What is emotional intelligence and do you have it?


intelligence (EI) has nothing to do with how many CXCs or degrees you have and everything to do with your capacity to recognise your own, other people’s emotions and use the information to guide thinking and behaviour. There is no correlation or link between IQ and EI.

EI is often confused with being happy, optimistic or agreeable and while these characteristics may enhance life, this is not emotional intelligence. Instead, EI is personal and social competence. It is having personal awareness or the ability to perceive and stay aware of emotions and personal management where the awareness is used to focus emotions in a positive way. Also, it is having social awareness and social management; the ability to pick up on others’ emotions and using the awareness to manage interactions successfully.

There are four stages of emotional intelligence and it has been argued that these skills can be developed; they are not just part of an individual’s personality. The first step is to perceive emotions accurately like picking up on body language, facial expressions and other non-verbal communications. Secondly, reasoning with those emotions; using them to direct thinking and reactions. Next is to understand the origin of the emotion – is it a result of something you did or an outside influence? What does it mean? Finally is the response, which is critical in managing emotions effectively and responding to the emotions of others.

So what are the advantages of being emotionally intelligent? We are more able to manage behaviour, navigate social difficulties, make sound personal decisions and achieve positive results. Not only can it help to achieve success in personal relationships but it has been directly linked to successful careers and higher salaries. Being in tune with people around you allows you to read and understand them. It means you will be able to get the most of others because you recognise when they are experiencing certain emotions and you can respond accordingly. This reaction can be significant in how people view and respond to you; mostly in a positive light.

Another reason EI is advantageous is that understanding ourselves better is the first step to knowing what we need as individuals to make us happy, fulfilled and content. Just as importantly, being aware of what makes us sad or angry, and recognising when these feelings are building allows us to manage them and be thoughtfully reactive. If we are unsure what makes us feel a certain way, or indeed are unable to recognise feelings when we experiencing them, how can we hope to be in control of our happiness? Before we can choose a compatible partner, do we not first need to know what we are looking for? How can we decide if someone is right for us if we are unaware of what we need?

In order to improve EI, there are areas we can work on. These include self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. Self-regulation concentrates on staying in control and managing emotions. To do this, we can employ calming techniques, pausing and thinking about reasons behind certain emotions, and taking responsibility for actions and behaviour.

To increase motivation, people need to work on self-discipline; setting and reaching long-term goals while celebrating small wins along the way in order to appreciate achievements.

Developing empathy by thinking about others viewpoints enhances EI. Practising active listening allows for a deeper understanding and stronger connections.

Finally, social skills such as developing trust, building good working relations, not shying away from conflict but finding ways to resolve it, all build confidence.

Being emotionally intelligent gives a substantial element of control to our lives and our happiness. Developing this type of intelligence can help you to be calm in a crisis, understand what to say to people to make them feel better, inspire people to take action and be resilient in the face of adversity. Go develop your own!!!