It’s human nature to change and we all strive for personal growth and to be the best versions of ourselves. We go to school to improve our linguistic and logical intelligence, as we go through life, we learn to improve our intrapersonal intelligence (what we feel and want from the world), but we rarely think about emotional intelligence. Read on to find out more about emotional intelligence and how you can improve yours and become a more balanced and intuitive person.
What is emotional intelligence?
First of all, what is emotional intelligence, and is it something you can gain? Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your emotions and understand the emotions of others. Being able to regulate and recognize your emotions and knowing what they mean is a skill that can be learned, and it all begins with awareness. Emotional Intelligence is a term that was coined by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer in the 1990s. The concept of having an EQ has become a widely accepted concept over the years but some psychologists don’t favor it because no test can capture a person’s EQ.
What are the components of emotional intelligence?
The main components of emotional intelligence include self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and social skills. As emotional intelligence is a set of skills and behaviors, some people may thrive in more components than others. It’s also important to note that neurodivergent or disability factors may directly impact a person’s emotional intelligence.
Having empathy for other people and having the ability to feel the same way as someone else isn't a skill that everyone has but those who can do this are usually excellent listeners, proactive and good in a crisis, all traits that can help in certain situations in life. Emotional intelligence is important, and the highest emotional intelligence is often found in managers and leaders. Research has shown us that although intellectual intelligence can help us progress in the world of work and education, it is our abilities to be kind to others, nurture relationships, and understand our feelings that help us thrive in life.
Low and high emotional intelligence
So, what does it mean to have low emotional intelligence? People who have a low EQ often feel misunderstood, become easily overwhelmed by their emotions, and get upset easily, especially when faced with conflict.
Those with a higher emotional intelligence understand the link between their emotions and behavior. They react in a calm and composed manner in stressful situations and can handle people with tact and diplomacy. People with a high EQ are usually confident and assertive and have a high awareness of themselves, how they feel and what they want out of life.
How to improve your emotional intelligence
Emotionally intelligent people can utilize their emotions, are motivated to manage tasks and solve problems more effectively and are connected to who they are and what they value in life. So, it comes as no surprise that people would want to improve their emotional intelligence.
So where do you begin?
First, it’s important to understand your emotions and the best way to do this is to practice observing how you feel. It’s hard to engage with our emotions when we all live such hectic lives but giving yourself a moment to reconnect to yourself on how you are feeling will improve your emotional intelligence. Pay attention to your body, your breath, and any sensations you might feel and try to identify the emotion. Try to go deeper than the emotions of happiness, sadness, and anger. Do you feel safe? Content with your life? Are you struggling with something and feeling hopeless or tired? Over time you will find it easier to identify the emotion you are feeling and know how to help yourself if you don’t feel great.
During the time you are practicing your emotional awareness, also look at the way you are behaving in your day-to-day life and once you become conscious of your behavior you will be able to address any problems that do not benefit you. It’s also important to take responsibility for your feelings and notice if something isn’t creating a positive impact on your life or the life of those around you. Know that improving your emotional intelligence is a lifetime process and you should celebrate the positive moments you encounter in your journey but also reflect and understand the negative moments too and what you learned from them. Just breathe, be aware, and know your character and how you engage with the world. Regardless of your strengths or weaknesses, believe that you can always improve and be a better version of yourself.
When you find yourself in conflict or a difficult situation, earn to respond instead of reacting. Don’t be impulsive and respond negatively to a bad situation because it only increases the problem. Being more emotionally and socially aware of how you react and carry yourself throughout life is the best way to improve your EQ.
Emotionally intelligent people are intuitive and can empathize with others. This allows them to become natural leaders in society and they bridge the gap with the right mode of communication for the situation. If you want to raise your EQ, it’s also important to look at your social skills. How you change your social skills and interact with others depending on your relationship with them says a lot about your emotional intelligence. You should work on your interpersonal skills and be as approachable, confident, and positive as possible.
Building your emotional intelligence is a journey and if you are serious about becoming more emotionally intelligent then you need to do the work and be honest and open to growth. If any of these skills don’t come naturally to you, then you have to be determined to change positively. High EQ skills are not necessary to have a successful and happy life, but they can increase your chances of creating the life you want and deserve.