Improving awareness of our
Emotional Intelligence

by Keith Beasley


As I discussed in "Measuring EQ - Why it's emotionally UN-intelligent!", I don't feel that the conventional questionnaire type tests and personality profiles are appropriate to assessing of Emotional Intelligence. On this page I present an alternative approach. Rather than attempt to quantify EI or compare the person taking the assessment with 'the average' of a given population, the aim here is to help you become more aware of EI issues in your life. It's use is thus for self-assessment and self-help rather than as a Human Resource tool. This method does not lend itself to large scale testing, nor to computer analysis . . . but these are, I feel, points in its favour!

The small number of questions is deliberate, since each can be considered a separate exercise which could take as long as a complete conventional test. It is not the intent to obtain a complete or 'over-view' assessment in one sitting, nor to be exhaustive in assessing EI competencies, more to bring to light those factors that are ready to brought into conscious consideration.

If you have any comment on this approach please contact me.



In some circles, this might be called a 'creative writing' exercise. The idea is to encourage you to tap into your emotions, to rise above your normal rational thinking and thus become more aware of the emotional intelligence already within you. The more aware we can become, the more we make use of these abilities and the more important they will be to us . . . to everybody's advantage!

Each 'question' relates to one or more of the accepted key 'competencies' of Emotional Intelligence (for example as described in The New Leaders by Daniel Goleman, et al.) Rather than respond to a multiple choice question, you're encouraged to write freely in response to the instructions. Write as much or as little as you want. You can chose in which order to answer the questions. Take as long over the exercise as you feel appropriate at this time. You can apply the questions to your work or personal lives . . . although being willing to look at both . . . and consider the overlap might prove interesting! There are no rules to complete this 'assessment' and certainly no 'right' or 'wrong' answers. However, the more honest and open you can be in completing the exercise, the more you are likely to gain from it. If you find being so honest hard work, give yourself a well earned break . . . and continue when you feel ready.

Remember that Emotional Intelligence can not only help our work and our relationships . . . it can also reduce stress and help our health. Poor health or dis-ease often occurs when we're not listening to the Emotional Intelligence that is within us.


1. Intrinsic Motivation

Write about what REALLY fires you up, makes you feel that life's worth living. It could be anything: watching a sunset; seeing a customer go home with a huge satisfied grin on their face; playing the piano . .. ANYTHING . . . at work or otherwise. Write freely without worrying about spelling or grammar. Let your description flow, using any forms of expression you feel necessary to bring out your depth of passion . . . and WHY this thing or things are so important to you. If there any many such things, create a list.


2. Self Confidence

How confident would you say you are in your current job/life? Describe in your own words which facets you're most comfortable with and which ones tend to make you feel uneasy. What is it about certain tasks that might sap your confidence? Does this relate to other people involved or to particular physical activities, for example?


3. Emotional awareness

Think about the last time you felt yourself getting annoyed. Who said or did what to trigger it? Had you been feeling irritated beforehand? Was it 'the straw that broke the camel's back' or a situation that made you angry after being peaceful beforehand? Reflect on this situation and write about your perceptions . . . with the benefit of hindsight. Write as little or much as you feel like. If you feel angry thinking about it, describe those feelings in your writing.

Reflect a bit deeper about the trigger. Is this something that often gets you annoyed? Why do you think that is? Do others feel the same way, or is this something only you get angry about?


4. Transparency

In what way would you say you are AUTHENTIC in the way you live (or do your job)? Are you true to yourself? Describe the ways in which you do, or don't, 'practice what you preach'. To what extent do you 'say what you mean and mean what you say'? Give some examples.


5. Intuition

When did you last use your intuition to make a decision? Describe the situation and how you reached that decision. How easy or hard was it to get the rational mind to agree?


6. Empathy

Describe a recent situation in which you felt empathy for a colleague, friend or family member. What was the situation? Describe their emotion and how this was reflected in you. Were you aware of it triggering your own memories or were you feeling 'with them' irrespective of personal associations?


7. Adaptability

To what extent are you prepared to 'break the rules' . . . or conventions of office, family, etc in order to get things done or to feel more true to yourself? Tell a story of a recent occasional when you've done this, describing how you adapted old ways and attitudes in order to move forward.


8. Optimism

Would you describe yourself as an optimist or pessimist . . . or does it depend on the sort of situation? What techniques do your find useful in 'being positive'. Write about a situation where your optimism enabled you to complete a challenge successfully.


9. Conditioned Emotions?

In what way would you say you're like your parents emotionally? Have you inherited or otherwise taken on board their attitudes and ways of behaving? Identify a few ways in which you behave a certain way because that's the way your were brought up (e.g. 'men don't cry' or always being indecisive, etc.). Are these conditioned ways actually the real you? Write a piece exploring what life would be life if you DIDN'T behave in the way you always have.


10. Initiative

To what extent are you able to take control of a situation (when it requires it!) and use your initiative to get things done? Describe a time when you were able to create or seize an opportunity to put your own ideas into action . . . or if you can't think of a past example, write a story about how you COULD do this.


11. Emotional Intelligence

Write about what emotional intelligence means to you - not what you've read or been told, but (for example) 'common sense' attitudes and common courtesies that you like to see in others. Describe a meeting or a day when everybody involved was showing a high level of EI.

OK! That's given you something to aim at!


Thank you for making use of our EI awareness questions. If doing this exercise has inspired you or identified things you'd like help processing, you might like to do a workshop with Keith, where he can provide you with further guidance and support.



Keith has been writing and working on Emotional Intelligence topics since 1987.
He's now based in Bangor, Wales


Go here for Keith's EQ Intro page


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