What if there was a tool that could help countries avoid war and heal post-conflict, help communities work more closely together and help people have better interpersonal relationships, care more about their environment and be better global citizens?  This tool already exists – it's called Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ). There are many definitions of Emotional Intelligence, but broadly EI is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in an effective and positive way. In this week-long series, UNAI will explore the many aspects of Emotional Intelligence and how it can be applied in diverse settings and taught to anyone to help build empathy and achieve a better world. 

Since the turn of the 20th century Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, was thought to be the defining measure of cognitive ability.  IQ tests have been used for educational placement, evaluation of job applicants and assessment of intellectual disability. For the most part, IQ was considered a heritable trait and not something you could easily increase. But in the 1960s the first reference to something called Emotional Quotient (EQ), or Emotional Intelligence (EI), appeared. There are many elements of emotional intelligence, but it includes being self-aware: recognizing, understanding and managing one's emotions.  It also includes the ability to recognize and respond appropriately to the feelings of others, including empathy.

Studies conducted in the United States on Emotional Intelligence have shown that people with a higher Emotional Quotient (EQ) report fewer physical ailments, less anxiety and depression, and greater use of active coping strategies for problem-solving. Emotionally intelligent people recognize their strengths and weaknesses, know how to manage stress, can work well with others, are socially aware and develop strategies to help them reach their goals in life, all of which contribute to greater levels of happiness.  

These skills can be applied to a variety of settings, from everyday life to the workplace, and taught just like any other skill. Studies have shown that EQ can be improved and emotional intelligence can be taught in classes the same as math, English, science or any other skill or subject. Research findings from hundreds of controlled studies indicate that teaching emotional intelligence improves students' social-emotional skills, attitudes about self and others, connection to school, academic achievement and positive social behavior while reducing behavioral problems including aggression, bullying, drug use and dropout rates.

The first interview in our series on Emotional Intelligence is with Dr. Goleman is a pioneer in the field of Emotional Intelligence and his 1995 book of the same name is considered a foundational text in the field. As a science journalist Goleman reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for many years. His research has redefined the way we view intelligence, what makes for a holistic person and what skills are important for people to have fulfilling lives.  Goleman is a co-founder of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (www.casel.org), at the University of Illinois at Chicago. CASEL's mission centers on bringing evidence-based programs in emotional literacy to schools worldwide.

In his interview, Dr. Goleman talks about the components of his model of Emotional Intelligence, how leaders could benefit from implementing this tool in their workplace and how Emotional Intelligence can help people who have experienced trauma recover.   

On Friday, 17 May Dr. Goleman will be speaking at half-day conference on using Emotional Intelligence to achieve the SDGs from 10am-2pm in the ECOSOC Chamber at UNHQ in New York. You can watch the conference live or on demand at webcast.un.org.

The following resources provide more information on Emotional Intelligence and its implementation into education:

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ (Amazon)

Daniel Goleman´s website

- Daniel Goleman´s TED talk


- Six Seconds – The Emotional Intelligence Network

Unlocking your Emotions to Achieve the SDGs: Emotional Intelligence

Unlocking your Emotions to Achieve the SDGs: Emotional Intelligence with Daniel Goleman