What is EI? Articles

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« 9. EI Competency 4: Emotional reasoning »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute, accredited MSCEIT consultant.

By answering the question, "What is emotional intelligence" or "What is EQ?"it is important that we cover all the competencies involved, as emotional intelligence can be divided into several skill subsets.

One of these is the ability to reason with and think about emotions and to use this skill to guide our decision making and problem solving.

Everyone in business has to make decisions and to make decisions about people - so this is an important skill to have.

All models of emotional intelligence cover some aspect of this, with the Genos Emotional Intelligence model, for example, including "emotional reasoning" as the fourth of their seven dimensions of emotional intelligence, and Mayer and Salovey having a branch called "Facilitating thought".

I personally prefer the term "reasoning with emotions", instead of "emotional reasoning" which may be misinterpreted as making emotional decisions. That is not what this, or any of the dimensions, are about. In the earlier version of the Genos EI model this dimension was called "Emotions direct cognition".

This dimension of emotional intelligence is fundamentally important in decision making, problem solving, creative thinking, self-management and the management of others.

Your abilities on this dimension will be influenced by your other emotional intelligence skills. For example, you will need to have skills in the emotional awareness of others in order to factor accurate information about other people into your decision making.

Want to do the MSCEIT to measure your emotional intelligence? It is the gold-standard ability measure. To find out how to take the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence-Test and gain feedback on the results from our Director, emotional intelligence specialist, Rachel Green, click here

Further resources on the Mayer Salovey emotional intelligence model.

In this article you will find:

  • A definition of emotional reasoning.
  • The aspects I consider to be involved in this dimension.  
  • A key step to take to improve your skills in emotional reasoning and problem solving.

Definition of emotional reasoning

The skill of utilising emotional information in decision making. (This is not the same as making emotional decisions; that is not what emotional intelligence is about.)

There are many aspects to this. For example, it may include:

  • Being able to understand the way that emotions influence peoples' behaviour so that you can factor this into your regular and daily decision making.
  • Being able to predict which emotions may arise in given situations and how these may change as circumstances change, and to include this kind of information in your problem solving and decision making.
  • Having a significant knowledge of emotions. This is relevant to all the dimensions of emotional intelligence and particularly for emotional reasoning. For example, Mayer and Salovey include in their four stages of emotional intelligence: "The ability to understand emotional information, to understand how emotions combine and progress through relationship transitions, and to appreciate such emotional meanings." This is required for skilled emotional reasoning. If emotions are a mystery to you, and they seem illogical and irrational, then you may find emotional reasoning more difficult.
  • The ability to integrate data on peoples' emotions with the facts, figures and other cognitive data you have collected on a situation so that you make well informed and sound decisions.
  • Being able to determine how you feel about different options when making decisions about your behaviour and actions, and including this information to help you make the best choice. This doesn't mean you make an emotional decision purely on how you feel, nor does it mean you make a decision on cognitive or technical data alone. It is the integration of the two that matters here. This can be especially relevant when you have very complex decisions to make or are considering aspects such as your long term goals, your actions and your self-management.
  • Being able to decide when to include or exclude data on emotions into your problem solving and decision making, as some decisions require more technical information and others more emotional data.

How high is your emotional intelligence? Take the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence-Test (MSCEIT) to find out and gain feedback on the results from our Director, emotional intelligence specialist, Rachel Green. Click here to find out how.

More information on the Mayer Salovey emotional intelligence model.

Ways to develop your EI and emotional reasoning

There are numerous steps you could take. I recommend you start by predicting how people will feel before meeting or talking to them. Simply ask yourself, "How will they feel if I say this, how will they feel if I say that?". Check to see if your predictions were right when you meet them.

Emotional reasoning is a vital emotional intelligence skill for anyone in a leadership or managerial position when they are making decisions that will affect people, or themselves.

A case study of emotional reasoning in the workplace is here.

Have your emotional intelligence assessed now.

Want to know how high your emotional intelligence is? We can assess it for you on the test by Salovey and Mayer, which is an ability-based emotional intelligence test called the MSCEIT and you can complete it online.

Click here to find out how to take the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence-Test (MSCEIT) and gain feedback on the results from our Director, emotional intelligence specialist, Rachel Green.

Develop your emotional intelligence now

We have many resources plus coaching packages to help you. Click here for the 5 star emotional intelligence coaching package, or for more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.

Develop your emotional intelligence now and lead a happier, more productive life and improve your work relationships, whether with colleagues, stakeholders or customers.