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Mindfulness is the Foundation of Emotional Intelligence

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

I think we can all agree that Emotional Intelligence training strengthens our individuals and teams, improves the workplace, and creates the conditions for higher performance and productivity – and we all know that EQ depends on a foundation of self-awareness, and compassion to truly understand others, right?

Right. Well, mindfulness creates and strengthens self-awareness and compassion – In so doing, it provides the prerequisite qualities, and is a force multiplier for Emotional Intelligence. Here’s how mindfulness and EQ fit together:

A Framework for Interpersonal Relationships

EQ training provides a framework for intellectually understanding what drives successful interpersonal relationships. It explains self-awareness and compassion… what they are, how they influence our behaviors, their importance in creating and sustaining positive relationships.

But learning about EQ – what it is, why it’s important, how it works – won’t make us any more self-aware or compassionate. Because self-awareness and compassion are properties of consciousness. We don’t learn them intellectually, we “become” them through practice.  

EQ training helps us understand how important these qualities are, and motivates us to develop them – But after class, we go home pretty much the same person we were when we arrived.

A Step-By-Step Neural Process

Mindfulness training, on the other hand, is a step-by-step neural process, that produces the behavioral competencies we need to put Emotional Intelligence into practice. Mindfulness is the only methodology known to create, develop and strengthen self-awareness and compassion.

EQ training makes a lot of sense. But sending people back to their desks with zero information on how they can actually become emotionally intelligent, doesn’t. Understanding how basketball is played is not the same as being able to put the ball through the hoop in a tied game with two seconds on the clock. One is an intellectual understanding, the other is an unconscious application of competencies, developed through practice.

Please don’t get me wrong, teaching EQ is a really valuable, really important step – But it’s equally (okay, let’s be real, it’s probably a lot more) valuable to know how to actually become self-aware, and become compassionate. Those are the outcomes that mindfulness training offers.

Enjoy this article? Want to stay updated with the latest research and best practices in science-based, performance-focused mindfulness? Become a FREE community member of the Institute for Organizational Mindfulness (IOM) — and join our LinkedIn Community of Practice.


Institute for Organizational Mindfulness (IOM) is a membership association of researchers, educators and executives, with a shared mission to bring science-based neural training into the mainstream of business, healthcare, education and government. We're working to create a global community of shared experience, conduct research, define standards and practices, develop educational programs, and determine the measures, metrics and analytics for organizational mindfulness.

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