Emotional Intelligence-Swami Vivekanand's way

Bibek Roy

As Swamiji’s birthday is celebrated on 12th Jan, hence we are getting ready to salute him!!

Swami ji was born on 12th Jan 1863, which is approx. 161 years ago (From 12th Jan 2024)

Still after so long years, his preaching and teachings have transformed millions of lives in India & abroad.

On this occasion, I am trying to analyse, how Swami ji used Emotional Intelligence (EI), which is very much relevant in recent years around the globe. And most importantly he did this without any formal training on EI.

Swami Vivekananda's opening salutation, "My dear Sisters and Brothers of America," during his address at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago on September 11, 1893, was a powerful and emotionally resonant choice that immediately established a deep connection with the audience.

This salutation had several significant emotional rhetorical effects:

Emotional Effects are:

Swami Vivekananda's salutation at the Parliament of the World's Religions in 1893 demonstrated a high level of emotional intelligence, which played a major role in establishing a profound connection with the audience.

Emotional intelligence involves:

  • Recognizing
  • Understanding
  • And effectively managing one's own emotions and the emotions of others

Let's explore how emotional intelligence was evident in Vivekananda's address:

Empathy: (1)

Swami Vivekananda's use of the term "brothers and sisters" reflected a deep sense of empathy.

He understood the diversity of the audience and acknowledged their humanity.

By addressing them in familial terms, he demonstrated an ability to connect with people on an emotional level, recognizing and respecting their individual experiences and backgrounds.

Social Awareness: (2)

Vivekananda's choice of words showcased social awareness, a key component of emotional intelligence.

He was attuned to the cultural and religious diversity of the audience, and his salutation was a deliberate acknowledgment of the specific context—he was addressing an American audience at the Parliament of the World's Religions.

This awareness allowed him to tailor his message for maximum impact.

Relationship Management: (3)

The opening salutation was a masterful example of relationship management.

Vivekananda aimed to establish a positive and inclusive relationship with the audience from the very beginning.

By using warm and affectionate language, he set the tone for a harmonious and respectful interaction, paving the way for effective communication and understanding.

Influence and Inspirational Leadership: (4)

Emotional intelligence involves the ability to inspire and influence others positively.

Swami Vivekananda's salutation was not just a form of address but a powerful tool for inspiring the audience.

The inclusive language created a sense of unity and common purpose, inspiring the listeners to be receptive to his broader message of religious tolerance, harmony, and universal brotherhood.

Self-Management: (5)

Emotional intelligence also includes the ability to Manage one's own emotions effectively.

In choosing a warm and inclusive salutation, Vivekananda demonstrated self-management by avoiding any language that might alienate or create emotional distance.

He presented himself as approachable, open, and emotionally connected to the needs of the audience.

Can you imagine, in the year 1893, approx. 130 years ago, when all these Emotional Intelligence etc was not born, and Swami Vivekananda flawlessly implemented EI at the world’s biggest religion platform?

That’s why he is considered as Genius.

We need not to read the Biography of Western Philosophers and Business Tycoons, as we had them in India since long back.

Swami Vivekananda's emotional intelligence played a pivotal role in the success of his address.

His ability to connect emotionally with the audience through a carefully chosen salutation set the stage for effective communication, understanding.

Thus, Swami ji delivered a profound spiritual message to the audience.

The other profound effects are:

Inclusivity and Universality:

 By addressing the audience as "brothers and sisters," Swami Vivekananda employed inclusive language that transcended national, religious, and cultural boundaries.

This approach fostered a sense of universality, making everyone in the audience feel connected and included.

Breaking Down Barriers:

At a time when cultural and religious differences were often emphasized, Swami Vivekananda's salutation aimed at breaking down these barriers.

The term "brothers and sisters" carried a message of equality, challenging the prevalent notions of hierarchy and division.

This choice of words immediately created an emotional bridge between the speaker and the diverse audience.

Warmth and Affection:

The use of endearing terms like "dear" conveyed a genuine warmth and affection.

This was not a distant or formal address, instead, it was an expression of genuine care and a desire to connect with the hearts of the people present.

The emotional tone of the salutation created an immediate rapport, making the audience more receptive to Vivekananda's message.


Swami Vivekananda's choice of addressing the audience as "of America" demonstrated an understanding of the context and an acknowledgment of the host country.

This relatability was crucial for establishing a connection, as it showed respect for the audience's identity and created a shared space for dialogue.

Emphasizing Shared Values:

The salutation implicitly conveyed that, despite differences, there were shared values and aspirations among people of different backgrounds.

Vivekananda's emphasis on the familial terms "brothers and sisters" underscored the idea that, at a fundamental level, everyone shares a common humanity and spiritual essence.

It was a masterful oratory choice that went beyond mere words, resonating deeply with the audience and setting the stage for a historic and impactful address that continues to inspire people around the world.

Bibek Roy
An experienced power plant professional having more than 34 years of experience in India & abroad. Certified Lead auditor for QMS, EHSMS. Certifed Energy auditor from BEE. A trainer, coach and auditor. An evangelist for sustainability.


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