What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the act of consciously choosing your thoughts, feelings and actions to get the most possible out of your relationship with yourself and others. Emotional Intelligence integrates an individual's emotional development (feelings), cognitive development (thoughts), and behavioral development (actions) to maintain balance in one's life.

How Does Emotional Intelligence Develop?

Emotional intelligence develops throughout an individual's lifespan in three important areas. First, by increasing your self-awareness that is based on an understanding of how you function (know yourself).

Second, by building self-management through consciously choosing your thoughts, feelings and actions (choose yourself). And third, by developing self-direction through use of empathy and good decision making to increase wisdom and create a more compassionate world (give yourself).

Ways to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Know Yourself (self-awareness)
  • Self-Awareness - recognize how your own feelings and actions affect others.
  • Self-Honesty - understand and accept your strengths, weaknesses, feelings and personal power.
  • Independence - understand your thoughts, feelings and actions and how you choose to experience them with yourself and others.
Choose Yourself (self-management)
  • Delay Gratification - make choices based on what is "best" not what provides instant satisfaction.
  • Develop Priorities - make decisions based on what is most important at any given time or circumstance.
  • Be Optimistic - make a personal choice to be hopeful rather than hopeless, positive rather than negative.
  • Be Accountable - take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and actions.
  • Develop Social Skills - learn good interpersonal skills to successfully interact and communicate with others.
Give Yourself (self-direction)
  • Personal Growth - work towards lifelong learning and growth.
  • Interdependence - understand how you fit within a larger community, how you impact that system, and how you contribute to it.
  • Empathy - show compassion, understanding and forgiveness to others.
  • Values - understand your personal value system and make principled decisions based on that system.
  • Noble Goals - develop goals that serve and benefit others through careful consideration of the costs and benefits for those involved.

(The above information was adapted from material produced by Anabel Jensen, PhD, Joshua Freedman and Six Seconds, 2003. You can visit their website at 6seconds.org

Recommended Books to Read

  • Raising Your Emotional Intelligence. Jeanne Segal, New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, LLC., 1997.
  • Emotionally Intelligent Living. Geetu Orme, Williston, VT: Crown House Publishing, 2001.
  • What You Can Change…What You Can't: Learning to accept who you are. Martin Seligman, New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1993.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Daniel Goleman, New York: Bantam Books, 1995.
  • Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The psychology of self-deception. Daniel Goleman, New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1985.

Need Additional Help?

Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine Counseling and Wellness Services offer free individual counseling for these and related issues for veterinary students (WSU Veterinary Students ONLY). For more information or to schedule an appointment call or e-mail:

Anne LaFrance, MA, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
(509) 335-4607
135A McCoy Hall

NOTE:  The information contained in these self help documents is not to be used as a substitute for professional care.  Neither the authors, Washington State University nor the College of Veterinary Medicine assume liability for injury incurred by following the information presented in these self-help documents
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