Emotional Competences
Rafael Bisquerra

We understand emotional competencies as the set of knowledge, capabilities, skills, and attitudes necessary to understand, express and regulate emotional experience appropriately (Bisquerra, 2009; Bisquerra et al., 2007, 2019). Emotional competencies are an important aspect of a person’s integral development.

Since 1997, the GROP (Research Group in Psychopedagogy Orientation) at the University of Barcelona has worked on emotional education, both in research and teaching, with the purpose of contributing to the development of emotional competences. There are various models of emotional competencies. For our part, we propose a model that integrates all of them, while it is proposed to take into consideration all the other proposals. It is also not yet a completely formed model, which is continually being made, trying to integrate the new contributions of scientific research.

The model we propose includes five large blocks of competencies: emotional awareness, emotional regulation, emotional autonomy, social competence, and life skills for well-being. The figure below illustrates this model, which is called pentagonal.

Emotional awareness consists of becoming aware of your own emotions (emotional self-awareness), and the emotions of others (social awareness). This is achieved through the observation of the neurophysiological reactions of the body itself, as well as, the behaviour of the people around us. It involves perceiving, identifying, and distinguishing between emotions in order to name them accurately. It also means understanding the causes of emotions, becoming aware of the interaction between emotion, thought and behaviour; detecting beliefs that favour certain emotional experiences; developing full mindfulness; achieving empathic awareness, and moral emotions. 

Emotion regulation means expressing emotions appropriately, both through verbal and non-verbal language. Emotional regulation should not be confused with repression. Regulation consists of a difficult balance between repression and lack of control. Impulsivity regulation, frustration tolerance, anger management to prevent violence (verbal and physical), stress management, the ability to delay gratification, coping skills in risk situations (induction to drug use, violence, etc.), the development of empathy, resilience, and the ability to develop positive emotions, among others. Some specific suitable techniques for the development of emotional regulation are: internal dialogue, group discussion, emotional diary, stress management, remind (relaxation, breathing, meditation, mindfulness), positive self-affirmations, cognitive restructuring, emotional imagination, causal attribution, and many more. Developing emotional regulation requires continued practice. It is generally recommended for one to start by regulating emotions such as: anger, fear, sadness, shame, shyness, guilt, envy, joy, love, etc.

Emotional autonomy is the ability to not be seriously affected by environmental stimuli.  Emotional autonomy is a balance between emotional dependence and detachment. This includes self-knowledge, self-acceptance, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-efficacy, self-motivation, positive attitude, responsibility, critical analysis of social norms, seeking help and resources and empowerment. Sometimes it's about having sensitivity with invulnerability.

Social competence allows you to maintain positive relationships with others.  Interpersonal and social relationships are interwoven with emotions. They include basic and higher social skills, respect, effective communication (receptive and expressive), teamwork, collaboration, conflict management, assertiveness, negotiation, emotional leadership, the ability to contribute to creating positive emotional climates, the ability to share emotions, and prosocial behaviour. All of this is at the other extreme of racist, xenophobic or sexist attitudes, which cause so many social problems.

Life skills and well-being include attitudes and values ​​favourable to the construction of personal and social well-being. It includes the ability to make decisions with probabilities of success, learn to flow, adopt a professional and personal commitment to life, the development of aesthetic and moral competences, strengths and virtues, and self-realization with optimism. Emotional well-being is the closest thing to happiness, and happiness is characterized by experiencing positive emotions. One’s well-being has to be constructed, and for this one has to learn. 

In conclusion, emotional education aims to develop emotional competences, which when put into practice with excellence, contributes significantly to the improvement of our coexistence, performance, and the construction of personal and social well-being.

Bisquerra, R., y Pérez Escoda, N. (2007). Las competencias emocionales. Educación XX1, 10, 61-82.
Bisquerra, R., y Mateo, A., (2019). Competencias emocionales para un cambio de paradigma en educación. Barcelona: Horsori.
Emotional Regulation through the body