. Educate yourself. We live in an ever-changing world and you want to be able to keep up with it. Don’t let change pass you by, embrace it. Be an avid reader. Talk and listen to mentors and peers. They may know something that could help you along your journey. 

5. Stay physically fit. Many people don’t think of staying fit when they talk about self-management, but it is a very important part of being able to practice the four preceding points. Exercising your body is just as crucial to self-management as exercising your mind. A body that is not well rested, nutritionally fed, or physically exercised can lead to emotional and physical illnesses.


The competencies of empathy

– understanding others

– developing others

– having a service orientation

– leveraging diversity

– political awareness.

Empathy is one of our greatest interpersonal skills because it allows better communication with others and a better understanding of them. Empathy means to put ourselves in another person’s shoes but it also means to take an active role in getting to know the people around you and treating them with respect.

Empathy is a key skill that allows us to resolve conflicts, build productive teams and improve relationships with coworkers, clients and customers. Empathy in its simple form is the ability to recognize emotions in others and understand another’s perspective in a situation. Empathy in its developed form enables you to use insight to improve someone else’s mood and support another through challenging situations.

Empathy vs. sympathy

– sympathy is a feeling of concern for someone

– sympathy does not involve shared perspective or emotions

– sympathy can develop into empathy but not always.

There are two videos on empathy that might really help:

Different stages of empathy

1. Cognitive empathy

– ability to understand what another person is thinking or feeling

– do not need to involve emotional engagement by the observer

– it is rational, intellectual and emotional neutral

2. Emotional empathy

– ability to share the feelings of another person

– able to understand a person at a deeper level

– sometimes this kind of empathy can feel overwhelming

– it can cause an immersion into other people’s problems or pain

– can damage one own’s emotional wellbeing

– we can avoid the emotional burnout of this kind of empathy by taking breaks, checking our boundaries and strengthen our ability to cope

3. Compassionate empathy

– most active form of empathy

– involves not only having concern for another or sharing their pain, but also taking steps to reduce it.

Here is a test regarding your ability to recognize emotions.

Techniques to build empathy

1. Challenge yourself. Undertake challenging experiences which push you outside your comfort zone. Learn a new skill, for example, such as a musical instrument, hobby, or foreign language. Develop a new professional competency. Doing things like this will humble you, and humility is a key enabler of empathy. 

2. Get out of your usual environment. Travel, especially to new places and cultures. It gives you a better appreciation for others. Get feedback. 

3. Ask for feedback about your relationship skills (e.g., listening) from family, friends, and colleagues—and then check in with them periodically to see how you’re doing. 

4. Explore the heart, not just the head. Read literature that explores personal relationships and emotions. This has been shown to improve the empathy of young doctors. 

5. Walk in others’ shoes. Talk to others about what it is like to walk in their shoes—about their issues and concerns and how they perceived experiences you both shared.  

6. Examine your biases. We all have hidden (and sometimes not-so-hidden) biases that interfere with our ability to listen and empathize. These are often centered around visible factors such as age, race, and gender. Don’t think you have any biases? Think again—we all do. 

7. Cultivate your sense of curiosity. What can you learn from a very young colleague who is “inexperienced?” What can you learn from a client you view as “narrow”? Curious people ask lots of questions, leading them to develop a stronger understanding of the people around them. 

8. Listen more. Listen more carefully to what someone is trying to tell you. Use your ears, eyes and “gut instincts” to understand the entire message that they’re communicating. Start with listening out for the key words and phrases that they use, particularly if they use them repeatedly. Then think about how as well as what they’re saying. What’s their tone or body language telling you? 

9. Ask better questions. Bring three or four thoughtful, even provocative questions to every conversation you have with clients or colleagues. Prepare for the conversation to change direction as the other person’s thoughts and feelings also change. 

10. Take action. There’s no one “right way” to demonstrate your compassionate empathy. It will depend on the situation, the individual, and their dominant emotion at the time. Remember, empathy is not about what you want, but what the other person wants and needs, so any action you take or suggest must benefit them. 

11. Random acts of kindness. They brighten anyone’s day and make us feel more empathetic.

More On Listening

“People start to heal the moment they feel heard.” – Cheryl Richardson

“Listening is the art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, and others over self.” – Dean Jackson

There are so many great quotes about listening, probably because it is the skill we all want to see more from people. If you truly want to build your empathy, you must learn to listen.

Why is listening so hard?

We listen at 125 – 250 words per minute, but we think at 1000 – 3000 words per minute. 

According to a study in the year 2000, humans had an attention span of 12 seconds—only 33% longer than a goldfish at 9 seconds. Recently, Microsoft discovered that the average person’s attention span is now less than a goldfish at a mere 8 seconds.

Most of us are distracted, preoccupied, or forgetful about 75% of the time we should be listening. 

Immediately after listening, we recall about 50% of what we hear.

Long term, we remember only 20% of what we hear. 

The Five Blind Spots

1. Assuming everyone thinks like me. Too attached to your own point of view, addicted to being right.

2. Feelings change our reality. (Dis)Trust changes how we see reality.

3. I am too fearful to empathize. When we are upset we are unable to connect.

4. I remember, therefore I know. We actually remember what we thought about what the person was saying, not what they said. We drop out of conversation every 12-18 seconds to process what people say. 

5. I am listening so I actually know what you really mean. Meaning resides in the listener, not the speaker. We pull meaning from our past experiences to help us interpret what we hear. 

Keys to Effective Listening

1. Listen to understand – NOT to respond.

2. Embrace silence. “We listen in order to learn and retain information. If we are speaking, we are not listening or learning anything to add to our sum of knowledge. This is why the first step to effective listening is to stop talking!” – Ken Fracaro

3. Don’t interrupt unless given permission. Ask permission at the beginning of the conversation to interrupt in order to ensure the conversation stays on track.

Listening Power Tools

Paraphrasing – Paraphrasing shows the other person that you have listened and understand what has been said. To paraphrase, sum up and restate the original information. Your restatement should be shorter than their statements. 

Reflecting – Reflecting, or sharing your observations with the other person, can be a powerful tool in your communication. You may hear something that can create new awareness or shift their perspective. 

Ask Better Questions

Here is a list of examples to help you learn to ask better questions.


What is possible?

What if it works out exactly as you want it to?

What is the dream?

What is exciting to you about this?

What is the urge?

What does your intuition tell you?


What is the opportunity here?

What is the challenge?

How does this fit with your plans/way of life/values?

What do you think that means?

What is your assessment?

Fun as Perspective

What does fun mean to you?

What was humorous about the situation?

How can you make this more fun?

How do you want it to be?


What do you make of it? 

What do you think is best? 

How does it look to you? 

How do you feel about it? 

What resonates for you?


What is an example?

For instance?

Like what?

Such as?

What would it look like?


What caused it?

What led up to it?

What have you tried so far?

What do you make of it all?


What do you mean?

What does it feel like?

What is the part that is not yet clear?

What do you want?


What is here that you want to explore?

What part of the situation have you not yet explored?

What other angles can you think of?

What is just one more possibility?

What are your other options?


What is the action plan?

What will you have to do to get the job done?

What support do you need to accomplish it?

What will you do?

When will you do it?


What else?

What other ideas/thoughts/feelings do you have about it?

For Instance

If you could do it over again, what would you do differently?

If it had been you, what would you have done?

How else could a person handle this?

If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do?


What will you take away from this?

What was the lesson?

How would you pull all this together?

People with high skill levels of empathy: 

– Frequently inform and check in with people during times of change and uncertainty

– Promote collaboration 

– Develop all others to their potential

– Develop and retain the intellectual capital of the organization

– Achieve consistently high performance of direct reports

– Enjoy increased job motivation and satisfaction 

– Understanding empathy is not the same as agreement

– In a team oriented, customer focused organization, empathy is critical.

How can you practice and build empathy?

– Look for the good and similar

– Assume positive intent, assume that people have the best of intentions

– Practice a “walk in their shoes”

– Listen better

– Try to identify with what the other person is saying and feeling (perhaps by reflecting on an experience you’ve had that produced a similar emotion in you)  

– Look at situation from other person’s point of view

– Ask, a question is always the answer, if you are in doubt about what the other person may need Ask.  If you are curious about what the other person would do or has done in a particular situation, ASK.  Be open and curious and create a dialog for understanding.

Social skills

This is the fourth module and the last. It starts by mentioning this video with Matthew Lieberman. Pretty impressive speech.

ESI is most useful in the workplace due to two reasons:

1. Is linked to higher job satisfaction.

2. Is strongly associated with higher job performance.

The perspective gap:

– it is extremely challenging to put ourselves into other people’s shoes

– we forget how specific situations feel.

Bridging the gap:

When we want to bridge the perspective gap we need to start with why:

– why does this person feel the way they do?

– what are they dealing with that I can’t see?

– why do I feel differently than they do?

Competencies associated with social skills:

– influence

– communication

– conflict management

– change catalyst

– building bonds

– collaboration

– team capabilities.

Social awareness:

– ability to recognize and understand the moods of other individuals and groups

– about looking outward to learn and appreciate others

– allows us to see the benefits of connecting with different people.

Being seen as open and approachable can help you share more positive personal interactions that stimulate the feel-good hormone, oxytocin.

Oxytocin elevates our ability to communicate, collaborate and trust others.

When we face criticism, rejection, fear or when we feel minimized, our body produces more cortisol. Cortisol shuts down our prefrontal cortex and we become more reactive and sensitive. We perceive greater judgement and negativity. Cortisol can last 26 hours and more.

The bad part is that oxytocin metabolizes more quickly than cortisol so its effects last less than.

To summarize: cortisol reduces emotional and social awareness and diminishes our ability to connect and think. And oxytocin raises our ability to put ESI into practice.

Strategies for improving social skills

There are a couple of strategies to improve social skills. Some of them overlap with those that improve emotional intelligence but I’m gonna mention them too, in a slightly different manner.

1. Observe the ripple effect from your emotions. Ask yourself the following questions:

– What Impact did your emotions leave on others? 

– Could it have changed their perception of you? 

– What didn’t you realize at the time of the event? 

– What could you have done differently?

2. Manage Perception. Reflect on your recent interactions at work and answer the following questions:

– Do co-workers come close when they speak to you or do they try to move away? 

– Do they smile and interact with you or do they seem withdrawn? 

– How do your perceptions and thoughts impact people and their behaviors? 

– How likely is it that you form some of the same conclusions and determine how to respond to the behaviors they are displaying.

3. Know yourself and your triggers. Reflect on an interaction at work that triggered a negative emotional response from you. Use all of your senses to recreate the experience in your mind and reflect on:

– The actions that you took. 

– What behaviors showed up? 

– What did you feel at the time? 

– What type of reactions did you receive from other people? 

– What could you do differently next time?

4. Be open to change. Tips for accepting change:

– Determine how the change can benefit you 

– Don’t assume a need for change is negative 

– Recognize that change is a chance for improvement.

5. Separate facts from emotions. 

The main difference between facts and emotions is that facts are based on definite results while emotions are often involuntary and one-sided. But both facts and emotions can affect our behaviors and change how we act towards others. Facts can drive a conversation and allow people to connect on a logical level. Emotions are involved in everything we do, but sometimes they can affect the impact of our behavior and the information we are talking about. 

Any social situation is most likely driven with emotions, and sometimes this can cause facts to become irrelevant and even misconstrue the information given. For example, a male speaker may not be taken seriously at a feminism rally, or a group full of teachers may not listen to a group of school board members. When you recognize that emotion may be driving the situation, it’s time to reflect back on the situation and rediscover the facts and figures of the information. You may have to be a leader in the group and remind everyone to focus on the facts and save the emotions for later.

6. Build rapport. Rapport occurs when two or more people feel they are in sync or on the same wavelength. Rapport is the basis for building relationships and being able to influence others. 

When building rapport, get into rhythm with the other person on as many levels as possible. Body Language Mirroring: Follow along with their body language and gestures. If they sit back, you sit back. If they lean in, you lean in. UNLESS they are overly excited (positively or negatively), then keep your body language more relaxed to help get them to follow you. Watch the personal space – if they keep stepping back that is a clue.

Mirroring language and seeking clarity: Use the same words they use and ask for the definition behind those words to help you get more in tune with the other person.

Mirror pitch, volume, pace and timbre: Match their tone of voice and the pace of their speech as well as the volume they are speaking. This one works really well in video or phone conferencing situations when you cannot see their full body language. Again, if they are overly excited (positively or negatively), then keep your tone, pace and volume more relaxed to help get them to follow you.

7. Greet people by name. Greeting people by their names not only acknowledges them as the essence of who they are, but also allows you to remain connected to them in more than just a superficial way.

8. Make Timing Everything. When dealing with people and their emotions, timing really is everything. You don’t ask for a raise when business is not going well, and you don’t ask for a favor when someone is under a lot of stress or angry. To practice your time as it relates to social awareness, start working on your timing with asking questions. The goal is to ask the right questions at the right time with the right frame of mind, all with your audience in mind, not yourself. The key to social awareness is focusing on others instead of yourself so that you can be more effective.

9. Be open and be curious. 

Being open means sharing information about yourself with others. You can use your self-management skills to choose how open you are and what you share but know that there is a benefit to opening up that may help you with your choices: when people know about you, there is less room for them to misinterpret you.

The flip side of being open is being curious about the other person. The more you show interest in and learn about the other person, the better shot you have of meeting his or her needs and not misinterpreting them. Just be sure to keep your tone inquisitive and not judgmental.

10. When You Care, Show It!

There are people who do great work around you every day. When you care, show it. Don’t hesitate or put it off until next week. Do something this week or even today. Things as simple as a greeting card or something else inexpensive, yet meaningful, that sums up how you feel are all you need to make an impact and strengthen a relationship.


Thus far we have discussed four of the capabilities described in Daniel Goleman’s model. These four capabilities are classically referred to as the for quadrants of ESI. The fifth capability in Goleman’s model is motivation. This capability is supported by the strategies and techniques you have learned in the other four capabilities. 

Motivation is what pushes us to achieve our goals, feel more fulfilled and improve our overall quality of life.

Understanding and developing your self-motivation can help you to take control of many other aspects of your life.

Daniel Goleman, has identified four elements that make up motivation:

1. Personal drive to achieve, the desire to improve or to meet certain standards.

2. Commitment to personal or organizational goals

3. Initiative, which he defined as ‘readiness to act on opportunities’; and

4. Optimism, the ability to keep going and pursue goals in the face of setbacks. This is also known as resilience.

To improve self-motivation, it is helpful to understand more about these individual elements.

Personal Drive to Achieve

You could think of a personal drive to achieve as ambition, or personal empowerment. However, it is also worth thinking about it in terms of mindset.

There are two types of mindset, fixed and growth.

Those with a fixed mindset believe that talent is ingrained, and that we cannot change our level of ability.

Those with a growth mindset believe that they can improve their skills through hard work and effort.

Research shows that those who believe that they can improve—or those who have a growth mindset—are far more likely to achieve in whatever sphere they choose. A growth mindset is therefore an important element in a personal drive to succeed.

Commitment to Goals

There is considerable evidence that goal-setting is important to our general well-being and that most of us need something in our lives to aim towards. Having an awareness of where you wish to be, and an understanding of how you plan to get there, is a vital part of staying motivated.


Initiative is, effectively, the ability to take advantage of opportunities when they occur.

Initiative can be considered as a combination of courage and good risk management.

Risk management is necessary to ensure that you identify the right opportunities to consider, and that they have the appropriate level of risk for you; and

Courage is necessary to overcome the fear of the unknown inherent in new opportunities.

Optimism Or Resilience

Optimism is the ability to think positively and see set- backs as learning opportunities. Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’ after a setback or keep positive in the face of challenges. The two are closely related, although not exactly the same.

Resilient people use their ability to think as a way to manage negative emotional responses to events. In other words, they use positive or rational thinking to examine, and if necessary, overcome reactions that they understand may not be entirely logical. They are also prepared to ask for help if necessary—as well as to offer their own help generously to others in need.

Types of Motivators: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivators

In thinking about self-motivation, it is helpful to understand what motivates you to do things. There are two main types of motivators: ‘intrinsic’ and ‘extrinsic’. In their simplest form you can think about these two types of motivation as:

Intrinsic = related to what we want to do. To perform an action or task based on the expected or perceived satisfaction of performing the action or task. Intrinsic motivators include having fun, being interested and personal challenge.

Extrinsic = related to what we have to do. To perform an action or task in order to attain some sort of external reward, including money, power and good marks or grades.

Different people are motivated by different things and at different times in their lives. The same task may have more intrinsic motivators at certain times and more extrinsic motivators at others, and most tasks have a combination of the two types of motivation.

Becoming self-motivated or improving your self-motivation will not happen overnight.

There are many skills involved, so try to give yourself space to develop them over time and in small steps. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.