40 Emotional Intelligence Quotes & Do They Ring True?

emotional intelligence quotesIntelligence is a multifaceted concept.

Distinguished intelligence researcher Howard Gardner (1999) knew this when he proposed his theory of multiple intelligences.

Many researchers and philosophers concur that intelligence has many components, including emotions. Moreover, the emotional side of intelligence (i.e., emotional intelligence, or EI) is generally believed to matter at least as much as IQ.

This article will dig into quotes pertaining to emotional intelligence, also called the emotional quotient (EQ). We will place special emphasis on defining EI and examining leadership quotes and those by Aristotle and Daniel Goleman. We also provide useful resources for learning more about EI.

So, please read on as we share terrific insights about the essential connection between emotions and intelligence.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Emotional Intelligence Exercises for free. These science-based exercises will not only enhance your ability to understand and work with your emotions but will also give you the tools to foster the emotional intelligence of your clients, students, or employees.

What Is Emotional Intelligence? Top 7 Quotes

Emotional-Social Intelligence


… emotional-social intelligence is an array of interrelated emotional and social competencies and skills that determine how effectively individuals understand and express themselves, understand others and relate with them, and cope with daily demands, challenges and pressures.

Reuven Bar-On, 2010, p. 57


There is an old-fashioned word for the body of skills that emotional intelligence represents: character.

Daniel Goleman, 1995, p. 285

Assimilate Emotion-Related Feelings


Emotional intelligence is involved in the capacity to perceive emotions, assimilate emotion-related feelings, understand the information of those emotions, and manage them.

John Mayer, David Caruso, & Peter Salovey, 1999, p. 267

Emotional Ignorance


Evidence is presented that the mass suppression of emotion throughout the civilized world has stifled our growth emotionally, leading us down a path of emotional ignorance.

Wayne Payne, 1985, Introduction

Expanding Awareness


I want to focus here on what I consider to be the most central, most significant mode of learning involved in the process of developing emotional intelligence: gaining insight through expanding awareness.

Wayne Payne, 1985, chapter 13

Nothing Immoral


There is nothing immoral about having an emotional problem to solve. No need to feel ashamed; it is not a weakness. Indeed, it is a weakness to be unable to admit to yourself that you are in distress.

Wayne Payne, 1985, chapter 13

Positive Results


Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.

Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves, 2009, p. 17

These quotes tell us a great deal about how emotional intelligence is highly interactional, involving the ability to perceive others’ emotions effectively. Along these lines, Mayer (2004) proposes a Four-Branch Model of Emotional Intelligence, which includes the following components:

  1. Perceiving emotion (i.e., the capacity to accurately perceive emotions in facial expressions and voices)
  2. Facilitation (i.e., the ability to use emotions to guide our cognition)
  3. Understanding emotion (i.e., comprehension of the meaning of emotions and the information associated with them)
  4. Managing emotion (the ability to regulate and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others)

People who are capable in each of the above areas are high in EI. Conversely, those who struggle to perceive and identify emotions, or cannot connect them to relevant information, are considered low in EI. Additionally, those who are higher in EI are better able to understand and relate to others, cope with challenges, make decisions, and achieve desired results.

Importantly, as noted by Payne, there is no shame in expressing emotions. In fact, he reasons, the mass suppression of emotions has done grave damage to the civilized world. Although it may be intangible, EI is clearly invaluable to many aspects of interpersonal functioning and adapting to the world around us.

7 Daniel Goleman Quotes & Do They Ring True?

Largely Learned


… our level of emotional intelligence is not fixed genetically, nor does it develop only in early childhood. Unlike IQ, which changes little after our teen years, emotional intelligence seems to be largely learned, and it continues to develop as we go through life and learn from our experiences…

Daniel Goleman, 1998, p. 7

Human Nature


A view of human nature that ignores the power of emotions is sadly shortsighted.

Daniel Goleman, 2005, p. 4

Lens of EI


Today companies worldwide routinely look through the lens of EI in hiring, promoting, and developing their employees.

Daniel Goleman, 2005, p. xii

Social Nature


New findings on the social nature of the brain reveal the need for principals to fashion a school culture of warmth and trust.

Daniel Goleman, 2006, p. 77

Emotionally and Socially Competent


… new studies reveal that teaching kids to be emotionally and socially competent boosts their academic achievement.

Daniel Goleman, 2008, p. 8

Social Brain


The social brain includes circuitry designed to attune to and interact with another person’s brain.

Daniel Goleman, 2011, p. 12

Social Awareness


The core skill in social awareness is empathy—sensing what others are thinking and feeling, without them telling you in words.

Daniel Goleman, 2011, p. 13

Goleman certainly has a lot to say about EI, but is he correct?

Let’s start at the beginning. Goleman posits that EI is not inherited, but learned. There is a great deal of support for this idea, as research has provided many examples of people learning and increasing their EI skills (Liptak, 2005).

In a meta-analysis of 213 schools where social and emotional learning (SEL) programs were implemented, SEL kids showed significantly increased emotional intelligence skills, behaviors, and attitudes, and significant academic gains (Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011).

These findings not only attest to the malleability of EI, but they also speak to Goleman’s quotes about the importance of emotional intelligence in education and the benefits of a school climate based on warmth, empathy, and mutual respect.

They suggest we are biologically wired to attune and interact with others – an idea supported by brain imaging research showing that the brain’s mirroring systems enable us to perceive the nonverbal cues that are necessary for social interaction (Hari & Kujala, 2009).

The literature also supports Goleman’s quotes regarding the benefits of EI in the workplace. For example, in a review by Sadri (2012), several studies show a significant link between EI characteristics and effective leadership and teams.

Similarly, significant financial and performance benefits have been reported in companies with CEOs who are high in EI (Ezzi, Azouzi, Jarboui, & McMillan, 2016). It is for these reasons that screening for EI has become commonplace among human resource professionals (Nicholls, Wegener, Bay, & Cook, 2012).

Considering each of these findings, Goleman’s quotes included here do indeed ring true.

Our 11 Favorite Emotional Intelligence Quotes

Being Smart


In other words, what matters is a different way of being smart.

Daniel Goleman, 1998, p. 4

Impact on Happiness


Emotional intelligence has a significant impact on happiness.

Reuven Bar-On, 2010, p. 58

Moral Teaching


Be strong. Overflow with emotional and intellectual energy, and you will spread your intelligence, your love, your energy of action broadcast among others! This is what all moral teaching comes to.

Peter Kropotkin, 1898

No Learning Involved


I had learned to hide what I felt. No, that’s not true. There was no learning involved. I had been born knowing how to hide what I felt.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz, 2012

Wide Domain Overlap


Not only does emotional intelligence and positive psychology appear to share a rather wide domain overlap based on the way both concepts have been described and defined, but the empirical findings presented here suggest that emotional intelligence has a positive and significant impact on performance, happiness, wellbeing, and the quest for a more meaningful life, all of which are key areas of interest in positive psychology.

Reuven Bar-On, 2010, p. 59

Measuring EQ


The value of measuring your EQ now is akin to learning the waltz with an actual partner. If I tell you how the dance works, you are likely to learn something and may even get the urge to try it yourself.

Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves, 2009, p. 10

Emotional Mind


[Your emotional mind is] the lead system and source of happiness, satisfaction, joy, and love.

Darwin Nelson & Gary Low, 2011, p. xxviii

Influencing Variable


Emotional intelligence is the single most important influencing variable in personal achievement, career success, leadership, and life satisfaction.

Darwin Nelson & Gary Low, 2011, p. xxiii

Facilitate Intelligence


… the concept of emotional intelligence suggests that intelligence may understand emotion, and that emotion may facilitate intelligence.

Joseph Ciarrochi, Joseph Forgas, & John Mayer, 2006, p. xvi

Building Emotional Intelligence


[Building emotional intelligence in children provides] greater opportunity for deeper communication and understanding between parent and child, because you are sharing your thoughts and feelings on a regular basis.

Linda Lantieri & Daniel Goleman, 2008, p. 10

Emotional Messages


… research has demonstrated that happy spouses tend to be better than unhappy spouses at both expressing and decoding verbal and nonverbal emotional messages.

Joseph Ciarrochi, Joseph Forgas, & John Mayer, 2006, p. 258

These inspiring quotes convey the essential quality of EQ, or what Goleman refers to as a “different way of being smart.”

They speak to the beauty of how emotional and intellectual energy are reciprocal, feeding off of each other like a dance between partners.

Perhaps most importantly, they articulate the numerous positive outcomes associated with EQ, such as quality partner and parent–child relationships, career success, and happiness.

EI & Leadership: 7 Inspiring Phrases

Great Leadership


Great leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision, or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more primal: Great leadership works through the emotions.

Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, & Annie McKee, 2013


Emotionally competent teams don’t wear blinders; they have the emotional capacity to face potentially difficult information and actively seek opinions on their task processes, progress, and performance from the outside.

Vanessa Urch Druskat & Steven Wolff, 2001, p. 85

EI Abilities


… EI abilities rather than IQ or technical skills emerge as the “discriminating” competency that best predicts who among a group of very smart people will lead most ably.

Daniel Goleman, 2005, p. xv

Group Emotional Intelligence


Group emotional intelligence is about the small acts that make a big difference. It is not about a team member working all night to meet a deadline; it is about saying thank you for doing so.

Vanessa Urch Druskat & Steven Wolff, 2001, p. 86

Artificial Intelligence


As more and more artificial intelligence is entering into the world, more and more emotional intelligence must enter into leadership.

Amit Ray, 2017



… a team can have everything going for it – the brightest and most qualified people, access to resources, a clear mission – but still fail because it lacks group emotional intelligence.

Vanessa Urch Druskat & Steven Wolff, 2001, p. 89

High Performers


Of all the people we’ve studied at work, we have found that 90 percent of high performers are also high in EQ. On the flip side, just 20 percent of low performers are high in EQ.

Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves, 2009, p. 21

Consistent with Goleman’s prior quotes, these words further address the value of emotional intelligence within the workplace.

According to Goleman, as long as human beings work together, their ability to perceive, comprehend, and manage emotions is vital to establishing high productivity and low turnover.

These skills go beyond a person’s IQ, which will only take them so far. Because organizations understand the importance of EI, they are increasingly seeking employees with the emotional intelligence skills needed to create exceptional leaders and team members.

Aristotle’s Quotes on Emotional Intelligence

Knowing Yourself


Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.




Anger is a gift.


Educating the heart


Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.


Everybody's Power


Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.


Human Actions


All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion, and desire.




The pleasures arising from thinking and learning will make us think and learn all the more.


Experience Feelings


There is no gain in being persuaded not to be hot or in pain or hungry or the like, since we shall experience these feelings none the less.


Heroic Temper


The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.


Despite living in 384 BC, Aristotle had an uncanny way of understanding issues that remain salient today. He often spoke of anger, with his second quote outlining an interesting idea: not only is anger an acceptable emotion to feel, but it is also actually beneficial in some circumstances. While he believed anger to be a gift, Aristotle also knew that there are optimal ways to feel, express, and manage anger.

Consistent with the value of EQ and education, Aristotle expressed the need for emotions, pleasure, and self-insight as key aspects of learning. He knew that human beings are fallible, driven by their own habits, passions, and desires.

Aristotle was not a believer in suppressing emotions, as he saw negative feelings such as pain and anger as inevitable to the human condition. He believed that coping with these challenges with composure reflects the beauty of one’s soul.

Aristotle was likely the first person to understand and speak about aspects of EI, conveying its profound importance for many aspects of life, such as learning, expressing oneself, and managing negative emotions.

PositivePsychology.com’s EI Resources

Our blog contains many informative EQ articles, as well as tools designed to enhance this valuable quality. Here is an example of an EQ article, along with three emotional intelligence empowering exercises from our toolkit:

Practical examples of high emotional intelligence

Our article with many emotional intelligence examples, demonstrates the impact of high EI across various contexts. It contains examples of how EI benefits individuals within the workplace and how it may be applied within educational settings. A case study is also included, along with multiple examples of emotional intelligence as portrayed in films.

Exploring our feelings

One of the major factors of emotional intelligence is knowing and accepting our own emotions and feelings. This Exploring Our Feelings worksheet takes you through a series of guided questions, to explore feelings, understand emotions and in that grow your emotional intelligence.

An empathy story

This exercise is designed to help individuals develop empathy while understanding other perspectives.

It involves the following five steps:

  1. Identify a story.
    It could be a story of a newspaper clip or a biography.
  2. Choose a medium.
    Decide how to tell the story; it could be a drawing, narration or music.
  3. Express.
    Use your own words and style to focus on what this person feels, and am going through.
  4. Share.
    Share the story with someone, and explain the emotions felt and why.
  5. Reflect.
    Ask the other person to reflect the emotions they saw in the story.

Overall, this exercise enhances EI by helping individuals to understand the emotions of others.

17 Emotional Intelligence Exercises

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others develop emotional intelligence, this collection contains 17 validated EI tools for practitioners. Use them to help others understand and use their emotions to their advantage.

A Take-Home Message

With an abundance of wisdom shared by stalwarts like Aristotle and Daniel Goleman, backed by research spanning decades, it is irrefutable that emotional intelligence promotes healthy, happy, and productive living

These quotes taken from leading EI experts and renowned philosophers do indeed ring true. It is our hope that this piece will inspire all to learn about and enhance their own EI competence.

In doing so, we will all be better able to take on the inevitable challenges that life throws our way.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Emotional Intelligence Exercises for free.


  • Aristotle (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2021, from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes
  • Bar-On, R. (2010). Emotional intelligence: An integral part of positive psychology. South African Journal of Psychology, 40, 54–62.
  • Bradberry, T., & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional intelligence 2.0. TalentSmart.
  • Ciarrochi, J., Forgas, J., & Mayer, J. D. (Eds.) (2006). Emotional intelligence in everyday life (2nd ed.) Psychology Press.
  • Druskat, V. U., & Wolff, S. B. (2001, March). Building the emotional intelligence of groups. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2001/03/building-the-emotional-intelligence-of-groups
  • Durlak, J., Weissberg, R., Dymnicki, A., Taylor, R., & Schellinger, K. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405–432.
  • Ezzi, F., Azouzi, M., Jarboui, A., & McMillan, D. (2016). Does CEO emotional intelligence affect the performance of the diversifiable companies? Cogent Economics & Finance, 4, 1–17.
  • Gardner, H. (1999). Intelligence reframed: Multiple intelligences for the 21st century. Basic Books.
  • Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional intelligence.  Bantam Books.
  • Goleman, D. (2005). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ (10th Anniversary ed.). Bantam Dell.
  • Goleman, D. (2006). The socially intelligent leader. Retrieved February 15, 2021, from https://cmapspublic2.ihmc.us/rid=1207228817342_1390637911_7833/ Goleman-%20Socially%20Intelligent%20Leader.pdf
  • Goleman, D. (2008). The secret to success. The Education Digest, 74, 8–9.
  • Goleman, D. (2011). Emotional mastery: Seek to excel in four dimensions. Retrieved February 15, 2021, from http://shibleyrahman.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/For-Jenni.pdf
  • Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., & McKee, A. (2013). Primal leadership: Unleashing the power of emotional intelligence (p. 3). Harvard Business Review Press.
  • Hari, R., & Kujala, M. (2009). Brain basis of human social interaction: From concepts to brain imaging. Psychological Reviews, 89, 453–479.
  • Kropotkin, P. (1898). Anarchist morality. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/1268029-be-strong-overflow-with-emotional-and-intellectual-energy-and-you
  • Lantieri, L., & Goleman, D. (2008). Building emotional intelligence: Techniques to cultivate inner strength in children. Sounds True.
  • Liptak, J. (2005). Using emotional intelligence to help college students succeed in the workplace. Journal of Employment Counseling, 42, 171–178.
  • Mayer, J., Caruso, D., & Salovey, P. (1999). Emotional intelligence meets traditional standards for an intelligence. Intelligence, 27, 267–298.
  • Mayer, J. D. (2004). What is emotional intelligence? UNH Personality Lab, 8. Retrieved February 21, 2021, from https://scholars.unh.edu/personality_lab/8
  • Nelson, D. B., & Low, G. R. (2011). Emotional intelligence (2nd ed.) Prentice Hall.
  • Nicholls, S., Wegener, M., Bay, D., & Cook, G. (2012). Emotional intelligence tests: Potential impacts on the hiring process for accounting students. Accounting Education, 21, 75–95.
  • Payne, W. (1985). Study of emotion: Developing emotional intelligence; self-integration; relating to fear, pain and desire. The Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities. Retrieved February 15, 2021, from http://eqi.org/payne.htm
  • Ray, A. (2017). Mindfulness meditation for corporate leadership and management. Retrieved February 15, 2021, from https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/56761404
  • Sadri, G. (2012). Emotional intelligence and leadership development. Public Personnel Management, 41, 535–548.
  • Sáenz, B. A. (2012). Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/16964419-aristotle-and-dante-discover-the-secrets-of-the-universe.


What our readers think

  1. George muhia from Kenya .

    Thanks so much .I learn a lot and various techniques of emotional intelligence and how someone’s can handle anger and control it .


Let us know your thoughts

Your email address will not be published.


Read other articles by their category

3 Emotional Intelligence Exercises (PDF)