Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of your own emotions/reactions to different situations or environments, as well as being able to read others emotions with empathy and understanding.
Much like regular intelligence, Emotional intelligence can be learnt/taught. The most effective way to increase our emotional intelligence is to put ourselves in positions where we can practice our emotional intelligence, such as having emotional discussions with friends or attempting to resolve conflict with family members.
There are a number of elements to emotional intelligence. They are Self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.
Self-awareness is the most important element of emotional intelligence as without assessing our own emotional responses and our ability to change them, we cannot expect to have a high degree of emotional intelligence. Being aware of our own actions and reactions gives us more control over how we are perceived by others. Being self-aware also helps to identify weaknesses in ourselves. Once identified, we can take steps to improve them.
Self-regulation is the next step after self-awareness. Being aware of something is great but if we don't act upon this knowledge, it is pointless. Regulating our own emotions by understanding our own paradigms and thought processes will make us able to turn negative emotional situations in to positive ones.
Motivation comes naturally to people with high emotional intelligence. Being able to assess their own emotional condition means can stay motivated for long term goals, as short term distractions and difficult emotional situations don't weigh as heavily.
Empathy is a crucial element of emotional intelligence. It is the ability to feel and view from another person's point of view. Recognising the feelings and emotions of others helps to connect us with a wide variety of individuals, instead of just a small fraction of people that we feel are similar to ourselves. Being able to listen and immerse yourself in the situation or viewpoints of others greatly increases our ability to get along with others.
Social skills are somewhat of a summary of all the other elements. Our social skills improve when we improve our self-awareness, empathy, and act upon the increased awareness of our emotional and social surroundings. People with high levels of emotional intelligence and thus high levels of social skills are highly sought after, especially in group/team settings. This can be in sports teams, circles of friends and especially workplaces.
Self-evaluating is a great strategy to keep track of one's own emotional reactions to different situations. We can see in which areas we are excelling, and which areas we are struggling with. As an example, if somebody talks to you in a disrespectful way, do you respond with logic and reason? Or do you begin to let anger and emotion divert from your general goal? Our goal can quickly change from attempting to reach a mutually beneficial conclusion, to wanting to recover our emotional well-being.
Whilst everyone can benefit from improving their emotional intelligence, those who are in leadership positions (or plan to be) will greatly benefit from the enhanced level of connection and rapport that would be maintained with clients, employees, family, friends, customers etc. People in leadership/management roles inevitably are put in stressful, difficult situations, sometimes on a regular basis. It is during these stressful times that our lack of emotional intelligence really inflicts the most damage on our lives. The impact can be compounded due to the web of connections we often have in leadership roles. In these high-stress and high-emotion situations, we humans tend to lose perspective on what effect our emotions are having on our decision-making. Those who increase their emotional intelligence are more adept at keep an open view of difficult situations and have an easier time keeping their self-control.
We live in a world where interacting with 50 people a day is normal. We make thousands of decisions per day and all are made with emotion playing a large part. Without making a conscious effort to improve our emotional intelligence, we are severely limiting our potential to improve not only our own way of life, but that of everyone around us.*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.