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50+ Great Emotional Intelligence Quotes

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to perceive and manage one’s own emotions and understand those of others. Exploring some emotional intelligence quotes from experts, researchers, and others can provide insight into what this ability means and how it can affect one’s life.

Research has shown that being able to identify and label your emotions can play an important role in managing those feelings. Giving your emotions a name, which is known as affect labeling, makes intense feelings seem less overwhelming.

These words of wisdom offer a glimpse into what researchers have learned about emotional intelligence and the powerful role it can play in your life and chances for success.

10 Important Emotional Intelligence Quotes

These emotional intelligence quotes offer a great overview of the topic, including how it is defined and why researchers believe it is so important.

  1. “In a very real sense, we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.” – Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
  2. “It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head—it is the unique intersection of both.” – David Caruso
  3. “If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” – Daniel Goleman
  4. “It takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  5. “Some of the greatest moments in human history were fueled by emotional intelligence.” – Adam Grant
  6. “The emotions of man are stirred more quickly than man’s intelligence.” – Oscar Wilde
  7. “Emotional intelligence, more than any other factor, more than I.Q. or expertise, accounts for 85% to 90% of success at work… I.Q. is a threshold competence. You need it, but it doesn’t make you a star. Emotional intelligence can.” – Warren G. Bennis
  8. “Emotional intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. It shapes our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions. Research suggests it is responsible for as much as 80 percent of the “success” in our lives.” – Joshua Freedman
  9. “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.” – Dale Carnegie
  10. “There is an old-fashioned word for the body of skills that emotional intelligence represents: character.” – Daniel Goleman

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

So what exactly is emotional intelligence? There are several different theories about emotional intelligence that approach it in different ways, but many boil down to the basic idea that it involves an ability to recognize emotions in the self and others and utilize emotions to interact effectively with other people.

The following are just a few emotional intelligence quotes explaining some of the definitions that have been given:

“We define emotional intelligence as the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.” – Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, Emotional Intelligence

“Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, and use emotions positively to manage anxiety, communicate well, empathize, overcome issues, solve problems, and manage conflicts.” – Athanasios S. Drigas and Chara Papoutsi, “A New Layered Model on Emotional Intelligence”

“Emotional intelligence can best be described as the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.” – Kalpana Srivastava, “Emotional Intelligence and Organizational Effectiveness”

“Emotional-social intelligence is an array of interrelated emotional and social competencies and skills that determine how effectively individuals understand and express themselves, understand others and relate with them, and cope with daily demands, challenges and pressures.” – Rueven Bar-On

“Emotional intelligence is involved in the capacity to perceive emotions, assimilate emotion-related feelings, understand the information of those emotions, and manage them.” – John Mayer, David Caruso, & Peter Salovey

Quotes About Why Emotional Intelligence Is So Important

Emotional intelligence can have a powerful effect on well-being and success. In fact, some experts have suggested that your emotional abilities are even more important than your intellectual abilities. The following emotional intelligence quotes offer insight into why this ability can play such an important role in your life, success, and well-being:

“Emotional intelligence has a significant impact on happiness.” – Reuvon Bar-On

“People who are emotionally adapt–who know and manage their feelings well, and who read and deal effectively with other people’s feelings–are at an advantage in any domain in life, whether in romance and intimate relationships or picking up the unspoken rules that govern success in organizational politics.” – Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

“People high in emotional intelligence are expected to progress more quickly through the abilities designated and to master more of them.” John Mayer and Peter Salovey, What Is Emotional Intelligence?

“Our emotional intelligence determines our potential for learning the practical skills that are based on its five elements: self-awareness, motivation, self-regulation, empathy, and adeptness in relationships.” – Daniel Goleman, Working With Emotional Intelligence

“When a man is prey to his emotions, he is not his own master.” – Benedict de Spinoza

“Emotion can be the enemy; if you give into your emotion, you lose yourself. You must be at one with your emotions because the body always follows the mind.” – Bruce Lee 

“Emotional intelligence is the single most important influencing variable in personal achievement, career success, leadership, and life satisfaction.” – Darwin Nelson and Gary Low

Quotes About Strengthening Emotional Intelligence

Some experts believe that emotional intelligence is a personality trait, while others suggest that it is an ability that you can strengthen with practice. Here are some emotional intelligence quotes about what you can do to work on your emotional abilities:

“Instead of resisting any emotion, the best way to dispel it is to enter it fully, embrace it and see through your resistance.” – Deepak Chopra

“Emotions are a critical source of information for learning.” – Joseph Ledoux

“Emotional intelligence begins to develop in the earliest years. All the small exchanges children have with their parents, teachers, and with each other carry emotional messages.” – Daniel Goleman

“Emotions are hard, but that’s what makes you strong! Those who think emotional people are weak should know the same emotions give strength. Each time someone tries to break you, unknowingly, they make you stronger.” – Anurag Chauhan

“Your emotions are a guide. They show you want is important to you and what matters to you.” – Sunita Rai, My First Book of Mindfulness

“My message for everyone is the same: that if we can learn to identify, express, and harness our feelings, even the most challenging ones, we can use those emotions to help us create positive, satisfying lives.” –  Marc Brackett

“[Teaching children emotional intelligence provides] greater opportunity for deeper communication and understanding between parent and child, because you are sharing your thoughts and feelings on a regular basis.” – Linda Lantieri & Daniel Goleman,

Emotional Intelligence Quotes About Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is one of the core competencies associated with emotional intelligence. If you are looking to understand this aspect of your EQ, the following emotional intelligence quotes can offer some important insights:

“There is nothing immoral about having an emotional problem to solve. No need to feel ashamed; it is not a weakness. Indeed, it is a weakness to be unable to admit to yourself that you are in distress.” – Wayne Payne

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”–Aristotle

“Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.”–Lao Tzu

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” – William James

“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” –Benjamin Franklin

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” – Kahlil Gibran

Emotional Intelligence Quotes About Motivation

Motivation is another essential part of emotional intelligence. People with a high level of emotional intelligence tend to also have a strong sense of intrinsic motivation, meaning they do things for the sake of doing them and not just to obtain external rewards. The following quotes about emotional intelligence speak to the importance of motivation when working with emotions:

“The most important decision you make is to be in a good mood.” – Voltaire

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

“To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try.” – Rosa Parks

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis

“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama

Emotional Intelligence Quotes About Empathy

Empathy, or being able to put yourself in someone else position and feel what they are feeling, is the engine of emotional intelligence. It allows you to gain a deeper understanding of how other people might feel so that you can respond effectively. Consider some of the following emotional intelligence quotes regarding the importance of empathy:

“The core skill in social awareness is empathy—sensing what others are thinking and feeling, without them telling you in words.” – Daniel Goleman

“The social brain includes circuitry designed to attune to and interact with another person’s brain.” – Daniel Goleman

“For there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.” – Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

“Whether it is rational or empirical, your approach to life must always be empathetic. Emotional intelligence is acquired when knowledge and empathy are combined and applied to situations regularly in everyday life.” – Stewart Stafford

Emotional Intelligence Quotes About Social Skills

Social skills allow people to take their understanding of emotions and put it to work effectively. They are able to use their social abilities to express emotions effectively and interact with others in ways that help others feel respected, supported, and understood. Here’s what a few people have to say about the importance of these critical social abilities:

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

“Empathy and social skills are social intelligence, the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence. That’s why they look alike.” – Daniel Goleman

“Likewise, on the one hand, it has been found that certain psychological variables, including EI and social competence, are related to less psychological distress. On the other hand, the acquisition of emotional and social skills can serve to develop resilience, which is a protective variable against psychological distress.” – Lluna Maria Bru-Luna, Manuel Marti-Vilar, Ceasar Merino-Soto, and Jose L. Cervera-Santiago

Emotional Intelligence Quotes About Self-Regulation

Emotional intelligence also involves being able to control and manage what you are feeling. This isn’t always easy, especially if you are feeling an intense emotion like anger. Having a strong sense of emotional intelligence allows you to control your feelings and express them in ways that are healthy and socially acceptable.

Consider some of the following quotes:

“Anyone can become angry-that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way-this is not easy.” – Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl

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Bru-Luna, L. M., Martí-Vilar, M., Merino-Soto, C., & Cervera-Santiago, J. L. (2021). Emotional intelligence measures: A systematic review. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 9(12), 1696.

Drigas, A. S., & Papoutsi, C. (2018). A new layered model on emotional intelligence. Behavioral Sciences (Basel, Switzerland), 8(5), 45.

Levy-Gigi, E., & Shamay-Tsoory, S. (2022). Affect labeling: The role of timing and intensity. PloS one, 17(12), e0279303.

Srivastava K. (2013). Emotional intelligence and organizational effectiveness. Industrial Psychiatry Journal, 22(2), 97–99.