The concept of emotional intelligence has become a very hot topic of psychological research in recent years, especially in regards to how it affects today’s workforce. Businesses are essentially people, so anything that impacts the effectiveness of people’s minds also impacts the businesses they run or work for. In fact, many experts now believe that a person’s emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) may be more important than their IQ and is certainly a better predictor of success, quality of relationships, and overall happiness.

It’s interesting to note how the concept of emotional intelligence has evolved over the years, from its inception as something called “social intelligence” all the way back in the 1930’s, to “emotional strength” in the mid-20th century, to its current terminology, “emotional intelligence.”

But whatever we call it, emotional intelligence is, in layman’s terms, our level of ability to:

Recognize and understand our emotions and reactions (self-awareness)

Manage, control, and adapt our emotions, mood, reactions, and responses (self-management)

Harness our emotions to motivate ourselves to take appropriate action, commit, follow-through, and work toward the achievement of our goals (motivation)

Discern the feelings of others, understand their emotions, and utilize that understanding to relate to others more effectively (empathy)

Build relationships, relate to others in social situations, lead, negotiate conflict, and work as part of a team (social skills)

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?

Physical Health – The ability to take care of our bodies and especially to manage our stress, which has an incredible impact on our overall wellness, is heavily tied to our emotional intelligence. Only by being aware of our emotional state and our reactions to stress in our lives can we hope to manage stress and maintain good health.

Mental Well-Being – Emotional intelligence affects our attitude and outlook on life. It can also help to alleviate anxiety and avoid depression and mood swings. A high level of emotional intelligence directly correlates to a positive attitude and happier outlook on life.

Relationships – By better understanding and managing our emotions, we are better able to communicate our feelings in a more constructive way. We are also better able to understand and relate to those with whom we are in relationships. Understanding the needs, feelings, and responses of those we care about leads to stronger and more fulfilling relationships.

Conflict Resolution – When we can discern people’s emotions and empathize with their perspective, it’s much easier to resolve conflicts or possibly avoid them before they start. We are also better at negotiation due to the very nature of our ability to understand the needs and desires of others. It’s easier to give people what they want if we can perceive what it is.

Success – Higher emotional intelligence helps us to be stronger internal motivators, which can reduce procrastination, increase self-confidence, and improve our ability to focus on a goal. It also allows us to create better networks of support, overcome setbacks, and persevere with a more resilient outlook. Our ability to delay gratification and see the long-term directly affects our ability to succeed.

Leadership – The ability to understand what motivates others, relate in a positive manner, and to build stronger bonds with others in the workplace inevitably makes those with higher emotional intelligence better leaders. An effective leader can recognize what the needs of his people are, so that those needs can be met in a way that encourages higher performance and workplace satisfaction. An emotionally savvy and intelligent leader is also able to build stronger teams by strategically utilizing the emotional diversity of their team members to benefit the team as a whole.

Emotional intelligence is still not completely understood, but what we do know is that emotions play a very critical role in the overall quality of our personal and professional lives, more critical even than our actual measure of brain intelligence. While tools and technology can help us to learn and master information, nothing can replace our ability to learn, manage, and master our emotions and the emotions of those around us.

If you are in need of some motivation to level up your life today, try out one of these 20 encouraging quotes to get your day started: 20 Encouraging Quotes to Level Up Your Life

Featured photo credit: Depressed and lonely teenage girl with hands over her face sitting on the railroad via Shutterstock

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