As the world takes a turn from hard and fast rules to much more humane and inclusive norms, the need for emotional intelligence is on the rise ever since. People across all fields of professions place a high emphasis on the emotional quotient of their candidates to ensure smooth conduction and performance of the job.
The hype about intellectual quotient is slowly being overthrown by emotional quotient as that promises better practical skills and coping capabilities. So what is emotional intelligence?
According to Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and regulate emotions in oneself and others, to be able to motivate oneself and others to work towards the desired goal and also to exercise self-control.
Emotional Intelligence: A Result Of Nature Or Nurture?
Studies show that emotional intelligence could be a mix of both. Although some people are naturally born with the gift of high EQ, it could also be observed and acquired later in life. The process of acquiring emotional intelligence starts with self-awareness followed by an awareness of others.
After achieving awareness of the self and others, a person moves on to developing empathy and this happens because of having acquired knowledge from the first two stages. A person can successfully acquire the skill of EI if they adopt the basic components of EI such as self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, social skill and empathy, So how can these skills be cultivated?
Emotional Intelligence In Children
Nurturing an important skill such as emotional intelligence from childhood is a crucial aspect of their development. In most households, emotions are hardly ever acknowledged and validated. This leads to the child growing up unaware of the complex emotions they experience. Parents for the most part struggle with the emotional outbursts of children and also lack the knowledge to bring the situation under control.
For example, three-year-old Matthew throws tantrum at the supermarket demanding to buy an expensive toy. Mary, his mother tries to stop his crying to avoid the weird stares of people. In such a situation, what can an emotionally intelligent do differently?
Instead of beating the child or calling names or even agreeing to buy the toy, Mary can try:
- Becoming aware of the child’s emotions.
- Acknowledging the emotion as a chance of bonding and teaching.
- Giving them an ear and validating their emotions.
- Helping them find the right labels for the emotions experienced.
- Establishing limits and boundaries while trying to solve a problem.
Rather than taking the role of a condescending mother, Mary can enquire Matthew about the emotions he’s experiencing and try to identify the exact emotion he was feeling and making him feel accepted for the way he feels and finally letting him know that the toy is very expensive and instead they could buy popsicles that he loves.
This strategy is more likely to make Matthew feel heard and also be able to understand the emotional experiences of Mary.
Strategies To Enhance Emotional Intelligence
One of the most successful and empirically backed-up methods to enhance emotional intelligence is bibliotherapy. Although this may sound like a jargon, it is as simple as reading. Reading ‘self-help’ books and other ones about emotions can give a basic understanding of human emotions and their functioning.
People sometimes say or do the wrong things due to their lack of knowledge about emotions and about how people feel in general. Therefore this is a great hack to enhance the emotional intelligence quotient.
Many a time we spend time thinking about the actions of others and the reason behind their behaviors. But we hardly ever spend time reflecting and seeing within ourselves. Who am I? What makes me ‘me’? Why do I behave a certain way during some situations? These questions may sometimes have a much deeper answer than what we may presume. When we try to seek ourselves, we learn to understand others very well.
Introspection is a quest to understand the self; inclusive of strengths and weaknesses. This will give a realistic idea about who we are. The first step to this journey is to be mindful of our emotions and be able to recognize them with precision.
Evaluating the self is an important aspect of enhancing emotional intelligence. There are various tools available online which can help evaluate a person in different dimensions. An evaluation may lead to both favorable and non-favorable results.
However, that shouldn’t be the reason one avoids learning about oneself. This can be a great kickstart in learning to accept the self, irrespective of all the good and bad.
Sometimes talking about emotional experiences can help comprehend them better. People usually find themselves being able to better process emotions and organize them well when they find themselves verbalizing it. This is one of the primary tenets of therapy as it involves talking about emotions, feelings and beliefs for the most part.
5. Emotional Regulation:
The mere knowledge about the self is fruitless if it reaps no benefits. The ultimate test of knowledge lies in whether it is put to efficient use or not. Emotions should be monitored as they appear; whether positive or negative. If you find yourself allowing emotions which may not help you move forward, they have to be regulated to serve you in reaching a state of acceptance.
Another notable way to hone emotional intelligence is through reflecting on the self. Various soothing self-care activities would help achieve reflection such as journaling, exercising, dancing, painting etc.
These activities help in bringing the focus to the present and increase mindfulness of the physiological and psychological sensations experienced. This helps in seeing emotions as they are without any filters or alterations.
It is the ability to understand the narratives and perspectives of others and offer unconditional acceptance and respect. Empathy comes from active listening and lending a non-judgmental ear.
When we learn to become empathetic, we are more aware of the reactions and feelings of others, and this would consequently reflect in our social mannerisms and the way we treat people in general.
Perks Of Cultivating Emotional Intelligence
- It improves the quality of interpersonal relationships.
- It increases self-understanding and enhances self-esteem.
- EI helps in improved confidence.
- Better teamwork in an organizational setting.
- Increases the chances of persuasion.
- It also helps in efficient conflict resolution.
- It improves leadership skills.
- EI serves in decision-making.
- It enhances flexibility and adaptability to change.
Emotional Intelligence In Work-Life Balance (Especially At High Pressure)
Since many people today face the struggle to maintain a healthy personal and professional life balance, extensive studies have been undertaken to study the potential relationship between emotional intelligence and the extension of its impact on work-life balance.
As expected, studies revealed a positive relationship existing between the two variables. Emotional intelligence is said to be a vital construct in maintaining a healthy work-life balance and also in various other work-related dimensions such as
Work Satisfaction: EI has a positive effect on work satisfaction because it helps a person attain important qualities such as emotional regulation, self-development, integrity, managing relations, emotional stability etc.
Work Engagement: A person with a high level of EQ has good endurance over delayed gratification. They are capable of pushing themselves even in the absence of reward. They are also capable of regulating emotions well and this would naturally reflect on the level of engagement exerted.
Job Stress: High score of EQ promises effective emotional management. A person with high EQ can keep their difficult emotions under control. They are also capable of finding peace amidst the storm. Therefore, even if they are put under intense job pressure, they are capable of pushing through them.
Emotional intelligence has such a pivotal role in balancing work and life and this is so because it ensures proper processing and regulation of emotions. The ability to manage feelings and handle stress is one of the added perks of being an emotionally intelligent person.
Especially during situations when the stresses of the workplace take a toll. They can achieve this because they are aware of their personal preferences and also possess the knowledge about grounding themselves. So, even during intense situations, they learn to ground themselves rather than succumb the overwhelming emotions. If they find themselves unable to handle their difficult emotions, they don’t shy away from asking for help.
EI also helps in thinking creatively and to use novel methods to solve problems. As communication skills and empathy are some of the important skills required at work, EI is very beneficial in blocking work stresses from getting overwhelming.
Hedonism And Eudaimonism And Psychological Well-Being
Hedonism and Eudaimonism are two opposing philosophical concepts from positive psychology. Hedonism equates happiness to pleasure and comfort whereas eudaimonism equates happiness to accomplishing difficult tasks which are meaningful to an individual. Although these two views hold contrary beliefs, many psychologists today combine both views to evaluate the psychological well-being of an individual.
For example, if a person strives all his life to achieve all the personal goals he has set for himself without ever enjoying the bounties he has accumulated over the years, he may not truly experience a happy life. He misses out on many things beyond achieving his goals such as love, travel, family, friends etc.
Mindfulness And Social Awareness Help In De-Stress And Handling A Critical Situation
Mindfulness has been a proven practice in tactfully managing stressful situations. This method is so effective because it tunes the body to slow down and can dial down the body’s response to stress.
During an intense overwhelming situation, the environment seems too much to process and things are much more exaggerated than what they pose. What mindfulness does is that it changes the brain structure and the activity of the region responsible for attention and emotion regulation. This would be handy during a critical situation where an individual is in a place to make significant decisions.
Studies reveal that people who have undergone mindfulness-based cognitive therapy are better able to focus on the present and less likely to have negative thoughts and are also able to manage stressful situations proficiently.
Social awareness is the ability to take the perspective of others and empathize with them even if they come from diverse backgrounds. A socially aware person is much more sensitive to the emotions and feelings of others and avoids disrespecting and belittling their diverse customs and rituals.
During critical situations, an individual who is socially aware is more likely to consider the differences in people and their expectations and strive to reach a ground that is equitable for all.