How Would You Rate Your Emotional Intelligence?

A woman smiling

Are you familiar with the term emotional intelligence? Perhaps you’ve heard someone use it before, but it didn’t really ring a bell and you weren't in the mood to ask questions. Well, today is a great day to learn about emotional intelligence, don't you think?

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ) defines the ability to identify and understand one's emotions, including those of others and allowing the knowledge to influence your decisions and actions.

Every one of us has some level of emotional intelligence. We use it when we sympathize with a neighbor, bond with a loved one or interpret the mood of people around us to the best of our abilities. With emotional intelligence, we're able to form connections amongst ourselves and create healthy relationships.

EQ and IQ?

Do not make the mistake of confusing EQ with IQ. While EQ describes the ability to make sound judgments by processing your emotions and those of others, IQ or Intelligence Quotient refers to cognitive abilities which involve making decisions by processing information. Some people believe emotional intelligence is even more important than IQ. Imagine a straight A student who is socially awkward and unable to emotionally connect with people. I believe a healthy level of both is essential to thrive in society.

A Little Back Story

From the early nineties, researchers spoke about emotional intelligence. In the year 1990, Peter Salovey and John Mayer defined the term as “the ability to recognize, understand, utilize, and regulate emotions effectively in everyday life”. Their work sparked an interest in the subject amongst psychologists and other individuals. Daniel Goleman published the world famous book emotional intelligence in the year 1995 shedding more light on the subject. Since then, numerous researches and studies have been carried out to determine or discuss the importance of emotional intelligence and its significance in our personal and professional life.

Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is characterised by five components which includes the following:

Self-awareness

Self-awareness describes the ability to identify and understand one's emotions. It’s the first vital step in being emotionally aware. Understanding an emotion you feel makes it easier to relate to it in someone else. Unfortunately, not everyone can boast of being in tune with their emotions.

While humans may share lots of similarities, one thing may trigger different emotional responses from people. By being self-aware, you are fully conscious of your strengths and weaknesses, you know the kind of things that upset you and what keeps you feeling excited. Nowadays, it is easier to escape the reality of our emotions and all thanks to the myriad of distractions we entertain. Reality always finds expression though, so it's best to be proactive.

Self-regulation

Being able to recognize your feelings alone does not qualify you as a person with high emotional intelligence. The ability to properly channel and manage your emotions, exhibit self-control and be able to avoid impulsive or explosive reactions is equally important. You are also not afraid to take responsibility for your actions and you try to express yourself without bringing down fire and brimstone. Can you think of any highly volatile person? And, those quick to pass the blame onto others for their misfortune without ever considering the part they played in it? Well, now you know what the real problem is.

Motivation

Everyone needs motivation at some point in life. The difference is people with varying levels of emotional intelligence are motivated by different things. Usually, a person with high emotional intelligence is goal driven, so they generate primary motivation from within rather than from external factors including peer pressure, fame and wealth. Inner motivation fosters commitment to a course and optimism despite setbacks.

Empathy

To demonstrate empathy, you require the ability to recognize emotions in other people. This does not necessarily mean you affirm their reactions or responses, but being an emotional being yourself you are able to relate with how they’re feeling by putting yourself in their shoes. Empathy is essential in understanding someone’s perspective, experience or belief. By showing empathy, you can develop a relationship with people even when you've only met them a short while.

Social awareness

Finally, an emotionally intelligent person is able to have meaningful interactions with people. Understanding how emotions work puts you in a position to communicate better and have successful relationships in your personal and professional life.

Signs of High Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a trait that can be expressed by different individuals at varying levels. That being said, let’s examine the characteristics of those with high and low EI. For people on the high end of the spectrum:

  • They are able to achieve a healthy balance between personal and professional life.
  • They do not fear change instead they accept it as a part of life
  • They show empathy towards others
  • They have a curious and open mind
  • They’re able to maintain focus and avoid distractions
  • They are fully aware and take advantages of their strength while acknowledging their weaknesses
  • They easily forgive

Signs of Low EI

Those on the lower end of the EI spectrum may exhibit the following:

  • They lack the ability to properly manage their emotions
  • They do not understand other people’s emotions, including those of close relations
  • People find it difficult to understand or read them
  • They are unable to foster healthy relationships both at work or personal life
  • They do not enjoy emotional moments in movie scenes or books
  • They are unable to show sympathy towards others
  • They show inappropriate emotions
  • They downplay emotions and emphasize the need to be calm or cool

Why is EI Important?

Whether you accept it or not, emotions are an essential part of our existence and we need to embrace them. Being emotionally intelligent gives you the ability to understand yourself better and form deeper bonds with those around you. This will influence your overall happiness and well-being. In addition to being emotional beings, we are also social beings. The authenticity of our relationship with others greatly influence our success and happiness.

How to Improve EI

With most things in life, you can improve if you make a little effort. Here are some things you can try to improve your EI:

Practice Self-awareness

Understand how your surroundings, people or different scenarios affect your emotions. Sometimes, we’d rather spend hours on social media than come to terms with what we might tag “an ugly feeling”. Yes, self-awareness might reveal some unpleasant or uncomfortable things, but if we feel those things then it's saying something about us. Take some time away from distractions, be it work or online banter, you can try practicing mindfulness meditation. Basically, create time to simply find out how you’re feeling. It might just be a few minutes.

Accept your Emotions

Humans label emotions as either good or bad, but the truth is there is no such thing. Okay, let's say it's subjective. Our reactions to these emotions are what we can always classify as negative or positive. Anger can fuel the drive to do something positive and make necessary changes while joy can be derived from hurting other people. So emotions by themselves aren't good or bad, but your response could be either. While you may not like what you discovered about yourself, take note of the information and determine an appropriate reaction.

Properly Channel your Emotions

The ability to express and properly channel one's emotion is a huge indicator of emotional intelligence. You know when to be silent, when to speak up, decide what is important and what is negligible. For some people, this concept might not seem possible. If you need help learning to manage your emotions, you can seek the help of a counselor or therapist. Even a conversation with a friend or family member you trust and respect can help. That’s totally okay, you shouldn’t feel ashamed at all.

Show Empathy or Compassion

The primary essence of improving emotional intelligence is to form healthier relationships. Emotional intelligent people will probably not troll someone on the internet when they’re fully aware how hurtful it could be. Show empathy, see through others' perspectives. Value those around you and treat them how you’d like to be treated.

Check out Daniel Goleman’s ted video “why aren’t we all Good Samaritans?

Parting Words

As emotional beings, it makes sense to want to use our emotions to our advantage. A higher emotional intelligence can help us lead better lives and foster better connections with those around us.

How would you rate your emotional intelligence on a scale of 1 to 10? Think about it.