Emotional intelligence is a hot buzzword in therapy offices and corporate interview panels. In this article, I will explore what is emotional intelligence, why is it so hot, challenges while developing emotional intelligence, and what to do about them.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Psychologist Daniel Goleman, PhD, popularized what he called “emotional intelligence” (EQ) in his 1995 book “Emotional Intelligence.” EQ is a measurement of a person’s ability to perceive, interpret, demonstrate, control, evaluate, and use emotions to communicate with and relate to others effectively and constructively. 

In other words, EQ is responsible for a sense of connection and belonging. It helps us to know ourselves and show up authentically. Without it, we can’t have healthy, meaningful relationships or lives.

emotional intelligence components

The components of EQ are:

  • emotional self-awareness-this is about knowing what you feel and understanding how this is impacting you and others
  • self-regulation-this is the ability to control your emotional expression so you are neither overwhelmed nor overwhelming, nor shut down. Self-regulation also helps you to be effective rather than impulsive.
  • motivation-emotions inspire us to act to reach our goals, make changes, persevere, and enjoy what life presents
  • empathy-this is sensing other’s emotions and having compassion for their experience
  • social skills-this is the ability to move comfortably and effectively when sharing physical and emotional space with others. Social skills help you to meet your needs and connect to others.
corporate meeting

Why You Need Emotional Intelligence

Everyone needs at least a moderate level of emotional intelligence to feel capable, happy, and connected, but there are a lot of other reasons to develop your EQ.

Did you know that according to Harvard Business Review, 95% of people think they are self-aware, but only 5% actually are! Yikes, right? That’s a big gaping hole in our personal development that could be easily remedied! Especially given that:

  • EQ score is four times more effective than Intelligence Quotient (IQ) in determining a person’s success (LinkedIn)
  • On average, people with high EQ score earn $29,000 more per year than those with lower EQ (source: workforce.com)
  • For every additional point you gain in your EQ, your salary increases by $1,300 annually (Vantage Circle)
  • 75% of Fortune 500 companies train their employees in EQ because they know the financial and emotional value to their companies (Vantage Circle)
  • Businesses with managers with high EQ scores have four times less employee turnover (LinkedIn)
  • 90% of top performing employees have high EQ (CIPHR)
  • 7!% of hiring managers value high EQ over high IQ (CareerBuilder)
  • Inc.com says that EQ is tied to happiness.

Challenges While Developing Emotional Intelligence

Clearly, it’s beneficial to have a high EQ; however, what challenges might someone face as they embark upon developing emotional intelligence? 

My Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Group (DBT) actually teaches all the components of emotional intelligence. Here are the challenges I have observed that occur while people are developing emotional intelligence.

Frustration With Others Increases

As we become more self-aware and break out of unhealthy habits, we start to notice how many people around us use the same unhealthy, unaware habits that we used to have. This can lead to frustration that growing doesn’t matter and nothing will change. 

Don’t worry. If you keep going, your compassion will increase. Your ability to allow others to be as they are without needing them to change also increases, and you can have peace in the midst of chaos.

Compassion Fatigue

As you become more approachable, you may attract people who want to lean on you for strength and support. This may lead to feeling burdened by other people’s concerns initially. As your boundaries become healthier, you will begin to value your own needs as much as others and set healthier boundaries. So, in most cases this, too, is temporary.

Not Fitting In Anymore

People don’t grow at the same rate or in the same direction. If you are developing your EQ, but your family and friends aren’t, you may grow beyond your old comfort zone and not fit in anymore. You may grow into a leadership position that is way outside your comfort zone.

Some people choose to stop growing rather than give up their previous life. Others break from what they knew. Some figure out a way to stay connected on a different level. Everything new is awkward before it becomes comfortable. It may help to think that you’re shedding old skin rather than becoming a new person. You’re still you. Just a different version of you.


As we become more self-aware, we may see the horror of the past in ways that we didn’t recognize before. It could feel like a big, insurmountable mountain to climb.

This could lead to depression. If this happens, keep going. We all have baggage in shadow that has to be faced so that it can be released. The only way to do that is to keep moving. That’s also a great strategy to keep from accumulating more baggage. Having an accountability partner, group, or coach can help.

You Want Different Things For Yourself

As you become more self-aware, you start to notice who you are and what you want. This can cause you to want things that you didn’t want before. It can be inspiring. It can also be overwhelming if what you want is far from where you are. Use this desire to create motivation to get you where you want to go.

You Want Different Things From Others

As you become more emotionally intelligent, you want to be with others who are emotionally intelligent, too. It just feels better. Your tolerance for unhealthy boundaries, unreliability, excuses, being overlooked or ignored, and other avoidable disappointments reduces. You may isolate as a result, but if you’re willing to put yourself out there, you will find people who can meet you where you are.


Developing EQ may lead to a lot of questions. In fact, you may call into question most of what you believed to be true. This can lead to a lot of confusion. You might feel ignorant. Your whole life is turned upside down. You’re developing a new reality paradigm. Be patient with yourself. Ask lots of questions of your mentor or other trusted people. Enjoy the ride as you figure things out. You might as well have fun with it.

If you ask me, the potential price to pay for increased happiness, self-awareness, and money is worth it. What do you think? 

Now that you know the potential costs, are you ready to embark on increasing your emotional intelligence? If you are in Virginia and would like to join my DBT group, click here.