Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is one's ability to recognize emotions and emotional states and to name them. It also includes the ability to control one's emotions appropriately and to recognize them in others and make interventions such as calming or redirecting them in useful ways. EQ is one of the important 'soft skills' now recognized as critically important for managers to master. It is clear that EQ can be learned and improved upon over a lifetime, indeed, some may argue that EQ is just what used to be called 'maturity,' a naturally increasing quality of life.

Emotional Intelligence is divided into two dimensions: the personal and the social, each of which has two aspects: awareness and management. This gives four areas, each of which allows for personal growth and development over the course of a career.

-Self-Awareness: This includes the ability to read one's own emotions and recognize their impact; the ability to assess one's own strengths and weaknesses; and a sound self-confidence in one's real capabilities.

-Self-Management: The ability to control one's emotions appropriately and to use emotional reactions positively and effectively. Self-management includes self-motivation and a sense of efficacy in life and work.

-Social Awareness: This is the ability to extend self-knowledge towards other people: empathy, or understanding others' emotional states and points of view; group dynamics, or clarity about how organizations and communities work; and an orientation to service, or making the situation better for others, not only the self.

-Relationship Skills: The fourth area is that of influencing individuals and groups through one's well-developed self and social awareness. Relationship skills allow the emotionally intelligent person to manage conflict, help others develop in his knowledge and skills, provide appropriate leadership, and facilitate teamwork and collaboration.

Anyone can improve in these areas if a commitment is made to growth and learning. Reflective analysis of past incidents where emotional reactions played a critical role can help to provide material for study of one's own EQ and the areas in which one may wish to develop further. After fully remembering the incident itself, try out alternative responses or emotional management techniques in the imagination to find ways that may seem more mature, intelligent, or wise for dealing with the usual conflicts and incidents of life. Reflective analysis and imaging of alternatives, if practiced on a regular basis can contribute substantially to increasing your emotional intelligence, or EQ.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to maintain awareness of emotions and their relative strengths without allowing them to take control. For example, an emotionally intelligent person will recognize that some types of behavior by a co-worker will always 'push those buttons' and stimulate a similar emotional reaction. However, EQ allows one to choose whether or not to 'push back' and if so, how to do so positively and intelligently.

Using reflection and analysis, one can increase one's ability to become aware of the nature of emotional reactions when they occur; to regulate the translation of emotional reaction into action, to respond more empathetically to others by recognizing their emotional states and to intervene in emotionally charged situations to provide leadership towards positive outcomes. Thus, Emotional Intelligence is one of the characteristics of a successful leader in any arena of life.