She looked baffled as I asked her about her reaction to a disturbing event.
1. “How do you feel?”
“I don’t know.”
2. “What sensations do you feel in your body?”
“I don’t know.”
3. “What are you telling yourself?”
“I don’t know.”
This young woman’s Emotional Intelligence (EQ) was low. Years ago that young woman could have been me. What about you? How would you have answered those three questions?
There was a time I did not function well emotionally. As a result, my physical health and relationships were negatively affected.
In my thirties, I began to immerse myself in personal development programs, therapy and training. They included anger management, Family of Origin work, Integrative Body Psychotherapy, and many other transforming processes. By the time I was 40 years old, I better contained my feelings and had earned a Masters Degree in Clinical and Humanistic Psychology.
Later, I earned two Emotional Intelligence certifications. One was in EQ-I by The Emotional Intelligence Training Company. The other was Emotional Intelligence: Increasing Harmony and Productivity from the ACHIEVE Training Centre. Additionally, I read the now classic book, Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.
Improved emotional intelligence increased my effectiveness as an early childhood educator, family counselor, and women’s empowerment facilitator. Now, in my work in resilience, it remains an asset. Most of all…
Emotional Intelligence is considered an antecedent to resilience. International Journal of Psychological Research 9(1):9-20 · January 2012.
It also precedes emotional well-being and solid mental health.
Here is my stab at describing Emotional Intelligence and how you can deepen it.
Our Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and our personality (as described by the Myers-Briggs Indicator and other assessments) are relatively stable parts of who we are. But, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) can be deliberately improved. Consequently, I have seen transformations in myself and others by improving it.
Definition of Emotional Intelligence
The ability to name, check and manage your emotions and effectively observe other’s emotional states; then letting these factors guide your decisions and actions.
Seven Key Benefits of Emotional Intelligence
- Can be used to ease stress.
- Helps you control your emotions rather than them controlling you.
- Protects your mental health. Helps you avoid ineffective ways of managing your moods such as depression, out-of-control anger, or addictions.
- Protects you from physical illness and disease by strengthening your immune system. Also, helps quicken your recovery from illness.
- Improves relationships through authenticity and intimacy. Intimacy requires us to share our feelings.
- Helps improve performance.
- Can be a guide to lead us to a good-fit career path, life partner, and fulfilling life.
One the most useful frameworks for Emotional Intelligence was developed by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee in their book, Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence. Here is their simple four-component framework.
Four Skills of Emotional Intelligence
- Social awareness
- Relationship management
Self-awareness (sometimes called Emotional Insight) is your ability to notice and identify your emotions and have a sense of how they shift and are aroused in different circumstances.
Only 36% of the people we tested are able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen. This means that two-thirds of us are typically controlled by our emotions and are not skilled at spotting them and using them to our benefit. Bradberry and Greaves in The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book.
Self-management is dependent on first being aware of your feelings. This ability to contain and express your emotions needs to be appropriate to the situation. This ability is sometimes called emotional regulation. Being able to manage your feelings influences your personal competence.
Social awareness is closely related to empathy; the ability to focus on and seek to understand other people’s emotions. Being able to imagine how another person is feeling is crucial for meaningful connections. This has been written about by Daniel Goleman in his book, Social Intelligence.
Relationship management uses all three of the other skills. You need to able to manage your own emotional state while paying attention to others. The result is improved communication and minimized conflict.
In conclusion, here are thirteen ways to put these four emotional intelligence concepts into action:
Thirteen Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence
Self-awareness (Emotional Insight)
- Become familiar with a range of emotions.
- When you are in a high emotional state, notice your physical responses—muscle contractions, nerve ends, heart beat, body temperature.
- Pay attention to the thoughts and beliefs that accompany your emotions. Distorted beliefs can trigger unhelpful feelings.
- Observe, tolerate and accept feelings of discomfort and vulnerability.
- Anticipate situations that will trigger uncomfortable emotions. Plan to notice them, take a breath and count to three before saying or doing anything.
- Practice giving yourself space between an impulse to immediately self-gratify. Evaluate if your potential action supports your important life goals.
- Talk to yourself as in knock some sense into yourself. You want to calm yourself with some rational, self-compassionate thinking.
- Talk to someone who knows how to really listen such as a friend or family member who can tolerate a range of emotions. Dare I suggest a helping professional (counselor, social worker, psychologist)?
- Listen to others for both thoughts and feelings.
- Ask questions of curiosity and then listen.
- As you listen, monitor your own emotional reactions. If they heat up, calm them down by breathing and refocusing on the talker.
- Speak up about matters that contain emotional heat for you. Do not let them fester. Emotions build until addressed.
- If you move into a state of significantly high emotions, consider a time out.
How you feel matters! How your family, friends, and co-workers feel matters. Consider giving yourself and them the gift of emotional intelligence!