If you ask any woman how well she thinks she’d do on an emotional intelligence pop quiz, she’d probably say, “Ha! I imagine I’d score somewhere near the top.” Ask her husband the same thing, and he’d likely say, “Contrary to popular belief, guys are more emotionally intelligent than you think. And that includes me.”

Great! So let’s find out! Oh, wait — you mean there’s a quiz for that? Yes! There’s actually several.

We published an emotional intelligence pop quiz a few years ago on our blog and included it again in this post. If you’ve taken it before, let’s see what’s changed. If this is your first time, let’s see what your score really is! Because as we learned last week, emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions and those of others. Those with a high EQ or EI make emotions work for them rather than against them, but emotions travel fast and can be so complex — in marriage, work, and life — that none of us will always know what to do in the heat of the moment.

The questions below will help us learn as we go. They were designed by David Walton, who wrote a book titled Emotional Intelligence. Simply read the four actions and choose which of them is closest to how you’d react.


The emotional intelligence pop quiz —

                  no peeking at your spouse’s answers!


1) You’re on an airplane with bad turbulence. What do you do?

  1. Continue to read your book or magazine.
  2. Monitor the cabin staff and begin reading the emergency instructions card.
  3. A little of both A and B.
  4. Not sure.


2) You are in a meeting when a colleague takes credit for the work you did.  What do you do?

  1. Immediately and publicly confront them.
  2. Take them aside after the meeting and say that you’d appreciate that they credit you in the future.
  3. Nothing. It’s not a good idea to embarrass colleagues in public.
  4. Thank her for referencing your work and give the group more specific details about your work.


3) You are speaking to an angry client on the phone. What do you do?

  1. Hang up. You aren’t paid to take abuse from anyone.
  2. Listen to the client and rephrase what you gather he or she is feeling.
  3. Tell the client they are being unfair, that you are only trying to do your job, and do not get in the way.
  4. Tell the client you understand how frustrating this must be and offer a specific thing you can do to resolve things.


4) You are a college student who hoped to get an A on an exam that was important for your career. You have just found out you made a C-. What do you do?

  1. Sketch out a specific plan for ways to improve your mark and resolve to follow it through.
  2. Decide that you do not have what it takes to make it in that career.
  3. Tell yourself it matters how well you do; concentrate instead on the other classes where your marks are higher.
  4. Discuss the results with your teacher and try to talk him into giving you a better mark.


5) You are a manager in an organization that is trying to encourage respect for racial and ethnic diversity. You overhear someone telling a racist joke. What do you do?

  1. Ignore it. The best way to deal with these things is not to react.
  2. Call the person into your office and explain that their behavior is inappropriate and is grounds for disciplinary action.
  3. Speak up on the spot, saying that such jokes are inappropriate and not tolerated in your organization.
  4. Suggest to the person who told the joke that he attend a diversity training course.


6) You are an insurance salesman calling on prospective clients, but you’ve had little luck. What do you do?

  1. Call it a day and go home early to miss rush-hour traffic.
  2. Try something new in the next call, and keep plugging away.
  3. List your strengths and weaknesses to identify what may be undermining your ability to sell.
  4. Sharpen up your resume.


7) You are trying to calm down a colleague who has worked herself into a fury because the driver of another car has swerved dangerously close to her car. What do you do?

  1. Tell her to forget about it — it’s no big deal.
  2. Put on some of her favorite music and try to distract her.
  3. Join her in criticizing the other driver.
  4. Tell her about a time something like this happened to you, and how angry you felt until you saw the other driver was on the way to the hospital.


8) A discussion between you and your partner escalates into a shouting match.  In the heat of the argument, you both start in on personal attacks. What’s the best thing to do?

  1. Agree to take a 20-minute break before continuing the discussion.
  2. Go silent, regardless of what your partner says.
  3. Say you are sorry and ask your partner to apologize, too.
  4. Stop for a moment, collect your thoughts, then restate your side of the case as precisely as possible.


9) You have been given the task of managing a team that has been unable to find a creative solution to a work problem. What’s the first thing you do?

  1. Draw up an agenda, call a meeting, and allot a specific period of time to discuss each item.
  2. Organize an off-site meeting to encourage the team to get to know each other better.
  3. Ask each person individually for ideas on how to solve the problem
  4. Have a brainstorming session, encouraging each person to say whatever comes to mind.


10) A young manager was recently assigned to your team. You notice that he can’t make the simplest decisions without seeking advice from you. What do you do?

  1. Accept that he doesn’t have what it takes to succeed, and find others on your team to take on his tasks.
  2. Get an HR manager to talk to him about where he thinks his future within the organization might lie.
  3. Purposely give him lots of complex decisions to make so that he will become more confident.
  4. Engineer an ongoing series of challenging but manageable experiences for him and act as his mentor.



How do you think you did? There are up to 10 points available for each situation.

  • A. (10pts), B. (10pts), C. (10pts), D. (0pts)
  • A. (0pts), B. (5pts), C. (0pts), D. (10pts)
  • A. (0pts), B. (5pts), C. (0pts), D. (10pts)
  • A. (10pts), B. (0pts), C. (5pts), D. (0pts)
  • A. (0pts), B. (5pts), C. (10pts), D. (5pts)
  • A. (0pts), B. (10pts), C. (5pts), D. (0pts)
  • A. (0pts), B. (0pts), C. (5pts), D. (10pts)
  • A. (10pts), B. (0pts), C. (0pts), D. (0pts)
  • A. (0pts), B. (10pts), C. (0pts), D. (0pts)
  • A. (0pts), B. (5pts), C. (0pts), D. (10pts)


According to Walton, the average score for participants between 30-50 is 65 points. The average score for participants under 30 is 60 points. There were also no significant differences in the results for men and women, therefore we might conclude that unlike many emotions, intelligence is something that is not gender-specific.

The point of this emotional intelligence pop quiz is to give you a sense of the skills involved in EQ or EI behavior and where some of your own strengths might lie. While it tackles many common issues we face or have faced in the past, the bottom line is that all couples should improve their emotional intelligence if they want a safe and connected marriage.


If you’re still thirsty for more, Susan David P.h.D published an emotional agility quiz that is also very good and worth looking into to see how you’d do in other scenarios.

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What do you think about the quiz? Did you score higher or lower than you thought? How have you and your spouse worked toward improving each other’s emotional intelligence? What has changed in your relationship as a result? We want to hear your stories. Send us a quick email and let us know. mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com