Building Emotional Intelligence – One Step at a Time

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Health & Welfare, Psychology, Social & Youth development,

Image shows four sad emoticons and one happy emoticon hanging by a thread

Building emotional intelligence from a young age will ensure a strong personality later in life. That does not mean you cannot build up a strong emotional intelligence at any point in your life. You might have come across someone whose personality grabbed your attention, while also wishing to develop that aspect in yourself. Though it might seem like an impossible feat, anyone can build up their emotional intelligence with hard work and determination. Before we get into the methods, let us discuss what emotional intelligence is.

What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ/EI)?

In simple terms, EI is recognizing, understanding, managing and influencing the feelings and emotions of oneself and others around you. According to some experts, having high EQ is more important than having a high intelligence quotient (IQ). Having high emotional intelligence means being empathetic and aware of how one’s actions can affect the people around them. Moreover, it proves beneficial at workplaces and other social events.

In simple terms, EI is recognizing, understanding, managing and influencing the feelings and emotions of oneself and others around you. According to some experts, having high EQ is more important than having a high intelligence quotient (IQ). Having high emotional intelligence means being empathetic and aware of how one’s actions can affect the people around them. Moreover, it proves beneficial at workplaces and other social events.

The image is the cover page of the book "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ" by Daniel Goleman
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman | Credit: Amazon

Components of Emotional Intelligence

There are four main components of emotional intelligence – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management – each of their characteristics intrinsically woven around each other. Each of the four components can be categorized as “recognition” and “regulation” of thoughts and feelings. While self-awareness and social awareness come under the recognition umbrella, self-management and relationship management come under the latter.

Self-awareness

Being in touch with one’s feelings and emotions is hard work. More often than not, we actually forget or consciously neglect our emotions in certain situations. Once you learn to recognize your thoughts and assess them, it would help in boosting your self-confidence as well.

Being in touch with one’s feelings and emotions is hard work. More often than not, we actually forget or consciously neglect our emotions in certain situations. Once you learn to recognize your thoughts and assess them, it would help in boosting your self-confidence as well.

One who is socially aware is empathetic, approachable, and a good listener. In any given situation, every person acts differently. Therefore, recognizing the concerns and emotional cues would help while working in a group or for an organization.

Self-management

Managing your thoughts, feelings and emotions comes after the stage of recognition. Self-management includes characteristics like self-control, adapting easily to surroundings and situations, and being transparent. Some other characteristics are being good at taking initiative and always being optimistic.

Relationship Management

Developing a good relationship with others, and being a positive influence on others are some of the characteristics evident in people with high EQ. They can become coaches and mentors, a catalyst for change, and good leaders with qualities that others would look up to.

Importance of Building Emotional Intelligence

Building emotional intelligence is more important than IQ
EQ+IQ=SUCCESS | Credit: http://bitly.ws/s5Nj

As mentioned before, it’s your EQ that matters more in daily life more than your IQ. Though intellectual ability is important, a person will only gain profits if it’s balanced with emotional intelligence. Having a strong emotional intelligence is advantageous in various fields in different situations. Apart from that, looking at it from a broader perspective, developing EQ benefits the whole world. Everyone hopes and dreams for a peaceful and happy world. Only if every person were to work on themselves to increase their EQ, can we achieve a better future.

Mental Health

Emotionally intelligent people are found to be less depressed and anxious. This is because they are aware of how certain circumstances could affect their stress levels and mental health. If you are able to control your emotions, especially at the workplace, it could lead you to form healthy relationships with your colleagues. People with low emotional intelligence are often vulnerable to insecurity, making them isolated and adversely affecting their mental health. This is often the case with adolescents, who then fall victim to bullying.

Personal and Social Relationships

People with high emotional intelligence find it easy to form relationships in their personal and social life. This is possible because they understand and control their own emotions while also understanding how others are feeling. As compared to those with low emotional intelligence, people with high EQ get involved in fewer arguments and are not afraid to speak up. They will find it easy to strike up a conversation with strangers in any kind of setting.

Performance in School and Work

Emotionally high intelligent people have great problem-solving skills. With the lack of unnecessary stress, they flourish at their workplace or in school. Experts say that these days, many companies focus on hiring more people with high emotional intelligence. High EQ people are ambitious and determined to achieve their dreams, while also motivating others to succeed.

Personal Development

Cultivating emotional intelligence will help in self-awareness as you are constantly introspecting your thoughts, feelings and actions. Understanding why you suppress some feelings or discovering emotions you had buried deep will help in knowing your identity. Realizing your worth will give you a purpose in life as well. People with high EQ are empathetic in nature which allows them to understand how others are feeling and act accordingly.

Physical Health

A healthy mind means a healthy body. When you are a pro at controlling your emotions, the stress level and anxiety reduce subsequently. The positive effects are evident in your body physically. The blood pressure decreases, the risk of heart strokes reduces and your immune system gets strong. The positivity seen in people with high emotional intelligence drives them to maintain a healthy life physically.

Steps on Building Emotional Intelligence

Although building emotional intelligence from childhood is the most beneficial, there really is no particular time to start. Begin with simple steps and work your way towards the harder tasks.

Practice Mindfulness

Identifying what you are feeling is the first key to being emotionally intelligent. Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of where and what we are doing in a given moment. Being mindful gives you the skill to pay attention to your present.

Sit down for a set period of time, say 10 minutes, avoid distractions like social media and focus on yourself. Focus on the emotions that you are feeling and the reason behind them. Sometimes it might be difficult to figure it out but take your time and understand it.

A woman sitting outside meditating
Take time to practise mindfulness | Credit: http://bitly.ws/s5No

Practising mindfulness has been proven to bring about a positive mentality as you begin to understand different perspectives. It gives you the chance to understand how your emotions and thoughts affect those around you. This in turn will help you to nurture empathy for others, and build stronger relationships.

Know your triggers

Start writing a diary where you note your daily emotions and why they arose. Doing this will help you understand what triggers those emotions and how you can prevent them. If you had a heated argument at the workplace or school, take time to understand the cause behind it later. By doing this you will understand how to bypass the triggers that caused the outburst and develop your emotional intelligence.

Accept your emotions

No matter how bad or ugly your thoughts and emotions are, own up to it. Once you understand that your emotions are your own regardless of their nature, only then can you work on improving your behaviour. Forget what you have been taught about the bad implications of the open display of emotions. Accept and appreciate your emotions. It will help in improving your emotional intelligence.

Manage your emotions

After you have recognized and accepted your emotions, the next step for building emotional intelligence would be to manage them. In order to do that, you need an outlet for any and all kinds of emotions you are feeling. Keeping your emotions to yourself can be quite damaging.

If you are angry, you have to find a non-destructive way to let it out. For instance, distance yourself from people for a short period of time and go out for a walk. Let yourself calm down and organize your thoughts. Try not to make any decisions when you are angry. But sometimes, anger is helpful while fighting against injustice. So, find a way to use your anger justly.

At other times, when you are bursting with happiness, share that with people around you. People around you might be having a bad day and could benefit from sharing your happiness with you.

Motivate yourself

Faith in oneself is what most people lack. Building emotional intelligence means you have to develop a deep sense of belief in yourself. Before starting working towards a goal, you have to believe that your decisions and actions will succeed.

Affirmations help a great deal in motivating oneself. Write down a list of positive affirmations and stick them in front of your desk. Make sure to read them aloud every day before starting your work or schoolwork. It has been backed up by science that doing this daily makes your brain absorb them as facts and consequently builds up self-competence.

Your failure does not mean you have to stop aiming big. On the contrary, write down your dreams but keep modifying them as per your strengths. In addition to that, be realistic and open to learning something new that comes your way. This helps in broadening your goals as a whole.

Improve your Social Skills

Daniel Goleman suggests observing a person with high emotional intelligence, to improve your social skills. First, discern how they use their social skills to interact with others and then try implementing them in your own life. However, taking that first step is always hard for someone who is used to hiding behind others.

Illustration of four peeople conversing with each other
Communication is key to building emotional intelligence | Credit: http://bitly.ws/rYTM

Even when you are not actively taking part in a conversation, your facial expressions say a lot about your thoughts. Recognizing the small change in facial muscles can hint at what others are conveying and help you to respond accordingly. Thus, this plays a huge role in improving your relationships.

A key step in building emotional intelligence is to speak up about your opinions fearlessly. In fact, asserting yourself will help build a strong personality who is not afraid to state their beliefs. This will in turn make others trust and respect you, further deepening your relationships.

Conclusion

Despite the fast-pacing life, everyone is leading these days with only social media as their companion, more people are becoming conscious of their actions. On the whole, they are becoming more attuned to themselves and their emotions. Similarly, people are having open discussions about emotional intelligence and spreading awareness about building emotional intelligence. A bright future with more positivity, self-awareness, and heart-to-heart conversations does not seem too far.

References

Desti, K., & Shanthi, R. (2015). A Study on Emotional Intelligence at Work Place. European Journal of. Business and Management, 7, 147-154.

Shipley, N. L., Jackson, M. J., & Segrest, S. L. (2010). The effects of emotional intelligenceagework experience, and academic performance. Research in Higher Education Journal, 9, 1-18.

Segal, Jeanne; Smith, Melinda; Robinson, Lawrence; Shubin Jennifer. “Improving Emotional Intelligence (EQ)”. HelpGuide.

Cherry, Kendra. “What is Emotional Intelligence?”. Verywell Mind. 03 June 2020.

Manson, Mark. “5 Skills to Help You Develop Emotional Intelligence”. Mark Manson. 11 April 2019.

Tags: Emotional Intelligence, leadership, Mental Health, motivation, Personality Development, positivity, self-awarenes,


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