Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Our emotional intelligence is based on a number of factors that all measure our ability to cope in social situations. Known as an emotional quotient (EQ) score, this is a fairly new concept that is based on traditional ideas about the way we manage ourselves and deal with our feelings and relationships with others.

There is no correlation between your IQ (intelligence quotient) and your EQ. We may be the cleverest person in the world but struggle to understand the moods and reactions of those around us. Alternatively, we may have a high EQ but struggle with an academic task such as an algebra equation.

The Five Sections of EQ

Generally, emotional intelligence can be categorized into five different sections:

  • Self-awareness: This is about knowing how our own mind works, having an understanding and acceptance of our own emotions.
  • Self-management: This allows us to be in control of our reactions to events, both internally and externally.
  • Self-motivation: Being able to reach for self-imposed goals without having to be pushed or motivated by external influences.
  • Empathy: Understanding how others react to situations and being able to feel for them as if we were in their position ourselves.
  • Relationships: Knowing how to get along with others in order to build successful teams, partnerships and friendships.

Our own emotional intelligence is made up of a combination of these categories. We may be better in one area and we can continuously improve our ability in all of them.

Why Is Emotional Intelligence Important?

We are constantly feeling emotions and knowing how to manage our emotions optimally generally increase our success in certain situations. For example, if we are working towards a promotion and our boss gives it to someone else, we could be tempted to overreact and raise our voice in frustration however, this could jeopardize our current job. Remaining composed until we have calmed down and can adequately communicate is how we can display emotional intelligence. Learning to be able to handle defeat graciously, no matter how unfair the circumstances, will allow us to be better positioned the next time an opportunity arises.

It has been proven that individuals with a high EQ tend to be more successful in their careers. This might be due to their ability to genuinely connect with their managers, clients and co-workers and thus build stronger relationships. In general, they will be better positioned to understand other’s decision making process and communicate effectively with greater ease.

Ways to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

When we make an honest commitment to growing in our self-awareness our emotional intelligence automatically increases. The first step in understanding emotional intelligence, is to witness our own emotions and reactions. When we take the time to reflect on situations that elicit strong emotional responses for us, we get to know ourselves better.

  • Next time you feel a strong emotion rising up in you take a pause and watch your feelings arise. Resist reacting. Instead, temporarily remove yourself from the situation.
  • Take three deep breaths and re-center yourself in your core. Deep down we have everything we need to handle the numerous situations and relationships in our life. Remember not to take things personally. Everyone is dealing with their own issues and often times people’s reactions are a biproduct of their own stress and anxiety rather than being a reflection on you.
  • Practice grace. We are all here to learn about ourselves and other people help us with our learning along the way. You will feel so much pride and peacefulness from being able to control your reactions, embracing your emotions without letting them control you. And it is also freeing not to get caught up in other people’s egos. With practice, we can learn to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, so that we are able to understand why they act the way they do. Remember to practice humility – be proud of your achievements and allow them to boost your confidence but learn to be graceful as well.

It is always a great idea to raise our self-awareness by taking a deeper look at ourselves. What are our strengths and weaknesses? We all have something we can work on and also certain things that come more naturally to us. The more we get to know ourselves, the easier it is take responsibility for our actions and reactions and thus improve our EQ. Working on our emotional intelligence is a great way to grow and evolve as a person. This is a process that lasts a lifetime, as we raise our awareness we will become more and more comfortable in our own skin, we will be less reactive and more accepting of others. Having a good EQ allows us to communicate directly and achieve more. We also end up getting better results from others as our relationships – both personal and professional will benefit from this heightened awareness. Most of all, enjoy the process of becoming enlightened – life only gets better this way!

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