Improving Emotional Intelligence
What is emotional intelligence, or EQ?
Emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient (EQ), is the ability to use and understand your emotions positively. It can help you communicate effectively with others, relieve stress, manage conflict, resolve conflicts, and communicate effectively. Emotional intelligence can help you build better relationships, achieve your career goals, and succeed at school or work. Emotional intelligence can help you connect with your emotions, make decisions about what is most important to you, and turn intention into actions.
Four attributes are commonly used to define emotional intelligence.
- Self-management You can control your impulsive emotions and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy and productive ways, take the initiative and follow through with commitments.
- Self-awareness You can recognize your emotions and influence your thoughts and behavior. You are aware of your strengths and weaknesses and can have self-confidence.
- You can show empathy and social awareness. You can understand and respond to the needs and emotions of others and their social and political dynamics.
- Relationship management You can build and maintain strong relationships, communicate clearly and inspire others, manage conflict, and work well in teams.
What makes emotional intelligence so important?
We all know that not everyone is the smartest or most fulfilled. Many people know brilliant people but are poor at social skills and are unsuccessful in work and personal relationships. Your intelligence quotient (IQ), or intellectual ability, is not enough to make it a success in life. Your IQ may be able to help you get into college. However, your EQ will help manage stress and emotions as you face your final exams. IQ and EQ can be used in conjunction, and they work best when they complement each other.
Emotional intelligence affects:
Your school and work performance. Emotional intelligence is a key component of your ability to lead, motivate and manage others and excel in your job. Many companies consider emotional intelligence as important as technical abilities when assessing job candidates. They also use EQ testing to determine if they are hiring.
Your physical and emotional health. You are likely not managing your stress. This could lead to serious health issues. Uncontrolled stress can increase blood pressure, suppress the immune system, cause heart attacks and strokes, infertility and accelerate the aging process. Learning how to manage stress is the first step in improving your emotional intelligence.
Your mental well-being. Stress and uncontrolled emotions can harm your mental health. You’ll struggle to build strong relationships if you don’t understand, feel comfortable with, or manage your emotions. This can lead to loneliness and isolation, further exacerbating mental health issues.
How to improve your relationships. Understanding your emotions and learning how to control them will help you express yourself better and understand the feelings of others. This will allow you to communicate better and build stronger relationships at work and home.
Your social intelligence. Feel your emotions, and connecting with others serves a social purpose. Social intelligence allows you to identify friends from foe, assess another person’s interest, balance your nervous systems through social communication, and feel loved.
Building emotional intelligence: Four key skills for increasing your EQ
You can learn the skills that make up emotional intelligence at any age. It is important to understand that you can’t just learn about EQ but apply that knowledge in your daily life. Even if you are certain you should do it, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will. Stress can also make your intentions seem less realistic. To permanently change your behavior under pressure, you must learn to deal with stress.
These are the key skills to increase your EQ, improve your ability to control emotions and connect with others.
- Social awareness
- Management of relationships
Building emotional intelligence, key skill 1: Self-management
To engage your EQ and make positive decisions about your behavior, you need to use your emotions. Over-stress can cause you to lose control over your emotions and make it difficult to think clearly and act appropriately.
Consider a time in your life when stress overwhelmed you. It wasn’t easy to think clearly and make rational decisions. It is not. It is possible to become overwhelmed and lose your ability to think clearly and assess emotions accurately, both your own and those of others.
Emotions can be a valuable piece of information about you and others. However, it is easy to become overwhelmed and lose control when we are stressed out. You can manage stress without letting upsetting information override your thoughts or self-control. You will be able to make decisions that control your impulsive emotions and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy and positive ways, and take responsibility for your actions.
Key skill 2: Self-awareness
The first step in building emotional intelligence is managing stress. The science of attachment suggests that today’s emotional experience is likely to reflect your early life experiences. The quality and consistency in your early emotional experiences can affect how you manage core emotions such as joy, sadness, fear, anger, and fear. Your emotions will be valuable assets in adulthood if your infant caretaker understands and values them. If your infant’s emotional experiences were difficult, frightening, or confusing, it’s possible that you tried to separate yourself from them.
However, connecting to them is possible to understand emotion and how it influences your thoughts and actions.
Are you able to feel fluid emotions, experiencing one emotion after the other as your experiences change?
Do you feel emotions accompanied by physical sensations in areas like your stomach, throat or chest?
Are you able to express your emotions and feelings in subtle facial expressions like anger, sadness and fear?
Are you able to feel intense emotions strong enough that they grab your attention?
Are you paying attention to your emotions? How do they impact your decision-making?
These experiences may not be familiar to you and could indicate that your emotions have been “turned off” or down. To build EQ (and be emotionally healthy), you must connect to your core emotions and accept them. This can be achieved through mindfulness.
Mindfulness refers to the practice of consciously focusing your attention on what is happening right now without judgment. Although mindfulness is rooted in Buddhism, most religions have some form of meditation or prayer that can cultivate it. Mindfulness allows you to shift from a preoccupation with thoughts towards an appreciation for the present moment and your emotional and physical sensations. This gives you a wider perspective. Mindfulness helps you to be calmer and more aware of yourself.
Develop emotional awareness
It would be best if you learned how to manage stress. Help Guide’s Emotional Intelligence Toolkit can help you develop your emotional awareness. This will help you feel more at ease with strong emotions, unpleasant feelings and how to change how you respond to them.
Key skill 3: Social awareness
Social awareness allows you to identify and interpret nonverbal cues that others use to communicate with you. These cues can help you understand how your friends and family feel, what their emotions are changing, and what is most important to them.
You can read the power dynamics and emotional experiences when they send out the same nonverbal cues. You are socially comfortable and empathetic.
Mindfulness can be a friend of social and emotional awareness.
Mindfulness is essential for social awareness. You can’t pick out subtle nonverbal cues if you’re distracted by your phone or thinking about other things. Social awareness demands your presence at the moment. Multitasking is a trait that many people pride themselves on, but it can lead to you missing subtle emotional shifts in others that will help you understand them.
- It is more likely that you will achieve your social goals if you forget about other things and focus on the interaction.
- It is important to pay attention to changes in your emotional experience and follow the emotional reactions of others.
- You don’t have to pay attention to others for you to be more self-aware. You can gain insight into your emotions and values by paying attention to other people. If you find it difficult to hear others’ opinions, that will reveal something about you.
Key skill 4: Relationship management
Effectively working with others requires emotional awareness. This is the ability to recognize and comprehend what others are feeling. You can develop more social/emotional skills to make your relationships more productive, fruitful, and satisfying once you have emotional awareness.
Be aware of your nonverbal communication skills. It is impossible not to send nonverbal messages about what you feel and think. You can communicate your emotions verbally using the many muscles of the face, particularly those around the nose, eyes, and forehead. Even if you ignore it, the emotional part of your brain never stops working. It can be a big part of improving your relationships by recognizing the nonverbal messages you send others.
Have fun and use humor to reduce stress. Humor and laughter are natural antidotes for stress. They can help you reduce your stress and keep things in perspective. Laughter balances your nervous system, reduces stress, calms you down, sharpens your mind, and makes you more empathic.
See conflict as an opportunity for growth. Human relationships are bound to have disagreements. Two people can’t have the same needs, opinions, and expectations. This doesn’t have to be a problem. Using constructive and healthy ways to resolve conflict can increase trust among people. A conflict that isn’t perceived as threatening or punishing fosters creativity, safety, and freedom in relationships.