”You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.” – Dan Millman
Understanding Emotional Intelligence
How we manage our lives and interact with others lies in our ability to interpret our emotions and the emotions of others. Yet, nobody actually teaches us this. While we are taught many things throughout school, we were not taught how to manage our emotions and thoughts. Emotional Intelligence or EQ is the management and understanding of our individual emotional circumstances as well as the emotional states of others. EQ is fundamental in the work I do with both individuals and leaders.
Emotional Intelligence has been proven to be more vital and a more accurate determinate than IQ when it comes to long-term success in one’s quality of life. Recently, we are hearing a lot more about EQ, a term created by researchers Peter Salavoy and John Mayer. But it was Dan Goleman’s 1996 book Emotional Intelligence, EQ that brought it to the mainstream. It is often the detail forgotten about that upon tending to makes a significant difference in the quality of our lives no matter what the circumstances may be. And, the great news is, unlike one’s IQ, EQ is a learned skill. Each of us has the ability to improve our EQ with awareness and practice no matter what our age.
So what is Emotional Intelligence?
It’s often broken down into the following three components and skills:
- Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;
- The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving;
- The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.
There are four areas where one will exhibit if they have a high emotional intelligence: two components are under Personal and two under Social.
- knowing your story and how it affects you
- making peace with your past
- knowing your beliefs, your emotions & your behaviour patterns
- knowing your relationship patterns
- learning skills for breathing and relaxation
- completing your basic emotional healing work
- learning skills for soothing and motivating yourself
- maintaining healthy eating and exercise
Social Awareness includes:
- understanding non-verbal signals
- developing a positive view of others
- understanding basic human emotional needs
- understanding “games” and personal integrity
Relationship Management includes:
- developing skills for reflective listening and empathy
- learning skills for healthy assertiveness
- learning conflict resolution skills
- developing skills for support and affirmation of others.
A big part of emotional intelligence is being able to feel an emotion without having to act on it. Exploring and understanding ourselves while respectfully and thoughtfully navigating the world around us whether in work or play is, when we look at what our lives are all about, what living well should be all about. Striking a healthy balance between ourselves and the relationships we build, and ensuring the relationships we build with ourselves and with others are healthy, respectful, thoughtful, loving and kind.
EQ is simple in theory, and eventually does become simple in practice, but initially, it will take time, attention and patience to build a muscle that may not have been developed or used in quite some time, possibly ever. Now, as you will see below, there are many different characteristics.
What can we gain by improving our EQ?
Gaining emotional intelligence enables one to master self-worth, emotional and psychological well-being. With increased emotional intelligence, we are also much more effective in our relationships.
Benefits & Characteristics: Benefits of Emotional Intelligence
- become the curator of your own happiness regardless of outside forces, events or people
- solve a variety of emotion-related problems accurately and quickly
- Be able to accurately perceive emotions in faces
- manage emotions effectively – both our own and others – especially when we are under pressure
- regulate emotions such as anger or jealously and keep them at a healthy level.
- calmly find solutions to problems
- exude confidence due to trusting intuition and not allowing emotions to get out of control
- can look honestly at yourself – observing strengths and weaknesses – being able to work on areas you can improve
- become comfortable with change
- strength to say no
- exemplify sincere thoughtfulness
- able to be disciplined and therefore able to discern between immediate and long-term effects
- thereby experience much success, effectiveness and productivity
- strong listening skills
- less likely to judge and stereotype
- manage relationships well
- able to identify with and understand the wants, needs, and viewpoints of those around you
- manage disputes effectively, become an excellent communicator, and become adept at building and maintaining relationships
The benefits included on this list are the reason I have been actively researching and continuing to remain curious about the concept of EQ. As I continue to improve and apply the practices of being emotionally intelligent both personally and professionally, I have begun to see remarkable improvements.
Emotional intelligence is something that each of us—if we are willing to learn and grow—can improve over time. An increase in emotional intelligence can lead us to more meaningful relationships and make us better suited to navigate the emotional landscapes of our lives. It’s not something that is easy to accomplish within a few months but rather it’s a journey over many years.
While we are often stronger with in one area over others, we can develop them all so that we become better leaders in our lives, whether at our workplace, our home or elsewhere.