Emotional Intelligence

The difference between empathy and emotional intelligence

6 Mins read
empathy and emotional intelligence
empathy and emotional intelligence

I ran into an article on Quora talking about the significance of emotional intelligence and the validity of the emotional quotient tests. And in one of the answers given, this guy argued that emotional intelligence doesn’t exist, that what EQ is based around is the concept of empathy.

It is funny how many people and psychologists for that matter (I’m talking about Jordan Peterson), have refused to accept the concept of emotional intelligence. Many people deny the existence of emotional intelligence, dubbing it the creation of a popular journalist with zero research and background information on all things psychology (Jordan Peterson, 2012)

The truth of the matter is that emotional intelligence, though a fairly new field of study and research, has been researched upon extensively by renown psychologists to the point of shear certainty of its validity and accuracy.

The only thing that is still lacking when it comes to EQ, is the accuracy of the self-report tests and quizzes that can be easily found on the internet. For Eq tests to be considered valid and usable, one must undertake a test that is certified and given by a licensed professional.

Emotional intelligence skills are the key components to help us counteract the very many changes we face in our daily lives, all of us are affected way more by our emotions and feelings than anything else in the world, we are driven and governed by what we feel, and even though some of us try and hide or run from these feelings, it is inevitable that they are our real problems in life, not our jobs, not our careers and not our wealthy, just emotions.

The biggest proponent of EQ is Daniel Goleman, who made arguments on the importance of emotional intelligence over IQ in his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it Matters More than IQ. Daniel Goleman argued, “People with well-developed emotional skills are also more likely to be content and effective in their lives, mastering the habits of mind that foster their own productivity; people who cannot marshal some control over their emotional life fight inner battles that sabotage their ability for focused work and clear thought.”

A summary of the difference

Emotional intelligenceEmpathy
Definition: this is the ability of the human mind to be aware of emotions, both personal and other people’s, be able to understand them and take action in the most appropriate way to address them.Definition: this is the ability of being able to be aware of what other people are feeling, their struggles and being able to resonate with that and help them in the best way you can.
Classification: Is a skill that can be learned and is a measure of a part of the human intelligence as is the IQ(Intelligence quotient)Classification: Is a sub part of emotional intelligence, specifically entailed in social awareness and social management according to Daniel Goleman.
Importance: Emotional intelligence has been shown to impact greatly on our happiness and long term life fulfillment. It focuses on helping us be better at self awareness, self management, social awareness and social management.Importance: Is a social skill on its own that helps us connect and forge great relationships with people through deep understanding and relations between ourselves and our emotions.

The importance of empathy and emotional intelligence

Many believe that emotional intelligence is one of those made up self help things that people just jump on in order to make a profit and popularize their made up ideas without real proof.

Famous psychologists, such as Jordan Peterson have refuted the existence of emotional intelligence, calling Daniel Goleman just a journalist with no psychology entailed proof to support his claims.

However, through years of constant research and studies done on this topic, it has come to be seen that even though emotional intelligence isn’t full proof yet, it holds a great deal to unlocking the way our minds work, what makes us humans, and how we can be able to better ourselves.

Unlike what the IQ tells, EQ gives us hope that who we are now and what genetic makeup we are born with doesn’t really have to be just who we end up being in the future. Personalities and Intelligence quotient are almost always fixed, you can’t change them as much. This is the opposite to what EQ tells us.

The success and job fulfillment is majorly attributed to your IQ and personalities, by studying who you are, your traits and IQ, professionals in the field can actually predict what kinds of jobs you will end up doing, or the least, ones that you will be good at and find fulfillment in. I guess that is why most psychologists are less willing to let this go because it has so far been effective unlike emotional intelligence which is relatively new and less researched on.

I would say that IQ is the strongest predictor of which field you can get into and hold a job in, whether you can be an accountant, lawyer or nurse, for example.

Daniel goleman

Emotional intelligence is great in predicting your long term happiness and life fulfillment. This is hard to measure. If you ask 100 people what happiness is to them, there is a very high chance they will give you 100 different answers. This is because, even though our species is so old, we are yet to crack the code on how to be truly happy. For the first time, the study of emotional intelligence has paved the way for this to begin.

Through emotional intelligence, you will get to become more through a few common sense steps;

  1. Self awareness – this will help you get to know yourself and your emotions, how they affect you, what you want out of life, how to be more aware of the decisions you make and the consequences of these decisions. By being self aware, you get to notice who you really are rather than what the environment and society in general might have led you to believe, or better yet, what you have convinced yourself to believe. Emotions make us more human than anything else, being in touch with our emotions is the beginning of our happiness and meaningful lives.
  2. Self management – by knowing how to react to our emotions, feelings and impulses is by far one of the best skills to have. Daniel says, “There is perhaps no psychological skill more fundamental than resisting impulse.” Being able to take control of our emotions and not letting them dictate our lives, we can succeed in eliminating lots of regrets in our lives, bad behaviors, impulsive actions.
  3. Social awareness – we humans are social creatures, we thrive in packs and suffer in isolation. We drive our happiness and meaning in life through serving other people and being served by them. We are dependent on each other and need each other. Social awareness entails a lot of things such as empathy through which we can relate to others’ emotions and feelings and be able to connect with them.
  4. Relationship management – social skills are what you may refer to as social management or relationship management skills. This are the skills that help us get along with our friends, family and work mates. This is where a big chunk is gonna go to helping you succeed at the work place and thriving in a society.

The truth on emotional intelligence and empathy

The reason why a lot of people confuse emotional intelligence with empathy and other concepts is because EQ overlaps with lots of these concepts in the field of psychology and cognitive functions.

Some have argued that emotional intelligence is basically the trait of conscientiousness, agreebleness or sometimes openness as defined by the Big Five personality trait test, this test is characterized by 5 key components that include; Openness, Conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neurotic-ism.

Conscientiousness implies a desire to do a task well, and to take obligations to others seriously. Conscientious people tend to be efficient and organized as opposed to easy-going and disorderly.

Agreeableness is a personality trait manifesting itself in individual behavioral characteristics that are perceived as kind, sympathetic, cooperative, warm, and considerate.

Openness involves six facets, or dimensions, including active imagination, aesthetic sensitivity, attentiveness to inner feelings, preference for variety, and intellectual curiosity.

As you can see, all of these may be assumed to be defining emotional intelligence, or better yet, are good substitute and definitive alternative to EI all together. Hence, some have chosen to ignore it considering that the Big Five is the most accurate of all the personality trait tests available.

However, what is forgotten is that even though this concepts overlap, they are not at all the same. The personality traits have core characters that can rarely be changed, it all comes to genetics and personality development. Emotional intelligence on the other hand is a form of intelligence that can be developed and nurtured.

People tend to become more emotionally intelligent as they age and mature, and doesn’t wisdom come with age? So it is only logical to state that being more emotionally intelligent is the wisest thing you could do.

dominic nyabuto

Moreover, personality tests and IQ tests only cover specific aspects of our lives, not all of them. These are major traits and skills that are picked from the many character traits that humans portray and they are then used to describe us. These include analytical and problem solving skills and the big five personality traits I just mentioned.

Emotional intelligence on the other hand deals with the most fundamental aspect of our lives, just one aspect, and that is our emotions.

Emotions are what makes us HumanMake us real. The word “EMOTION” stands for energy in motion. Be truthful about your emotions, and use your mind and emotions in your favor not against yourself

robert kiyosaki

Emotional intelligence is full proof in that, by paying attention to our fundamental governing aspect, our emotions, it dives into each and every corner of who we are, that includes our IQ, our personality, our empathy and our search for meaning in this blue dot.

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About author
I'm a psychology enthusiast and a fried chicken lover. I write bite sized articles unpacking the complexities of the human mind. The mission is to advocate for what's more important in life - the pursuit of the truth and the highest good one can do with that truth - for themselves, the people around them and the society as a whole.
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