Is Emotional Intelligence innate or can it be improved?

Feb 26, 2023

In a time of unprecedented levels of stress, and emotional overwhelm, we often find ourselves juggling work, home, family life, care for ourselves as well as others which lead us to a life of worry, on autopilot, and eventually without meaning. For that reason, it’s critical for individuals and teams to have the necessary tools and skills to meet the challenges of today’s working environments. 

Emotional Intelligence has become a must have skill for success in every aspect of our lives. When you are able to manage your emotions, you are in control of your thoughts, and not taken hostage by worry, stress and anxiety. In the game of life, those who achieve success and mastery are those able to manage their emotions and thoughts regardless of the circumstances around them.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognise your own and other people’s emotions and use this information to guide skilful thinking and behaviour. Emotions are part of everyone’s personal and working lives and are essential for decision-making, connection, and wellbeing.


But how do you build emotional intelligence skills needed to perform to the best of your abilities?

The answer is simple, with mind training. We can train our brains because of something called neuroplasticity. Which is the discovery that what you do, what you think, and what you pay attention to - changes the structure and functions of the brain, and you can achieve that through Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the ability to focus on the present moment with curiosity and openness – a foundational skill that underpins emotional intelligence. Mindfulness practices train the ability to become aware of the present moment, building attention, focus and concentration. Mindfulness also improves our capacity to be present in conversations and meetings, strengthening relationships and building empathy. The continued development of mindfulness results in greater sense of clarity and calm, which helps individuals regulate threat responses, manage tasks skilfully, improve decision-making, and well-being.


Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence also help us on Managing stress and burnout!

Organisations today face increasing levels of stress and burnout with employees, according to ‘Gallup 2020’ – 76% of workers. Additionally, a study by the U.S Centre for Disease Control and Prevention shows that anxiety symptoms tripled, and depression quadrupled in 2020 compared to 2019. While work-related stress can be the sole cause of burnout, external stressors like financial, health related, relationship or other, also contribute.

Employees who say they very often or always experience burnout at work are: 63% more likely to take a sick day, 23% more likely to visit a doctor, 2.6x as likely to be actively seeking a different job.

Developing strategies to manage stress is essential to our ability to cope with challenges and our capacity for resilience. The great news is, according to numerous studies around the world, developing mindfulness and emotional intelligence can help individuals to manage stress successfully, cultivate resilience, increase job engagement, and even strengthen immune system response.

Developing stress-management skills is like working out at the gym: The more you practice, the easier it becomes. A simple practice done during a long period of time, changes you, changes your perception of the world around you. You begin to see things with more clarity, especially the process of emotions. It does not mean that developing Emotional Intelligence will eliminate stress from your life, but it will strengthen your ability to meet life’s challenges with confidence, focus and resilience.

The impact of stress and burnout extends from individuals to home life, to the teams they work on and the organisations they are part of. Learning new strategies like emotional intelligence and mindfulness gives you a choice that is available at any time to help you manage challenging situations such as difficult team dynamics, disputes with a colleague or dealing with a frustrating client, without becoming overwhelmed.

People with high levels of Emotional Intelligence create a working environment in which trust, information sharing, healthy risk taking and learning flourish. It enables people to respond to a situation as it arises, to respond to the reality of constant changes from a place of deep calm and focus.

These characteristics lead to more impactful and influential leadership that drives innovation, agility, empathy, and compassion. Employees work harder for leaders who care about their needs and are willing to support their well-being.

Emotional Intelligence is an essential competency for leaders and their teams as we face the future of work. Proactive approach to workplace wellbeing and mental health creates workplaces where everyone can thrive, increase employee engagement, productivity, and happiness. And the amazing news is – These are trainable skills!


The conclusion is simple: Mindfulness is a valuable basis for the enhancement of emotional intelligence, it’s an important aspect of thriving in the workplace. It opens new possibilities and new ways of dealing with challenging situations. Not to mention the increased levels of positivity, peace, meaning, and happiness you’ll be unlocking with the ability to manage your emotions. 


For those of you interested in knowing more about developing your emotional intelligence and more, check out my website for workshops, training, and coaching.


Talita Vidal