Emotional Intelligence. What is it? Is it important?
Emotional intelligence is also called "EQ" and some experts say it's a bigger factor in successful relationships than IQ (intelligence quotient).
No doubt, relationships are important. The people we share our life with - that we have relationships with - are our celebration buddies when life is fun and happy and our safe harbor when times get tough. Thus, it stands to reason that the way in which we interact in our relationships (our EQ) is critical to understand and develop.
First, it's necessary to understand the five components of emotional intelligence.
- Self-awareness. When you are self-aware, you can identify your emotions, understand what they mean, why you have them, and the impact your emotions have on others.
- Motivation. A person who is motivated has drive and determination to do better and achieve "more."
- Self-regulation. Self-regulation is the ability to control one's own emotions--especially when it's challenging. If you can self-regulate, you can avoid reacting emotionally or with anger most of the time.
- Empathy. Empathy is the ability to see and understand the emotions and feelings of others--to relate to what they might be going through at any given time.
- Social skills. A person with social skills can interact and communicate with others appropriately and effectively.
As said in an Early to Rise article on emotional intelligence: "When we’re skilled in all of these areas, we can readily gain the support of others, avoid conflicts, and lower stress. Our relationships—both personal and professional—will flourish."
How to improve your EQ:
Consciously consider your emotions and how you feel at different times. What makes you happy? What makes you sad? How do you react when you feel a certain way? How do you interact with others when you experience specific feelings or emotions? Are others able to "read" your feelings or do you keep them bottled up inside? Also consider whether you demonstrate the same emotions you are feeling when things happen in your life.
What gets you up each day? What keeps you going? Look at how you react when times are tough or challenging. What do you tell yourself to fight back to the challenges? Consider a time when you felt "down and out." How did you overcome? Can you recall that motivation at will? What can you do on an ongoing basis to keep yourself motivated, no matter what you are facing in your life? Can you share that same strategy with others in your life to help them be more motivated?
Do you regulate your emotions or do you let your emotions get the best of you? How do you react when you are happy, sad, or mad? Can you control how you demonstrate your emotions? If you find that you frequently react without thinking - on auto-pilot - it could be harming your relationships. Think about how you can self-regulate your emotions in a more positive manner.
For women, this is probably one of our strongest EQ areas. Yet, as with any thing, there is still likely room for improvement. How good are you at showing empathy - even to those you are not close to in life? Is there a way for you to be more empathetic to those with an opposite point of view, for example?
Sometimes, we get so "busy" in our lives that our social skills suffer - sometimes with our even realizing it. Do you take the time - or make the time - to get out and socialize with others? If you have been neglecting your relationships, make a conscious effort to reach out or join it, at least a little bit. Even baby steps are good. Just like riding a bike, even neglected social skills come back easily.
As you can likely see by now, strengthening our EQ isn't too difficult. And while it's definitely good for our interpersonal relationships, the skills are just as likely to improve our outlook on our own life as well.