Second Realm

Eric P. Rhodes, Artist

Unlocking Emotional Intelligence

The Surprising Results of My EQ Test Revealed!

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is gaining prominence as a crucial aspect of human psychology, challenging the traditional focus solely on cognitive ability.1 Unlike the oversimplified interpretations often found in mainstream psychology, EI offers a profound framework for comprehending how we perceive, express, and regulate our emotions, significantly impacting personal growth and professional relationships.

At the core of EI lies emotional literacy, which encompasses our ability to identify and communicate emotions effectively. A pivotal component of this literacy is our emotional vocabulary—the array of words we use to articulate our emotions.2 I’m realizing that expanding this vocabulary is essential for enhancing communication clarity and deepening understanding, thus enriching our interactions with others.

In my initial exploration of Emotional Intelligence, I underwent introspective self-assessments alongside the structured Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT).3,4 Despite feeling confident initially, particularly in empathy, the MSCEIT revealed gaps in my comprehension, particularly in understanding emotional blends.5 This assessment evaluates the ability to discern intricate emotional combinations, like differentiating between seemingly similar emotions. A below-average score in this domain underscored a significant area for development.

The quantitative evidence of this deficit served as tangible proof, reinforcing the need for improvement. Emotional blends, an area I’ve known to be a weakness, represent the fusion of emotions into complex states. This deficit has been highlighted to me through personal growth work with therapists and coaches. And prioritizing this aspect over relying solely on my strengths, such as empathy and interpersonal relationship management, identified through assessments, is crucial.

Here’s an screenshot of where I scored “high performance” on using feelings to think better, but much lower on understanding complex emotions.

In my recent academic pursuits6, I’ve learned various techniques to enhance my emotional literacy, including reading fiction,7 journaling,8 and meditation.9 While I acknowledge the value of these practices, I’m currently challenged by the process of adding the intentionality to focus on emotional literacy as part of my journaling and meditation practice.

Nonetheless, I view these efforts as a starting point for my journey of improvement and remain committed to integrating these habits into my routine. While I understand the importance of comprehending emotions, particularly in personal contexts, fostering these deep connections to complex emotions within myself poses a considerable challenge. And I’ll have to work with a qualified therapist to get the best results.

My exploration of emotional intelligence is still in its early stages. This newfound awareness, especially regarding the complexities of emotional blends, presents both challenges and opportunities for growth. As I navigate these initial steps, I’m dedicated to deepening my understanding and application of these concepts, recognizing that this journey is integral to both personal and professional development.

Emotional intelligence isn’t a destination but a continuous journey—one that I’ve recently embarked upon. By identifying areas for improvement and drawing insights from the MSCEIT, I’ve started what I hope will be a transformative process towards greater empathy and self-awareness.


  1. Research by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer in the 1990s laid the groundwork for the concept of emotional intelligence, defining it as the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions. ↩︎
  2. Brené Brown’s “Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience” is a comprehensive exploration of human emotions, identifying and describing 87 distinct emotions. This extensive catalog provides a rich array of words to articulate our emotions and deepen our emotional vocabulary. ↩︎
  3. The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) is a psychometric assessment designed to evaluate one’s ability to perceive, use, understand, and manage emotions effectively. Think of it as an IQ test for your emotions, providing insights into emotional cognition and behavior. ↩︎
  4. Brené Brown’s work, particularly in her book “Atlas of the Heart,” emphasizes the importance of emotional literacy and expanding our emotional vocabulary for deeper interpersonal connections and personal growth. ↩︎
  5. Hendrie Weisinger’s book “Emotional Intelligence at Work” provides practical insights into applying emotional intelligence in professional settings, highlighting its significance for leadership, teamwork, and overall workplace success. ↩︎
  6. I’m currently expanding my knowledge of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in the “Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace” course with Professor Anne-Michelle Marsden at Rutgers University. We explore EI theories, assessments, and practical applications for fostering positive work environments and individual success. Enhancing leadership skills and emotional-social competence models for diverse workplaces. Valuable learning on self-discipline, empathy, adaptiveness, and leadership. ↩︎
  7. In the article titled “The Case for Reading Fiction” by Christine Seifert, published in Harvard Business Review on March 06, 2020, research suggests that reading fiction offers substantial benefits for professional development and emotional intelligence (EQ) beyond the traditional emphasis on reading for knowledge acquisition typically associated with nonfiction. Fiction reading enhances empathy, critical thinking, and the ability to understand complex social dynamics—skills highly valued in today’s workplace. ↩︎
  8. Journaling, a reflective practice of writing down thoughts and emotions, can help individuals process their feelings, gain insights into their emotional experiences, and develop a more nuanced understanding of themselves. ↩︎
  9. Mindful meditation, a practice that involves focusing on the present moment without judgment, has been shown to enhance emotional awareness and regulation, making it a valuable tool for improving emotional intelligence. ↩︎

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