What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence can be summed up to mean the ability to recognize, understand, and best manage one’s feelings and emotions, as well as the ability to do the same when it comes to the emotions of others. Have you ever noticed when a friend or family member is feeling down? Or if you’ve sensed that a colleague is frustrated about something preventing them from completing a task? In these situations, you may notice your emotional intelligence coming to life. Essentially, it’s how we’re able to digest, control, and evaluate emotions, whether they’re our own or those around us.
You see, emotional intelligence may be considered slightly more complex than our traditional definition of intelligence. Why? Well, there are several different categories of skills that comprise emotional intelligence as a whole, along with various ways to measure it. The categories can be broken down into the following:
Self-awareness – This is what it means to know yourself and how you operate. Self-awareness essentially is when our values and our sense of purpose step in to show us how to make the kinds of decisions that are true to our innermost selves and how those decisions may impact or influence others. Being self-aware is key to understand how you operate and how to use that knowledge to make healthy decisions in life, at work, in relationships, etc. For example, being able to own your weaknesses and, in turn, knowing when to seek the help or advice of someone else.
Self-management / Self-regulation – This skill is used to manage our more disruptive impulses and emotions. Think of it as the ability to keep the peace during a crisis while simultaneously adapting as necessary. Those who are good at managing one’s negative emotions tend to prevail when it comes to managing conflict in general – like remaining calm under pressure and making the necessary shifts or pivots to come out the other side even more successful. Conflict resolution is typically the go-to strategy of a person whose self-management skills are at an optimal level.
Motivation – As you may have already guessed, motivation is that inner fuel or fire that allows us to be focused on our goals, and more specifically, motivating ourselves toward achieving them. This is when we’re able to give ourselves a pat on the back for more internal accomplishments rather than the kind of praise you’d receive from an external source.
Empathy – When it comes to emotional intelligence, empathy is a skill that’s used to not only be mindful of how others are feeling but also to assess the dynamics that influence the relationships we have with those around us. It’s how we’re able to consider and understand someone else’s feelings before reacting, responding, or engaging. Think of it as the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.
Social Skills – Similar to empathy, the role social skills play in emotional intelligence is all about the interpersonal skills we use to be able to connect with others. It’s harnessing the social awareness we need to incorporate things like active listening and communication into our everyday conversations and interactions. This is how we better connect, build a rapport and emotional understanding with our friends, colleagues, and peers.
So why is it important?
Now knowing all of the components and inner-workings of emotional intelligence, you may be wondering, is emotional intelligence that important? Well, the short answer is yes. Emotional intelligence plays a very large role in our overall success and happiness, both mentally and physically. Emotional intelligence is how we navigate things like resilience, reasoning, stress management, social situations, and conflict.
Do you have it?
When it comes to processing and regulating emotional information, emotional intelligence can be considered the catalyst to healthy decision-making and social influence. It’s like our auto-response framework for how to navigate the ups and downs of life. Perhaps, at some point, you’ve heard someone mention the idea to think before you speak or think before you react. This is a more subtle way we can measure emotional intelligence in our everyday lives. And to understand if you possess emotional intelligence, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you can recognize the emotion you are feeling at a given time. And even further, ask yourself if you can control or manage those feelings without getting completely bogged down.
So if something emotionally charging happens at home or even in the workplace, are you one to react immediately out of lower frequency emotions? Or do you take a little time to digest the situation and think before you respond? Knowing that you need your emotions to calm down before engaging is how those who possess emotional intelligence choose to rationally navigate the situation, to make room for a more clear, healthy way of communicating. This also includes being mindful of how others feel in the situation and navigating accordingly.
So, how do you boost emotional intelligence?
Increasing our awareness of emotional intelligence is something that has the power to welcome new and better relationships in all areas of life – and most importantly, the relationship you have with yourself. When you understand yourself and your emotions, you’re able to navigate situations, good or bad, in the most rational, healthy way. This can lead to stronger connections within romantic partners, improved job performance in the workplace, and the kind of social skills that make you and those around you feel comfortable.
You see, being equipped with the skills and tools to master emotional intelligence is truly invaluable when it comes to success. And just like any skill, the more you practice, the better you get. That’s why I’d like to share some ways you can improve your emotional intelligence skills in your everyday life to help you manifest the kind of life you desire:
- Set personal goals
- Be open to learning new things
- Empathize with others
- Celebrate wins (even the small ones)
- Practice active listening
- Be mindful of your body language
- Be open to accept criticism or negative feedback
- Use feedback as a tool for growth
- Be open to sharing your feelings with others
- Learn to manage stress in healthy ways (meditation, breath-work, exercise, etc.)
- Ask thoughtful questions
- Be a team player
- Practice good eye contact
- Pay attention to how you react to challenging or stressful situations
- Notice how your actions impact or influence others
- Recite positive affirmations
- Be a leader
- Limit your time spent complaining
- Be less judgmental
- Be more adaptable and open to change
- Start networking
- Be self-aware
- See the good in situations and others
- Show interest in others and what they have to say
- Keep a journal to keep track of your feelings
- Allow yourself to be approachable
- Take time to pinpoint the root of frustration
- Practice more of what motivates you
- Eat a balanced diet to keep you healthy, focused, and alert
- Take responsibility for your feelings
And as you can see, improving on our emotional intelligence is something you can work at daily to welcome the best version of yourself. And just as the world around us continues to change and evolve, our aptitude for emotional intelligence will do the same. That’s why it’s important to be open to learning new things and see your personal growth journey as a way to identify your limiting beliefs and, more importantly, work to eliminate them. The more we do this, the more we uncover the qualities that bring about our greatest selves and our greatest lives. So if you’d like to discover what’s the #1 limiting belief blocking you from manifesting all your goals and desires… then take our 30-second quiz now! It’s quick, easy, and FREE!
Natalie Ledwell is a best selling author, speaker and successful entrepreneur. She's passionate about helping others to achieve their greatest dreams and ambitions through her personal development programs and her online TV show, The Inspiration Show.