top of page

EQ: a “new” frontier for performers

Do you know what Emotional Intelligence is?

Do you know how it could effectively improve your job as a performer?

If you are not sure about the answers, this article is perfect for you!


Among performers, actors are the most familiar with the use and control of emotions at work: when you bring to life new characters, understanding the feelings and reasons that cause their actions is crucial.

But do you know how to manage your own and others’ emotions at your workplace, when you are not on the stage? Are you “emotionally intelligent”?

[Note: The first definition of Emotional Intelligence dates back to 1990, from a study by Mayer, DiPaolo, & Salovey. It was described as “the accurate appraisal and expression of emotions in oneself and others and the regulation of emotion in a way that enhances living”.

Few years later, the term emotional Intelligence has been popularised by Daniel Goleman in his best-seller Emotional Intelligence: Why it can Matter More than IQ, 1995.

Since then, there have been many models and definitions applied to the concept of emotional intelligence.

In this article, my goal is to put in simple words the findings from the readings mentioned in the bibliography below, given that Daniel Goleman’s study Primal Leadership: unleashing the power of Emotional Intelligence (2013) has a more recent version of his theory on emotional intelligence, than the book Emotional Intelligence: Why it can Matter More than IQ (1995)]


We can define Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI) “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” (Brackett, Rivers, Salovey, 2011)

In simple words:

EQ = you perceive different emotions, you understand how to use them and how they are interrelated, and you know how to control them.

Interesting, but how could this possibly relate to performers?

In many different ways!

You know those situations where you’ve badly argued with another band member and you are about to play in a concert together?

Or imagine you get to an audition with your “archenemy”, you feel overwhelmed by several contrasting emotions and you don’t know how to control them anymore.

Well, improving your emotional intelligence will help you deal with your emotions and use them to determine your behaviour, in all sorts of situations.

According to the most recent study of the psychologist Daniel Goleman, there are four components of emotional intelligence:



People with self-awareness understand their emotions, know their strengths and limits, know their values and motives. Self-awareness also means that you are honest about yourself with yourself and with others, to the point that you can laugh at yourself when you make a mistake.

The tip: spend some time alone to reflect on yourself. Try to figure out what your long-term goals are. Trust your “guts” (intuitions), and always be true to yourself and your values.



A step further from knowing your emotions, is being able to control them. This is the ability to mitigate emotions with your focus and drive, to choose positive emotions such as optimism and enthusiasm over anger and anxiety. Which doesn’t mean faking or dissimulating your real emotions, but being able to master them, especially if these emotions come from your personal life, and not the professional one.

The tip: try to understand what’s the right time and the right place to share your feelings and emotions. Don’t freely vent your negative emotions, as they can be very contagious; on the contrary try to replace them with positive energy. Lastly, keep calm and positive when someone else is confrontational and irritating: most of the times this will stop them in their attempt to provoke you.



In other words: empathy. On one hand, this is the ability to genuinely connect with someone else’s emotions, understand where they come from and try to “walk in their shoes”. On the other hand, it means being able to communicate one’s feelings in a way that moves others.

The tip: listen to your interlocutor without prejudice, try to understand where they come from. Work for a mutual connection, which doesn’t mean trying to please them, but rather being able to take in consideration their feelings, especially when you are the leader.



It’s exactly how it sounds: handling relationships. This is the ability to start from the authenticity of your goals and emotions, and lead the relationship with other to the right direction. It doesn’t mean just being friendly, or pleasant, but working with others towards a purpose, inspire them and contribute to a healthy, positive environment.

The tip: always value diversity, try to focus on others’ strengths and work with them towards a common objective. Be consistent in giving feedbacks and guidance, without assumptions or prejudice. Be genuinely positive and collaborative.


Very important to say, “these emotional intelligence competencies are not innate talents, but learned abilities” (Goleman, 2013). Which means that these skills can be learned and improved by practicing simple tasks.

In conclusion,

  • Never miss the chance to understand your emotions, on but especially off the stage. (as your emotions off the stage can enhance or affect your emotions on the stage)

  • Spend some time listening to your own and others’ feelings.

  • Keep the focus on your values and your long-term goals.

  • Give the priority to positive feelings, as they will “energise” you and your team.

This way, you will not only approach your performance with more enthusiasm and focus, but you will also contribute to create a healthier, funnier, and more productive work environment.

Do you want to take the Emotional Intelligence test? Click here!

PS: you will find more exercises and details on emotional intelligence in Upgrade Your Performance Academy, available very soon!

Subscribe today to MiMi Consulting, to receive news and updates about the Online Academy!



Perceiving affective content in ambiguous visual stimuli: A component of Emotional Intelligence – John D. Mayer, Maria DiPaolo, Peter Salovey (Journal of Personality Assessment, 1990)

Emotional Intelligence: Implications for Personal, Social, Academic, and Workplace Success – Marc A. Brackett, Susan E. Rivers, and Peter Salovey (Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2011).

Primal Leadership: unleashing the power of Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, Annie McKee (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013)

46 views0 comments


bottom of page