Emotional intelligence or EI or EQ. Why do we want it, how do we find ways to boost it?
Emotional intelligence is described as ‘the ability to monitor one's own and other people's emotions; to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour’. (Coleman)
When emotional Intelligence was introduced in the 1980’s, it answered the question of why people with average IQ’s could outperform those with the highest IQ’s in many areas of life, revealing that traditional IQ does not fully explain ability. The ideas of interpersonal intelligence (the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people) and intrapersonal intelligence (the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one's feelings, fears and motivations) were introduced.
US born author and psychologist Daniel Goleman, is thought to be the father of Emotional Intelligence. He authored the book Emotional Intelligence in 1995, then developed the argument that non-cognitive or ‘soft’ skills can matter as much as IQ for workplace success.
Emotional Intelligence is generally broken down into four parts: self awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social management, and has strong links to increased levels of motivation, improved social awareness and relationship skills, and increased ability to focus and to relax.
So if we all agree that there are some compelling reasons to be emotionally intelligent, how do we do boost our emotional intelligence?
Here are some tips to assist you to build your EI and generally feel happier and more in charge of life:
Open your eyes.
This is all about self awareness and daring to have a good look in the metaphorical mirror. Start building your awareness of who you are, and how you do what you do. What do you believe about the world? How do you speak to yourself? How do you speak to others? What emotions do you regularly experience and are they the ones you want to be experiencing? What are your triggers and what are your strategies? And do these strategies of yours serve and support you, or are they working against you?
For example, let’s say getting stuck in traffic is a trigger of yours, or maybe a trigger for you is someone cutting you off on the road. How do you respond? Do you fume or yell or slam or do you laugh? How long does your response last? Does it set up your day or is it a moment in time?
Learning about yourself can seem scary to some people, although it is the biggest key to building your emotional intelligence and generally feeling happier more often and experiencing positive mental health.
You can start to build your self awareness by attending a workshop, or completing some online profiles, or find a coach you trust. You will be glad you did.
Accept what you see.
The thing that scares most people from building their self awareness is that they won’t like what they find out or they will decide that they have been doing it all ‘wrong’ all this time and that gives us a good excuse to beat ourselves up about who we are. The thing is that we are all human and we didn’t come out of the womb with a hand book and automatic knowledge of how to be emotionally intelligent and live life ‘right’.
Learn how to give up on emotions of blame, guilt, judgement, criticism and expectations by experiencing present moment awareness more often. You don’t have to learn how to be a Buddhist monk to experience the here and now. You can connect to the present moment through breathing techniques and mindfulness training is readily available.
Regret blame and guilt are in the past, worry and anxiety are in the future, love and peace are only truly available to us in the present.
Build your emotional vocabulary.
We all experience a range of emotions, but not many of us can accurately identify them. Feelings are complex bio-chemical realities and naming them can sometimes be a challenge. People with high EQ can identify feeling irritable or frustrated from just feeling ‘off’ or ‘bad’. The more specifically you can name your emotion, the more chance you have to work out how you are feeling and why, and what you can do about it.
Get the message
In Tony Robbins’ best seller ‘Awaken the Giant Within, he talks about how painful emotions can be ‘Action Signals’ that send messages to us. For example, anger can often be masking hurt or loss, and frustration can be taken as a positive and exciting signal that your brain believes that you could be achieving more than you are currently.
One of the most important of the emotional intelligence skills is empathy. When we learn how to associate with others’ emotions and perspectives, we can better consider how our words and actions might affect others, and we can make more positive choices as a result.
Without empathy there is no humanity, no genuine cooperation or possibility of positive human relationships. The more genuine empathy we can develop, the more impossible it is for us to knowingly hurt each other.
- Carl Jung