Menanteau Serfontein – 13 August 2021
In 1995, psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman published the book entitled “Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ” introducing most of the world to the nascent concept of emotional intelligence. The idea that an ability to understand and manage emotions greatly increases our chances of success, quickly took off, and it went on to significantly influence the way people think about emotions and human behaviour.
What is Emotional Intelligence or EQ?
Emotional intelligence (otherwise known as Emotional Quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence helps you build stronger relationships, succeed at school and work, and achieve your career and personal goals. It can also help you to connect with your feelings, turn intention into action, and make informed decisions about what matters most to you.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is commonly defined by four attributes:
- Self-management– You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviours, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments and adapt to changing circumstances.
- Self-awareness– You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behaviour. You know your strengths and weaknesses and have self-confidence.
- Social awareness– You have empathy. You can understand the emotions, needs and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
- Relationship management– You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team and manage conflict.
Justin Bariso went further and through research, he identified 13 actions that illustrate how EQ appears in the real world:
1. You think about feelings
Bariso says that EQ begins with “thinking about feelings” which means self- and social awareness, i.e. the ability to recognize emotions (and their impact) in both yourself and others.
That awareness begins with reflection. You ask questions like:
- What are my emotional strengths? What are my weaknesses?
- How does my current mood affect my thoughts and decision making?
- What’s going on under the surface that influences what others say or do?
Pondering questions like these yield valuable insights that can be used to your advantage.
2. You pause
The pause is as simple as taking a moment to stop and think (Read: “You Become What You Think – Renewing Your Mind”) before you speak or act. (Easy in theory, difficult in practice.) This can save you from embarrassing moments, or from making commitments too quickly. In other words, pausing helps you refrain from making a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion.
3. You strive to control your thoughts
You don’t have much control over the emotion you experience in a given moment. But you can control your reaction to those emotions by focusing on your thoughts. (As it’s been said: “You can’t prevent a bird from landing on your head, but you can keep it from building a nest.”)
By learning to control (Read: “Self-Control and Self-Restraint”) your thoughts, you resist becoming a slave to your emotions, allowing yourself to live in a way that’s in harmony with your values, principles and goals. (Read: “The Need to Adhere to Traditional Universal (Absolute) Values and Principles”)
4. You benefit from criticism
Nobody enjoys negative feedback, but you know that criticism is a chance to learn, even if it’s not delivered in the best way. And even when it’s unfounded, it gives you a window into how others think.
When you receive negative feedback, keep your emotions in check and ask yourself:
How can this make me better?
5. You show authenticity
Authenticity doesn’t mean sharing everything about yourself to everyone, all of the time.
It does mean saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and sticking to your values and principles (Read: “The Need to Adhere to Traditional Universal (Absolute) Values and Principles”) above all else. You know that not everyone will appreciate your sharing your thoughts and feelings, but that the ones who matter, will.
6. You demonstrate empathy
The ability to show empathy which includes understanding others’ thoughts and feelings, helps you connect with others. Instead of judging or labelling others, you work hard to see things through their eyes.
Empathy doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with another person’s point of view. Rather, it’s about striving to understand, which allows you to build deeper, more connected relationships.
7. You praise others
All of us value acknowledgement and appreciation. When you sincerely commend others, you demonstrate that you have noticed something good and build trust in the process.
This all begins when you focus on the good in others. Then, by sharing what you appreciate about them, you inspire them to be the best version of themselves.
8. You give helpful feedback
Negative feedback has great potential to hurt the feelings of others. Realizing this, you provide constructive feedback instead of criticism, so the recipient sees it as helpful, instead of harmful.
9. You apologize
It takes strength and courage to be able to say you’re sorry, but doing so demonstrates honesty (Read: “Integrity and Honesty”) and humility (Read: “Humility vs the BIG ME”), which are important ingredients in most constructive relationships.
EQ helps you to realize that apologizing doesn’t always mean you’re wrong. It does mean valuing your relationship more than your ego.
10. You forgive and forget
Hanging onto resentment is like leaving a knife inside a wound. While the offending party moves on with their life, you never give yourself the chance to heal.
When you forgive and forget, you prevent others from holding your emotions hostage, allowing you to move forward.
11. You keep your commitments
It’s common nowadays for people to break an agreement or commitment when they feel like it. Of course, bailing on an evening of Netflix with a friend will cause less harm than breaking a promise to your child or missing a major business deadline. But when you make a habit of keeping your word – in things big and small – you develop a strong reputation for reliability and trustworthiness. (Read: “Duty, Trustworthiness, Reliability, Dependability and Faithfulness”)
12. You help others
One of the greatest ways to positively impact the emotions of others is to help them. Most people don’t really care much where you graduated from, or even about your previous accomplishments. What does matter, is coming alongside someone to listen or help out. Actions like these build trust and inspire others to follow your lead when it counts.
13. You protect yourself from emotional sabotage
You realize that EQ also has a dark side – such as when individuals attempt to manipulate others’ emotions to promote a personal agenda or for some other selfish cause. That’s why one of the reasons to continue to sharpen your own EQ, is to protect yourself when they do.
Why is emotional intelligence so important?
As we know, it’s not the smartest people who are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. You probably know people with high intellectual ability, i.e. high Intelligence Quotient (IQ), who are academically brilliant and yet are socially inept and unsuccessful at work or in their personal relationships. Your intellectual ability (IQ) isn’t enough on its own to achieve success in life. Yes, your IQ can help you get into college, but it’s your EQ that will help you manage the stress and emotions when facing your final exams. IQ and EQ exist in tandem and are most effective when they complement one another.
Emotional intelligence affects the following:
Your performance at school or work. High emotional intelligence can help you navigate the social complexities of the workplace, lead and motivate others, and excel in your career. In fact, when it comes to gauging important job candidates, many companies now rate emotional intelligence and technical ability as equally important and employ EQ testing before hiring.
Your physical health. If you’re unable to manage your emotions, you are probably not managing your stress either. This can lead to serious health problems. Uncontrolled stress raises blood pressure, suppresses the immune system, increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, contributes to infertility and speeds up the ageing process. The first step to improving emotional intelligence is to learn how to manage stress.
Your mental health. Uncontrolled emotions and stress can also impact your mental health, making you vulnerable to anxiety and depression. If you are unable to understand, get comfortable with, or manage your emotions, you’ll also struggle to form strong relationships. This in turn can leave you feeling lonely and isolated and further exacerbate any mental health problems.
Your relationships. By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’re better able to express how you feel and understand how others are feeling. This allows you to communicate more effectively and forge stronger relationships, both at work and in your personal life.
Your social intelligence. Being in tune with your emotions serves a social purpose, connecting you to other people and the world around you. Social intelligence enables you to recognize friend from foe, measure another person’s interest in you, reduce stress, balance your nervous system through social communication and feel loved and happy.
Building Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
It is essential for all of us to understand:
- What EQ is,
- How important it is and
- Why it is necessary to consciously continue improving our personal EQ.
Most of the content of this Article was derived from the following sources:
- Article entitled “13 Signs of High Emotional Intelligence” by Justin Bariso –28 Feb 2018 https://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/13-things-emotionally-intelligent-people-do.html
- Article entitled “Improving Emotional Intelligence” – Authors: Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jennifer Shubin – Last updated: July 2021 https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/emotional-intelligence-eq.htm