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Emotional intelligence: your quick-reference pocket guide

Emotional intelligence is a skill. Several skills, actually. Learn the five components of EQ, and take note of your strengths, and what you may need to work on.

Last updated

23 Aug 2022

Reading time

4 min


Emotional intelligence is a skill. Several skills, actually. Learn the five components of EQ, and take note of your strengths, and what you may need to work on.

In a recent interview, Dr. Hayley Lewis introduced us to five key characteristics of emotional intelligence based on the work of psychologist Daniel Goleman.

As she discusses, high emotional intelligence—or EQ—predicts leadership effectiveness and is strongly correlated with leadership behaviors of senior managers. She also gave us some tips for how to improve these skills, along with this illustration of the components and their key characteristics. 

#Sketchnote by Dr. Hayley Lewis @haypsych
Sketchnote by Dr. Hayley Lewis @haypsych

Since EQ is so important for navigating the workplace, we’ve turned this into a quick-reference pocket guide to help you keep your own emotional intelligence top of mind. 

As you look down this list, take mental note of your strengths and weaknesses across these items. How well would you rate yourself on each of these components? (super meta: by doing this, you’re developing your self-awareness skills, part of emotional intelligence 🤯)


1. Self-awareness

This is about knowing yourself

According to Dr. Lewis, self-awareness is the "ability to look inside and reflect upon who we are, our internal emotions, our strengths, our weaknesses—and acknowledging those head-on." 


  • Accurate self-assessment: are you good at this? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What could you improve?

  • Emotional awareness: how are you feeling right now?

2. Self-regulation

This is about managing yourself

"Self-regulation revolves around our ability to control our reactions and responses," Dr. Lewis tells us.


  • Adaptability: can you maneuver through changing environments?

  • Conscientiousness: are you aware of the world around you? Do you understand how your actions influence the world around you?

  • Trustworthiness: can people trust that you’ll do what you’ll say?

  • Self-control: can you keep emotions at bay? Can you control your impulses and quick reactions?

3. Empathy

This is about being aware of others

Empathy is the ability to understand how others are feeling, see things from others' perspectives, and pivot your actions and responses based on this information.


  • Understanding others: do you know how they’re feeling? What motivates them, and what do they struggle with? How can you best interact to achieve desired outcomes?

  • Developing others: do you know what others need to improve? Can you point them in the right direction?

  • Service orientation: do you understand how your actions affect others? Do you see others’ needs and pains and want to help?

  • Leveraging diversity: do you see strength in differences? Do you embrace cognitive neurodiversity

  • Political awareness: do you understand group dynamics and hierarchies? Do you know what motivates different groups of people?

And it’s not hard to improve. Here are three practical ways to show more empathy at work

4. Motivation

This is about guiding yourself

Motivation is what keeps you going. It’s reminding yourself that temporary setbacks are part of the process, picking yourself up after a fall, and making progress toward a big-picture goal.


  • Optimism: can you see the positive outcomes (even if you also see potential downsides)? Do you believe it can be done?

  • Initiative: do you raise your hand to take on a challenge? Do you have the drive to say, “let’s do it”?

  • Commitment: are you reliable? Do you follow through till the end?

  • Achievement drive: do you like to see things get done? Does it feel good to accomplish things? 

  • Innovation: do you have vision, then imagine ways to get there?

5. Social skills

This is about engaging with others.

Social skills are how we communicate, listen, and connect with others. It’s about building solid and meaningful relationships over time.


  • Influence: do people listen when you talk?

  • Communication: do others understand what you’re saying and like what they hear? 

  • Conflict management: do you favor collaboration over winning? Can you cool down a hot room?

  • Leadership: are you comfortable taking the lead? Are others comfortable following you?

  • Change catalyst: can you see when the status quo needs a rethink?

  • Building bonds: do you build relationships that last? Are you that person that people want to work with?

  • Collaboration: are people excited about the next time they get to work with you?

  • Cooperation: are you agreeable? Do you extend a hand to others? 

  • Team capabilities: would people leave you a recommendation saying “I’d love to work with them again”?

How do you think you fare across each of these components? Of course, we all have things to work on, so we hope you find this quick reference useful. Come back whenever you need an EQ check-in. 

And if you want to see why it matters at work, learn more from Dr. Lewis about how emotional intelligence can improve workplace feedback.

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