EQ in Communication

Business meeting in conference room

Daniel Goleman, author, psychologist and expert in emotional intelligence, defines four domains of so-called EI (or, as others call it, emotional quotient, or EQ):

  • self-awareness
  • self-management
  • social awareness
  • relationship management

Within these domains are 12 “crucial competencies” that distinguish successful leaders.

When we work with leaders and emerging leaders to improve communication, we focus on three main elements:

  • crafting the message or story
  • understanding and empathizing with the audience
  • creating self-awareness of voice and body language

Beyond the mechanics of good communication — the tone and tenor of the voice, what to do with your hands, smiling and having eye contact — there is a high degree of correlation between the four EQ domains and the three principles of effective communications.

Self Awareness

Understanding ourselves and our triggers, as well as getting to the core of what is at stake when we communicate, can help us navigate challenging communications situations. 

Self Management

In communicating, it is important to maintain composure even under challenging questioning. Preparation and prediction can help avoid being surprised by tough questions, so we can avoid overreacting to them.

Social Awareness

Social awareness includes empathy, a deep understanding of how an audience may process, understand and make sense of the information. Too often, emerging leaders may focus their entire strategy on what they want to say. They might not invest the necessary time or energy on understanding the context in which they are communicating. 

Relationship Management

Communication is nothing if not about establishing, reinforcing or repairing relationships. Only through positive relationships can we persuade or influence others.


Emotional intelligence has been established as a key distinguishing factor in effective leadership and high performance. Very often, the competencies of EQ are most visible in how leaders communicate.

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