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18 Types of Emotional Intelligence

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Emotional intelligence is the ability to navigate emotion in a directed way. This is a type of tacit knowledge that isn't easy to document, test or transfer. Emotional intelligence is the foundation of social skill and is valuable in a wide range of professions, situations and activities. The following are common types of emotional intelligence.

Perceiving Emotion

The ability to perceive the subtle hints that indicate how people are feeling.


Self-awareness including understanding your own character, feelings and motives. For example, being able to identify motivated reasoning in yourself.

Knowledge of Results

The ability to understand how others perceive you. This may include self-evaluations of how well you communicate your character to others.

Using Emotion

The ability to use emotion to achieve things. This can be directed at yourself such as using positive thinking to improve your motivation. It can also be directed at other people such as developing admiration for the strengths of others to be more likable.


The ability to control your emotions to use them only in a directed way as opposed to letting them flow out in ways that are counterproductive. For example, a customer service representative who can deal with an angry customer without becoming emotional themselves.


The ability to share an emotion. For example, the ability to genuinely feel happy for a coworker who gets a promotion. Empathy is the basis for developing connectedness with other people.


The ability to remain emotionally stable when faced with difficulties. For example, an individual who is confident in their character and abilities who isn't easily influenced by unfair criticism, negativity, instability, stresses, insults and failures.

Understanding Emotion

Analysis of emotion to understand elements such as root cause. For example, a customer who is angry because they feel a rule is illogical.

Influencing Emotion

The ability to influence the emotions of others. For example, if a customer is angry about a rule they perceive as illogical, calmly explaining the rationale behind the rule may help assuming there is a good reason for the rule.


The ability to influence the ideas and actions of others. This can include reading emotion and influencing emotion using non-emotional responses such as an argument from logic. It is also common to use emotion itself to persuade people, a technique known as pathos.


The ability to create and sustain motivation in yourself and others. For example, seeing the humor in a difficult situation in order to remain enthusiastic. Motivation is essentially an emotion.

Social Norms

Awareness of social norms and an ability to conform to them where desirable. Social norms are typically unwritten rules that require an ability to read subtle hints such as someone who has become annoyed at your behavior.

Social Skills

Most social skills require emotional intelligence. For example, listening is more productive if you can read the emotion behind what is being said.

Cultural Capital

Cultural capital is the ability to influence in the context of a society or culture. This requires emotional intelligence. For example, a social situation that demands you control your emotions or a norm that you appear as friendly in a particular situation such as greeting your neighbors.

Emotional Creativity

The ability to create work products that appeal to the emotions. For example, an advertisement that makes people feel nostalgic or a work of art that makes people feel intrigued. In professions that produce work products are based on emotion, emotional intelligence is the basis for creativity.


The ability to make information entertaining. For example, a sense of humor can be viewed as emotional intelligence.

Relationship Building

Establishing and sustaining relationships with stakeholders, coworkers, customers, friends, family and communities. For example, a worker who can detect when their boss isn't in the mood to talk.


The ability to get support from others to get them moving in a common direction. Leaders often address emotion in order to gain influence. For example, a leader who taps into anxiety about change and instability. This can take the form of confidently providing a clear and certain path forward. Alternatively, this can involve promises that it is possible to reverse change and go back to the good old days.


Emotional intelligence can be directed at positive or negative aims and can't be considered a virtue. For example, individuals who are manipulative and passive aggressive may exhibit significant emotional intelligence.
Empathy is one aspect of emotional intelligence and it is mistake to think of these two terms as synonymous.
Overview: Emotional Intelligence
The ability to navigate emotion in a directed way.
Related Concepts

Emotional Intelligence

This is the complete list of articles we have written about emotional intelligence.
Cultural Capital
Emotional States
Motivated Reasoning
Negative Emotions
Positive Emotions
Social Skills
State Of Mind
Wishful Thinking
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