An individual experiences varied emotions. Happiness, fear, anger, affection, shame, disgust, surprise, lust, sadness, elation, love, frustration, anxiety, failure, achievement, etc. are just e few emotions that affect our day to day activity. Satisfaction with the presentation of good work, exhilaration on achieving an accolade, the pride in helping a colleague, anger with not being recognized, frustration with the procrastination of recommendations suggested, anxiety about meeting deadlines are just a few emotions an individual feels at work. The human brain is programmed to respond to such emotions.
This is when an individual’s emotional intelligence comes into play, which helps them acknowledge their emotional instinct and guides them in acting in a rational manner (Management Checklists, 2002).
The phrase “emotional intelligence” was coined by Yale psychologist Peter Salovey and the University of New Hampshire’s John Mayer in 1990 to describe qualities like understanding one’s own feelings, empathy for the feelings of others and directing emotions in order to enhance life (Gibbs, 1995).
They distinguished it from IQ, which determined whether people would be successful in school. The concept of emotional intelligence gained popularity through Daniel Goleman’s books on the topic. It focused on an array of non-cognitive abilities of people that help in adapting to the various aspects of life. Goleman stated that human competencies played a bigger role in determining success in life and workplace rather than cognitive intelligence. However, Mayer, Salovey and Goleman were not the first to recognise the significance of emotional intelligence because years before managers, educators, and other professionals, these attributes were more generic and colloquially termed as people skills (Ruderman et al, 2001).
According to Daniel Goleman (1998), Emotional Intelligence is “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships. Emotional intelligence describes abilities distinct from, but complementary to, academic intelligence.” On the other hand, Dr. Dalip Singh (2003) provides an Indian perspective to emotional intelligence that states it as “the ability of an individual to appropriately and successfully respond to a vast variety of emotional inputs being elicited from inner self and immediate environment. Emotional intelligence constitutes three psychological dimensions such as emotional competency, emotional maturity and emotional sensitivity, which motivate an individual to recognize truthfully, interpret honestly and handle tactfully the dynamics of human behaviour”.
“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”
Figure 1: Conceptualisation of Emotional Intelligence (Salovey & Mayer, 1990)
There are varied studies based on emotional intelligence. Although, these studies are diverse, they are rooted more or less to a similar concept. Figure 1 demonstrates an outline of the basic concept of emotional intelligence, as described by Peter Salovey and John Mayer in their article ‘Emotional Intelligence’ (1990).
“Mind is very restless, forceful and strong, O Krishna, it is more difficult to control the mind than to control the wind”
-The Bhagvad Gita
A Western Perspective:
Figure 2: Components of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
Self-Awareness concerns knowing one’s internal states, preferences, resources, and intuitions. The There are various frameworks on emotional intelligence. However, given below is a summary of Daniel Golemans framework, referred from his book ‘The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace’ (2001) and the ‘Emotional Competence Inventory: Technical Manual’ (Wolff, 2005).
Daniel Goleman in association with the Hay Group identified eighteen components of emotional intelligence that were grouped into four clusters. The four clusters are namely Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management.
Self-Awareness: Self-Awareness is knowing what one feels and how it reflects on performance. The cluster contains three competencies.
Emotional Awareness: It is important to identify and recognise one’s own feelings and know how they affect one’s performance. Self-Awareness is key to realizing one’s own strengths and weaknesses.
Accurate Self-Assessment: Is knowing one’s strengths and limits. It is important for individuals to be aware of their abilities and limitations, seek out feedback and learn from their mistakes, and know where they need to improve and when to work with others who have complementary strengths
Self-Confidence: It is a strong sense of one’s self-worth and capabilities. Self-confidence is a positive trait that plays a large role in personal and professional success.
Self-Management: Self-management refers to managing ones’ internal states, impulses, and resources. The Self-Management cluster contains six competencies:
Emotional Self-Control: This involves keeping disruptive emotions and impulses in check. It is the absence of distress and disruptive feelings. Signs of this competence include being unfazed in stressful situations or dealing with a hostile person without lashing out in return. Employees who possess such virtues try to merge personal goals with organisational goal.
Transparency: Is about maintaining integrity and acting congruently with one’s values. Transparent individuals are forthright about their own mistakes and confront others about their lapses
Adaptability: Flexibility in handling change is known as adaptability. This is one of the most important components presently. An individual needs to be open to new information and can let go of old assumptions and so adapt how they operate. This is very important for innovation and growth.
Achievement: It is the drive in an individual, which strives to improve or meet standards of excellence. Optimism is a key ingredient of achievement because it can determine one’s reaction to unfavourable events or circumstances; those with high achievement are proactive and persistent, have an optimistic attitude toward setbacks, and operate from hope of success.
Initiative: It is the readiness to act on opportunities. It involves taking anticipatory action to avoid problems before they happen or taking advantage of opportunities before they are visible to anyone else. Individuals who lack Initiative are reactive rather than proactive, lacking the farsightedness that can make the critical difference between a wise decision and a poor one.
Conscientious: It includes being careful, self-disciplined, and scrupulous in attending to responsibilities It also involves persistence in pursuing goals despite obstacles and setbacks
Social Awareness: Social awareness refers to how people handle relationships and awareness of others’ feelings, needs, and concerns. The Social Awareness cluster contains three competencies:
Empathy: Empathy is sensing others’ feelings and perspectives, and taking an active interest in their concerns. Empathetic individual sense others emotions through facial expressions and non-verbal modes. This sensitivity to others is critical for superior job performance whenever the focus is on interactions with people.
Organizational Awareness: It involves reading a group’s emotional currents and power relationships. It is vital to the behind-the-scenes networking and coalition building that allows individuals to wield influence, no matter what their professional role.
Service Orientation: Service orientation is about anticipating, recognizing, and meeting customers’ needs. This empathetic strategy talks about a long-term perspective that involves trading off immediate gains in order to preserve customer relationships.
Relationship Management: Relationship management concerns the skill or adeptness at inducing desirable responses in others. It includes social skills. The Relationship Management cluster contains six competencies.
Developing Others: This component involves sensing others’ development needs and bolstering their abilities. It is a talent of not just of excellent coaches and mentors, but also outstanding leaders. It is not only crucial for front-line managers but also vital for leadership at top levels.
Inspirational Leadership: This component is about inspiring and guiding individuals and groups. It draws on a range of personal skills to inspire others, in order to achieve common goals. Outstanding leadership integrates emotional realities and install them with meaning and resonance
Change Catalyst: Initiating or managing change is known as change catalyst. Employees must be able to recognize the need for change, remove barriers, challenge the status quo, and enlist others in pursuit of new initiatives.
Influence: Influence is wielding effective tactics for persuasion. The influence can be in forms of persuasion strategies, impression management, dramatic arguments or actions, and appeals to reason. Employees must sense others’ reactions and alter their own responses such that it diverts interaction in the best direction.
Conflict Management: Conflict management is all about negotiating and resolving disagreements. Listening and empathizing are crucial to this skill. Difficult situations need to be dealt with diplomacy, encouraging debate and open discussion, and thus coordinate a symbiotic situation.
Teamwork & Collaboration: It is about working with others toward shared goals. It involves creating group synergy in pursuing collective goals. Teamwork itself depends on the collective EI of its member.
Figure 3: Component of Emotional Intelligence by Dr. Dalip Singh
In his book ‘Emotional Intelligence at Work’ (2006), Dr Dalip Singh provides an Indian framework of emotional intelligence. He states that emotional intelligence is constituted of 3 psychological dimensions- emotional competency, emotional maturity and emotional sensitivity.
Emotional Competency: It is the capacity of an individual to tactfully respond to emotional stimuli, have high self-esteem, tackle emotional upsets, manage ego, and therefore be able to enjoy emotions, relate to others; have emotional self-control and thus succeed as an individual.
Tackling emotional upsets: Frustration, inferiority complexes, stress, exhaustion, fear, anger, sadness, conflicts, etc. poses as hindrances. By managing and channelizing these emotions in a positive manner, is being emotionally competent.
High Self-Esteem: Having high self-esteem can help deal with criticism and challenges. Optimism is one such way of boosting self esteem. This helps perceive challenges and criticism as learning opportunities and increases confidence, which results in individual growth and improvement.
Tactful Response to Emotional Stimuli: This means being creative and practical towards emotions, which are caused because of the self, and the external environment. An emotionally intelligent employee will try to manipulate the ongoing environment to his/her advantage by reacting appropriately.
Handling Egoism: All emotional conduct is bound by self-interest. By being egoistic, one may have problems in interpersonal relationships. Taking initiative to sort out an issue based on ego is a sign of emotional competence.
Emotional Maturity: The ability of an individual to evaluate emotions of self and others, develop others, delay gratification of immediate psychological satisfaction; and be adaptable and flexible.
Self-Awareness: It involves recognition of emotions and identifying them as strengths and weaknesses. This enables an individual to help identify emotions in others as well, thus improving effectiveness of interpersonal relationships.
Developing Others: By recognising the ability of other individuals, one may involve other peers in projects, etc. and thus produce an enhanced level of activity.
Delaying Gratification: By exhibiting patience and learning to control emotions, one can delay gratification. This helps in judging how to handle the situation more effectively without being rash.
Adaptability and Flexibility: Knowing when and how to make decisions are essential emotional skills. Adapting to the situation in accordance is extremely important. It is also very important to be flexible during various situations
Emotional Sensitivity: Sensitivity is ability to respond to affective changes in your interpersonal environment. Emotional sensitivity constitutes understanding the threshold of emotional arousal, managing the immediate environment and creating a comfortable environment within a group.
Understanding the Threshold of Emotion Arousal: It is important to understand the relationship between feelings and action. One must understand the cause behind the emotion.
Empathy: Empathy is the ability to sense the feelings of others. It helps share and accept another persons feelings. By having empathy one can distinguish between own personal judgements and reactions and the emotions of others.
Improving Interpersonal Relations: By developing interpersonal relations, a positive environment is created. To build such an ambience one must inculcate trust, confidence and reliance. This leads to success in a workplace.
Communicability of Emotions: It is important to communicate emotions. It is vital to communicate emotions with confidence and self-respect. Negative emotions can convey pessimism, bitterness suspicion and inferiority therefore, it is important to communicate emotions positively.
Emotions are reflective of a society’s weakness and strengths and can be disruptive and interfering when displayed at a wrong time. However, when expressed constructively it can play a role in organisational effectiveness. The ancient sacred teachings of the Bhagvad Gita can enlighten an employee to identify, interpret and apply emotions in their personal and professional life.
Hinduism advocates that ‘a man should first seek wisdom and thereafter pursue material ambition’. In order to achieve self-realisation, one must have perfect emotional self-control. The Indian scriptures state that our senses are like wild horses, the body its chariot and the mind its reins. Intellect is the driver. The Atman is the Lord of the chariot. If the senses are not kept under proper control, they will throw this chariot into a deep abyss. He/she who keeps the reins firm and drives this chariot intelligently by controlling the horses (senses) will reach the destination (Moksha or the Abode of Eternal Bliss) safely. The Gita states that renunciation should be a goal of an individual, but renunciation does not imply on shrugging off any duties to society. It further states that work that gives peace and joy is right and which brings depression and restlessness in wrong. An individual with high emotional intelligence can judge right from wrong.
Present day life makes it convenient for people to suppress and avoid emotions but it is important to connect with these emotions, but if emotions are strangers to people, they will not enjoy a rich and satisfying life. Connecting to emotions brings a state wholeness to mind and body and this state is known as emotionally competent.
In order to achieve harmony at a workplace and elsewhere, the Bhagvad Gita identifies the following areas on:
The concept of emotional intelligence and its role in success has been explained in the Gita. It states that there are two paths to success in life- knowledge and desire. Knowledge is the rational mind while desire is the emotional mind. Knowledge helps distinguish between fact and fantasy. Desire is the cause of bondage and the mind must control the desire for objects of pleasure under control. The rational mind faces the object and this is known as the objective mind (Manas in Sanskrit). Modern day psychologists term it as IQ. Desire on the other hand is an emotional response to the immediate environment and drives a person to satisfy the desire. With desire comes attachment, with which comes passion, with which comes desire again. When desire is not fulfilled, it induces anger. Anger causes loss of memory and loss of memory, which causes loss of wisdom n brings ruin. Therefore, one must not desire for world pleasures and suppress their desires. The inner mind is called the subjective mind (Buddhi in Sanskrit) and modern day termed as EQ. In fact, it hints that IQ superior than EQ, contrary to modern philosophy. However, this may be interpreted by saying that certain emotions lead us to depression, anger, jealousy and the wrong path, which should be suppressed, while contrasting emotions lead us to harmony and self-esteem and should be encouraged. Emotions therefore need to be harnessed and directed so that the mind and therefore the individual find’s peace. In such an individual, the objective (IQ) and the subjective mind (EQ) are in unison and the mind is disciplined.
Nevertheless, recent research shows that EQ plays a more dominant role in attaining ‘success’ than IQ. The Gita also defines emotions based on the concept of the 3 moods (Gunas), which are Unactivity (Sattwa- perfect purity), Activity (Rajas- dusky colour) and Inactivity (Tamas- foul darkness). The mind is in Sattwa, it is purified from all Rajas and Tamas and the individual experiences inner peace and happiness. These moods are in different proportions in individuals and reflect different personalities. For e.g. an employee with heavy Tamas (low EI) will be detrimental for the organisation and therefore should learn to be emotional sensitive in recognising the ongoing environment, which will help discard wrong impulses and attain righteous behaviour.
The background of the Bhagvad Gita is flooded with conflict. Arjuna has to fight his kinsmen for justice. This brings a feeling of grave depression, dejection and fear to Arjuna and he begins to tremble with anxiety. In such an emotionally charged setting, his emotions and his concepts of duty confuse him and he decides to quit. He turns to Lord Krishna who tells him that disgrace would fall upon him if he ran away from the battlefield. Krishna motivates Arjuna to get up and fight and made him realise his inner strengths and competences so that he could walk the righteous path. Arjuna then acted emotionally intelligent by fighting the war inspite of his emotional bonding with his enemies. He was firm with conviction and displayed emotional maturity. He proved that being emotional does not indicate weakness. In the same way, employees can re-energise themselves when they are de-motivated because of conflict. The Gita epitomises the mental conflicts and dilemmas of individuals with a purpose and their resolution that leads to affirmative action. Everyday, employees of an organisation face emotional and mental conflict in their workplace. The Gita offers a message for practical living – one of philosophical sublimation and mental transcendence.
Jealousy is an omnipresent emotion that condemns rationality and encourages feeling of aggression, dejection and inferiority. Negative emotions like jealousy also help re-energises a de-motivated mind. The Mahabharata has an array of instances of jealousy. Dronacharya favoured Arjuna over the other Pandavas and Kauravas because of his perseverance and skill at archery. This made Duryodhana jealous and ill feelings for the Pandavas grew in his heart. Duryodhana fell victim to this jealousy and laid out evil plots for the Pandavas which eventually led to the Mahabharat. The story highlights that emotions jealous brings about emotions like hate, revenge, fear, anger, apprehension, shock, depression on one hand and dedication, concentration and motivation on the other.
Jealous brings about feelings of inferiority and ego in employees and if not handled in time, may manifest into aggression, hate and revenge. “Secret hatred turns into bitterness,” says the Gita. Jealousy develops when individuals feel they are criticised unfairly. Emotional competence negates the impact of jealousy, emotional maturity does not allow negativity to develop and emotional sensitivity helps understand the threshold of the emotion and appropriate response to it. Nonetheless, jealousy can be harness to facilitate healthy competition and personal growth. Employees must practice to create positive relations with each other. This will also help become ethical. Peacefulness and selflessness build a mature and tranquil personality.
Dharma is a system of morality, duty, charity, etc. Human beings are expected to follow Dharma till their last breath.
The infamous game of dice in the Mahabharata, where the Kauravas disrobed and insulted Draupadi in front of a full assembly, after she was lost to them in a game of dice, tells us a tale on Dharma. It is observed that powerful characters of the Mahabharata- Bhishma, Dhornacharya and Vidura failed to protect their Dharma in the event of adversity. They stayed silent as the Kauravas committed atrocities on Draupadi. The argument of Bhishma being bound to the throne and Dhronacharya and Vidura duties toward King Dhritarashtra is weak. The ill treatment of Draupadi, is symbolic of the insecurities of women in todays society and the silence of Bhishma, Vidura and Dhronacharya shows the inability of individuals to manage their emotions and stand up for righteousness.
In today’s world, it is not common to see straightforward employees keep silent about irregularities and misconduct in a business. They succumb to such situations and fail to stand up for a righteous cause. By following the righteous path, one will display emotional sensitivity toward social evils and emotional maturity in standing up to them. This would be an emotionally intelligent response.
Believing in the path of action (Karma):
Karma is the belief in which, a persons fate is determined according to his deeds. Karma states that ‘as you sow, so do you reap’. The Bhagvad Gita preaches Karma Yoga (duties towards nations, organizations, family, etc). Karma in modern management can be interpreted as doing the right thing at the right time.
Lord Krishna tells Arjuna, “, ‘Your only duty is to act (right to work) and not to hanker after the fruits (or the results) thereof.’ Neither the purpose of your actions nor the work should bind and blind you. To work is to worship with total non-attachment and selfless attitude”. Krishna also tells him, “Action is better than inaction. Without action, no one can survive. Respond in such a way that it does not bind but frees one from ignorance. Do all work as worship to God. Do everything to the best of your ability; suited to your ongoing environment”.
An emotional intelligent employee would interpret his emotions and follow the path of action. Excessive emotions like lust, greed and jealousy are bad karma. A manager who learns appropriate emotions is emotionally intelligent. Every action produces an emotional effect. Emotion is a motivating factor. Karma affects individuals and their external environment. An employee with good karma increases productivity at workplace and satisfaction of personal life. Being habituated to good karma an individual will strengthen the ability too cope with a situation. To be emotionally competent one must follow the path that is emotionally, spiritually and practically beneficial to humanity.
Tackling emotional upsets effectively:
Emotional upheaval affects productivity, effectiveness and self-image in both personal and professional life. When in exile, Draupadi is upset about the misconduct inflicted on her by the Kauravas and opens her heart to Lord Krishna. In response, she is told to be patient, optimistic and focused towards her aim, in order to enjoy the fruits in the future. It is important for employees to delay instant gratification of reacting to situations and respond when the environment is favourable. The Gita also sermonizes on dealing with stress. Stress is the cause of built up emotions and the apparent inability to meet challenges. The Bhagvad Gita says that stress is born when goals are made without keeping in mind capability and capacity, thinking that one is solely responsible for achieving the goal and by perceiving that without the result life would not be worth living. It says that great intelligence is needed to achieve a goal.
Knowing ones inner-self will help eliminate selfish and egocentric existence and respond appropriate to situations. Pent up emotions must be expressed in a healthy environment. It is very important to express emotions. Good and bad experiences are important in order to understand life. With contrasting emotions like joy and sorrow, revenge and forgiveness, friendship and enmity one needs to strike a balance in expressing them.
By learning to do so, the Gita indirectly directs individuals to be emotional intelligent.
Emotions can be so overwhelming that it may take over human cognition and incognition. This is detrimental. The Bhagvad Gita thus guides employees to manage these emotions. If only we would confess Our Sins, Our Fears, Our Disagreements, Our Delusions, Our Weaknesses, etc., we could be ‘cleansed from all unrighteousness’. Such a situation maybe described as being emotionally intelligent in modern times.
There are various test to measure emotional intelligence. Given below are a few that are more popularly used:
A study conducted by TalentSmart in 2009, shows the link between emotional intelligence and job performance. The studied showed that:
Emotional Intelligence alone explains 58% of a leader’s job performance.
90% of top performers are high in emotional intelligence.
Just 20% of low performers are high in emotional intelligence
Various other studies highlight the importance of emotional intelligence in an organisation. Employees who have higher levels of emotional intelligence are associated with better performance. Research conducted by the Centre for Creative Leadership shows that emotionally intelligent employees have the following traits:
Participative Management: It is important to build relationship skills in organizations and encourage value interdependency within and between groups. Participative management has the largest number of meaningful correlations with measures of emotional intelligence. Employees who are good listeners and consult others for their input before implementing change are likely to be assessed as good co-operators. They are able to find pleasure in life, able to foster relationships, control impulses, and understand their own emotions and the emotions of others.
Putting People at Ease: Emotionally intelligent employees make others relaxed and comfortable in their presence. Putting people at ease is related to impulse control, which is the ability to delay gratification. Being able to behaviourally put people at ease has to do with controlling ones own impulses and emotions. Putting people at ease is related to happiness, suggesting that an individual’s temperament is related to how comfortable people are around them.
Self-Awareness: Emotionally intelligent employees have an accurate understanding of their strengths and weaknesses are thus are self-aware individuals. Self-awareness is related to impulse control and stress tolerance. An emotional outburst is not a characteristic of self-awareness. Others may draw conclusions about self-awareness from how one deals with difficult and challenging situations. Anxiousness interprets lack in self-awareness.
Balance between Personal Life and Work: Emotionally intelligent employees know how to prioritise activities in their personal and professional life such that neither is neglected. Such employees reflect social responsibility, impulse control, and empathy. They give the impression that they are balanced, able to contribute to a group, control their impulses, and understand the emotions of others.
Straightforwardness and Composure: Emotionally intelligent