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 what exactly is emotional intelligence and why is it important?
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What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EI) 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)
The Importance of Emotional Intelligence
If you think emotional intelligence is only important for those who always have to interact or communicate with people, think it again. Emotional intelligence is a gateway to a balanced-life. It’s essential to basically every aspect of life:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How to Develop Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is not something inborn, there are ways to take control of your emotions. Here’s how:
1. Observe Your Feelings
We easily lose touch with our emotions when we’re too busy worrying about what to do next and what can be done better. Instead of really taking good care of our emotions, we choose to ignore them most of the time. What we don’t realize is that suppressing our emotions only makes things worse. The more we try to put our emotions behind, the more uncontrollable our emotions become.
When we have an emotional reaction to something, it can be due to the fact that we’re having some unsolved issues. So next time when you feel like having some negative emotions, calm down and think about why you’re experiencing this. Take a deep breath and write down the emotions you’re experiencing and the possible reasons.
When you have things written down, you can identify your emotions triggers and think of ways to deal with each of them. Learn more about this here: How To Control Your Emotions Effectively
2. Practice Responding, Not Reacting
Reacting is an unconscious process where we behave in an unconscious way that expresses or relieves an emotion. Responding is a conscious process that involves paying attention to your feelings and deciding how to behave.
When you’re more aware of your emotional triggers, you can always think about the way to behave in advance.
For example, if you know that you get angry easily and throw temper to colleagues when you’re feeling very stressful at work, take note of that and think about what you can do next time when you’re experiencing the same trigger. Maybe you can try to tell your colleagues that you need some silent moments because you’re feeling stressful at the moment, or maybe you can get a few minutes of alone time just to calm down yourself first.
3. Stay Humble All the Times
When you always believe that you’re better than others, you’ll not see your own faults, and you’ll likely to get emotional about things that don’t meet your expectation.
Try to look at the same thing from a different perspective. Instead of judging someone or something, put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to think or feel like them: would you do or feel the same too and why?
In this way, you’re likely to understand other people’s thoughts and emotions more; and you’ll probably learn something new about how to deal with stuff in similar situations too.
Be humble enough to know you’re not better than anyone, and wise enough to know that you’re different from the rest!
Emotional intelligence can be learned, it’s a lifetime process. It’s never too late to learn anything, it just takes continuous observation and practice. So no matter how old you are, you can still take up EI and make the rest of your life better and happier.
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