Should I Abbreviate Emotional Intelligence as EI or EQ? There’s Only 1 Right Answer

If you’re familiar with the concept of emotional intelligence, the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions, you may have seen it abbreviated in two different ways: EI and EQ.

Which raises the question, which one is right?

To discover the answer, we have to get into the history of emotional intelligence. The concept rose to fame in 1995, when Daniel Goleman originally published his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

However, Goleman himself has stated that he, along with most of academia, actually prefers the abbreviation “EI.”

So which one should you use?

The answer’s simple: You should use EQ. 

Look, the concept behind emotional intelligence is nothing new; it’s been around for centuries. And the scientific community began exploring emotional intelligence in the 1960s.

But it wasn’t until Goleman’s breakthrough work in 1995, along with the TIME magazine cover story, that emotional intelligence really broke through to the masses.

And a big reason for that was the simple, yet brilliant, new abbreviation: EQ.

Think about it: Doesn’t EQ roll much easier off the tongue than EI? It instantly and easily communicates the idea behind it. 

If we see someone who’s smart, we describe them as high-IQ.

If we see someone who understands strategy very well, we describe them as having a high-IQ in their area of expertise: high basketball or football IQ, or a high chess IQ.

Similarly, when we see someone who can understand emotions and how they work, and who is good at managing relationships, we describe them as having a high EQ.

Over the years, the term EQ has become more and more popular and recognizable in multiple languages. In fact, you could say the abbreviation is, in itself, an example of emotional intelligence in action. It’s simple, memorable, emotionally impactful.

My own work is proof of this. Two years ago, I wrote EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence. In that time the book has been translated into 15 languages, a number of these using the standard abbreviation, EQ.

When most people around the world think of emotional intelligence, they think about improving their EQ. So, if you’re still using EI, ditch it and get with the program.

Like it or not, EQ is here to stay.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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