What is emotional intelligence?
It was defined as the ability to identify and manage emotions appropriately.
Thereby, emotional intelligence encompasses three attributes:
1) personal awareness.
2) the ability to understand emotions and apply them to productive tasks.
3) the ability to regulate and manage emotions appropriately.
For example, when someone comes home angry after a bad day at work, emotional intelligence will allow the person to recognise that anger, evaluate the cause of the rage and decide on an appropriate plan to deal with it without doing something regrettable.
In recent years, some employers have even incorporated emotional intelligence tests into their application and interview processes, on the theory that someone high in emotional intelligence would make a better leader or colleague.
Developing Emotional Intelligence
This can significantly influence your success. Both personal situations and intelligence are factors as well; however, emotional intelligence can profoundly affect our choices by creating options we may not have otherwise imagined or considered to be possibilities.
Below are some ways in which you can cultivate and increase your emotional intelligence:
This is the ability to label, recognise, and understand your own emotions. Self-awareness requires us to tune in to our feelings and not avoid our negative emotions such as anxiety, fear and sadness. Recognising our own emotional states and how they affect our thoughts, behaviours, and decisions is the key to cultivating self-awareness.
Emotional regulation has to do with our ability to control strong emotions by not acting on raw feelings in an impulsive or destructive manner. Developing the ability to sit with unpleasant feelings and to give ourselves the time and space to decide how we may alleviate or reduce negative emotions cultivates self-confidence.
Emotional regulation also helps us develop the ability to consider various solutions to a particular situation or problem. We were not reacting solely from an emotionally charged state results in better decision-making outcomes.
When we empathise with others, we develop more profound, more intimate relationships. Empathy is the ability to recognise how and why people feel the way they do. Empathy allows us to anticipate how our actions and behaviours influence other people as well as our own. Developing empathy skills enhances our experiences, relationships, and a general understanding of ourselves, other people and the world around us.
This is a broad term. In general, having strong social skills means having the ability to communicate in a clear, concise, and courteous manner. In a nutshell, good social skills are the summation of all of the components of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, emotional regulation, and empathy.
For hundreds of years, your worth to society was determined by how much physical labour you could do. Then, sometime in the last 100 years, the tide shifted and people started placing stock in your Intellectual capacity – your IQ.
The more you knew and the better you were at taking exams largely determined the trajectory of your career. In fact, the education system is still set up under this paradigm. However, as the authors of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 would tell you, there’s a shift underway.
As it turns out, there’s a completely different “intelligence” that has a large bearing on how successful you are in life – your emotional intelligence – or, EQ.
In fact, emotional intelligence is the missing link to a peculiar finding. Consider that people with the highest IQs outperform those of us with average IQs 20% of the time – not surprising. But also consider that people with average IQs outperform those with high IQs a whopping 70% of the time.
The greatest predictor of success, we now know, lies in our ability to harness our emotional intelligence.
And if you aren’t with us yet, chew on this. People with a high level of emotional intelligence make a lot more money than those with low levels of emotional intelligence – $29,000 a year more, on average.
So whether you are looking to increase your emotional intelligence, or even just looking for the secret to making an additional $29,000 a year, this is a topic for you. So buckle up, and get ready to learn the four building blocks of emotional intelligence – self awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management.
Self awareness is the ability to understand your emotions as they are happening, and to understand your tendencies to react in certain ways in different situations. There’s no need to go and live in a Buddhist retreat for 21 years to find your self-awareness. In fact, just thinking about your emotions as they happen is a very good start and will help you along your journey.
A person with high self-awareness is usually in control of their emotions. It’s not that they don’t feel emotions, but they don’t let them take over their lives. On the the flip side, a person with low self-awareness typically will take their own stress and project it on to other people. These are the type of people that if they are having a bad day, dammit, so is everybody else on this godforsaken planet. While these people might say that they don’t care how they are perceived, it’s quite likely that they just don’t know how they are perceived.
Here are some strategies for increasing your self-awareness and getting to know yourself a little better.
1. Notice your feelings and realize that they are not good or bad, they just “are”. For the most part, you won’t be able to control your feelings. If something terrible happens, you’ll feel some pretty nasty emotions. In fact, you are better off feeling them fully now, rather than burying them deep inside. However, the key is to not hold on to them – let them take their course and then let go of them. Lastly, realize that however you react to these emotions will have an impact on others.
2. Understand how your buttons get pushed. We’ve all got pet peeves and people that just seem to rub us the wrong way. Being able to articulate these things is critical because then you can start to take actions to be in control of yourself in these situations.
3. Keep a journal. Doing a review of your day and your emotions throughout is a great step towards self-awareness. You’ll start to see patterns in your thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are destructive. Once you see those patterns you’ll do anything you can to get rid of them.
4. Don’t be fooled by your moods. Sometimes there are days when you are on cloud nine, and nothing could be going better. Other days you feel down in the dumps and nothing could be going worse. Of course, reality is usually somewhere in between those two extremes. So even though you hate your job, spouse, and that jerk who cut you off in traffic on those down days, remind yourself that things aren’t as bad as they seem and that the mood will pass – it always does. On the flip side, don’t get lulled into a false sense of security on the good days.
Self management is highly dependent upon your self-awareness. It’s the ability to use your self-awareness to react in a positive or useful way in any circumstance. This is your ability to control your emotions around situations or people.
If you are around somebody who is able to manage themselves at a high level, you’ll notice that they handle themselves extremely well under pressure. On the flip side, people who aren’t able to manage themselves at a high level lose their cool on a regular basis.
Here are some strategies for increasing your self-management ability so you can keep your cool in any situation.
1. Breathe, dammit! Your brain consumes a remarkable amount of oxygen – a full 20% of your body’s requirements – and it only gets what it needs to function on a high level if you are breathing properly. Although breathing deeply is good advice for any situation, it is doubly good in stressful situations because otherwise you’ll be restricting the flow of oxygen to your brain.
2. Sleep on it. If you find yourself in a stressful situation and need to make a decision, sometimes the best thing you can do is put it off until the next day. When you are being controlled by stress, you are unlikely to make the best decision – whether this is at work or at home. So, prepare yourself to take extra time with stressful decisions.
3. Get control of the voices in your head. We all have them. You know, the voices that tell you that you are an idiot for agreeing to the extra work on the long weekend. Or that you aren’t good enough for the job. When you find yourself in these situations, change the language in your head. If you’ve made a mistake – don’t generalize and say that you always make stupid mistakes. Remind yourself that you made a mistake this time, and it doesn’t mean that you’ll make it again tomorrow.
4. Learn something valuable from everybody you encounter. We can all learn lessons from the people who inspire us and treat us well. But what about the people who don’t move us deeply, or worse, rub us the wrong way completely? If you can learn from those people, you will truly be working on another level. In almost any situation you find yourself in, you will learn a little more about yourself, and gain greater self-awareness in the process.
Social awareness is the ability to read other people’s emotions and understand what’s going on with them. It’s the seeing what it’s like in the proverbial “other person’s shoes”.
If you spend any time with socially aware people, you’ll notice that they talk less and observe more. They will dig deeper into what you are saying by asking you questions so that they understand you better. On the other hand, people with low social awareness seem to be waiting for you to stop talking so that they can show you how smart they are. In the process, they seem to miss the entire point of what you are saying. We’ve all been around people like that, and at times, have probably acted that way ourselves.
Here are some strategies for increasing your social awareness so that you can connect better with others.
1. Greet people by their name. This may seem far too simple to increase your social awareness, but you’ll be tapping into the universal need to be “acknowledged” for who you are. Your name is an essential part of your identity, and starting off each encounter by using the other person’s name will bring you closer to them immediately.
2. Increase your cocktail party conversation skills. This might seem trite, but creating a connection with other people takes work. Planning ahead and remembering who will be at a party and what their children do after school (for instance), is all part of the game. In the process, you will find yourself actually caring about these things because most people respond in kind to this kind of behaviour. As it turns out, giving a damn about people is a pretty good strategy.
3. Practice your listening skills. When others are talking, don’t just listen to the words coming out of their mouth. Watch their body language and listen to the tone and pace of their voice. If their words and body language don’t match, check in and see if you truly understand what they are thinking. Some people will tell you that they are “just fine” in spite of obvious evidence to the contrary. Checking in like this will bring your connection with your friends, colleagues and family to an entirely new level.
4. Understand how others view you. This isn’t something that most people want to do, preferring to go through life believing that they don’t have any of the flaws that they see in other people. However, being socially aware is also about understanding how you impact others. So, check in with some friends and family to see how they are experiencing “you”. You’ll learn quite a bit about yourself, but also how you come off to others in a multitude of situations. This is invaluable information.
Relationship management is sort of like “bringing it all home”. It’s understanding your emotions and the emotions of others to skillfully manage a relationship.
People who do this well seem to manage many different relationships and seem to be close with all of them. They also make everybody they come into contact with feel at ease with them, even when delivering a stern message. People with low relationship management skills are constantly reacting to people and situations rather than responding to them. They make it very difficult for others to build a bond with them.
Here are some strategies you can use to develop your relationship management skills.
1. Do the “little things” on a consistent basis. If study after study (and your own personal experience) tell you that what people want more than anything is to be recognized, why do we do it so infrequently? Catch people doing good things as often as you can, and you’ll find yourself creating a stronger connection with people much quicker than you ever have.
2. Don’t let you emotions drift into other situations. Have you ever been around somebody who gives you the cold shoulder out of the blue, even though you haven’t been around long enough to do anything wrong? These people are often still thinking about another event during the day that got under their skin, and have allowed it to have an impact on your relationship. Always deal with your emotions, and then be present with whoever or whatever requires your attention next.
3. Take feedback well. Sometimes, even if you don’t ask for it, people will tell you what they think of you or your performance. How you deal with this situation will greatly impact the level of closeness in your relationship with this person. Take it with grace, and you’ll be letting the other person know that they can truly tell you anything and the relationship will continue to grow. React poorly to it, and you’ll be starting the process decline of that relationship.
4. Explain your decisions, don’t just make them. If you want people to follow you and respect you, you need to explain why you make the decisions that you make. If you don’t, it’s inevitable that some people will think that you’ve missed a key issue and that you made the wrong decision. Then, the gossiping begins. On the other hand, if you take the time to explain how you came to your decision, people understand your thinking much more clearly, and then know what you did or didn’t consider. It also opens up a dialogue about the issue that is missing when all you give is the answers.
Emotions and emotional intelligence used to be considered the “soft stuff”. Not only was it not welcome in the business world, it was often looked upon as a weakness. Markets were won and lost on the backs of high IQs and hard work. However, as the authors and many scientists have been able to show, emotional intelligence not only leads to better relationships, it leads to better business. And I can’t think of a better reason to get in tune with my emotions.