Would you say you’re intelligent if the question were posed to you? Maybe you’ve always done well in school, and people have always told you that you’re smart; of course you’d say you’re intelligent. What if they asked if you were emotionally intelligent? How would you answer? To determine this, you wouldn’t look to your grades, but instead your relationships.
The Dictionary defines Emotional Intelligence as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
While intellectual ability certainly plays a role in the success you’ll see in life, more people are becoming increasingly aware that how you relate to others is just as important. Your emotional intelligence determines how you function in relationships, both working and personal, and being in tune with the feelings and needs of yourself and others.
Below, we’ll take a look at the basics of determining Emotional Intelligence, its benefits, and ways to work on developing your EQ (Emotional Quotient).
Being self-aware means you understand your feelings and emotions, what causes them, and how they affect you. You understand your strengths as well as weaknesses, and how to best apply them in situations.
For example, I’m an introvert who can come across as standoffish. I’m aware that my tendency to keep to myself can at times come off very negative to others. Since I’m aware of this, in certain settings, I make adjustments to my demeanor so that I don’t seem as if I have a bad attitude, causing others to be uncomfortable.
This is when you know how to control your emotions and impulses so that they don’t consume or get the best of you.
Think about social media. Do you ever find yourself reacting negatively to something you see? An example of low emotional intelligence would be to follow accounts that evoke negative feelings; for instance, there are a lot of celebrities and public figures on social media with thousands of followers who do nothing but leave negative comments under their posts. They’re being consumed by negativity in that moment. An example of higher emotional intelligence is to see a post that you notice doesn’t make you feel good, check your impulse to respond negatively, and keep scrolling.
Being socially aware is the ability to empathize with others, and pick up on social and emotional cues.
When you enter into a communal space, particularly one that has its own culture, being socially aware helps to better navigate that space. Think about going somewhere like a gym. You might just want to use the treadmill, but you notice they're all in use. Being socially aware means you know you either have to wait until it’s available or do something else; you’re not going to just start using the treadmill when someone else is using it. If you take classes, being socially aware means you read the room and take note of the energy. If you walk into an aerobics class and everyone has their step platforms facing a certain way, you know to face your step the same way. If everyone in class is wearing sneakers, you know not to wear heels. If you walk into a yoga class and the mats are facing one way, you know which way to face your mat. If you see everyone’s shoes and belongings placed along the wall and everyone in class is barefoot, you take the cue to remove your shoes and you’re not going to sit your gym bag next to you. You might even speak softer because the room is more quiet and serene as opposed to the high energy and loud music in an aerobics class.
You have the ability to develop and maintain healthy relationships.
Whether you’re managing your personal relationships, or you’re in a leadership position where you’re responsible for maintaining a functional and harmonious environment among different personalities, being able to effectively manage relationships requires one to be self-aware, socially aware, and able to self-regulate. When you have an awareness about yourself where you know what you bring to the table, as well as an awareness of the qualities another person is bringing in, that’s a foundation developing a relationship. A healthy relationship is a result of being able to effectively communicate, empathize, and resolve conflicts.
Developing Emotional Intelligence
There are several ways in which you can actively practice improving your Emotional Intelligence.
Listed below are a few ways of getting started in practicing increasing your EQ, and you can practice in these areas often:
Active listening: practice being present when engaging with others. Practice listening to engage and understand, instead of listening to respond.
Taking criticism: practice not taking criticism personally. Consider the source of the criticism and practice gauging where a person is coming from.
Being mindful of how others make you feel and how others feel around you: start paying attention to how you feel when in the presence of others. Does a person’s presence cause you to feel anxious, happy, or upset? Also, practice paying attention to how others receive your presence.
Now that you have a better idea of what emotional intelligence is, do you believe you are emotionally intelligent? What are some areas you can work on to increase your level of emotional intelligence? In what ways have you noticed how your emotional intelligence plays out in your life?