Emotional Intelligence

Gone are the days when intelligence was a test score or a number on the IQ scale. Thanks to modern technology, from brain scans to social media, the idea that intelligence is more multifaceted than book smarts is becoming widespread. Emotional Intelligence might be the closest thing to a buzzword that 21st Century psychology has.

But what is the meaning of emotional intelligence? While it’s easy to think Emotional Intelligence or EQ (as it’s commonly referred to from the term Emotional Quotient) is all about mushy feelings, but it’s actually an idea born from psychological research and now strengthened by neuroscience. While IQ is a household term, EQ is still carving its way into the popular vernacular.

Simply put, EQ is a person’s awareness of his/her own emotions and his ability to use that awareness in life situations. How well do you understand yourself? And do you use that knowledge to succeed in the world around you?

EQ is defined as: “your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.”

Emotional Intelligence—and Why It Can Matter More than IQ

Did you know that EQ is one third of Your Personal Intelligence. We get a lot more behind-the-scenes access nowadays: doctors can see inside your brain; you can see inside celebrities’ lives; at any given time, you can follow world leaders on Twitter. For good or ill, we see the “why” behind people’s behavior more than ever. And the more we see the workings of human intelligence, the more clear it is that IQ isn’t everything.

it’s now widely acknowledged and accepted that personal intelligence is a combination of EQ, IQ, and personality. Emotional intelligence, intellectual capability, and your personality traits make up your own unique brand of “smart.” The reason emotional intelligence can be viewed as the most vital aspect of the three is because if it’s lacking, emotions can hijack our logical brain and dominate our personality in a negative way.

The Four Pillars of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is a broad term. Before diving deeper, let’s revisit the definition: EQ is a person’s awareness of his/her own emotions and his ability to use that awareness in life situations. It’s right there in the definition—EQ has an intra-personal side and an inter-personal side. It is partially about understanding emotions and partially about acting on those emotions.

You can think of EQ as a stairway to success, and have broken it up into four main steps:

Self awareness.

EQ starts with understanding yourself. Being able to recognize your emotions is the first step, and this ability is not as easy as it might seem. Some researchers further separate “self-awareness” into categories like self-actualization, self-regard and emotional self-awareness. Anyone who’s witnessed a tired child’s temper-tantrum can probably understand that humans don’t necessarily come with emotional self-awareness built in. But the stronger your understanding of your own emotions, the stronger your overall EQ is.

Self management.

The next step after recognizing your own emotions is regulating them. There are actually a few things EQ theorists say you need to do before you can successfully manage your emotions.
1) Perceive your emotions.
2) Understand those emotions on a technical level.
3) Interpret the true meaning of those emotions based on context.
4) Then, finally, you can manage your emotions.
Self-management means taking your self awareness deeper. It means coping with and expressing your emotions properly. People with strong self management skills are confident in their independence because they understand themselves. They are assertive but not overbearing because they understand how to appropriately express emotions. And even when things go wrong, a person with well-developed emotional management skills will self-calm before addressing the problem or erupting onto others.

Social awareness.

The third pillar of EQ is the ability to understand the emotions and actions of those around you. For well-developed EQ, it’s not enough to be smart in your own head, you need a keen awareness of the world around you. Whether this is global and social consciousness or it means being mindful of those in the grocery line behind you, social awareness requires you to be aware and connect appropriately with your environment. Researchers often measure social awareness by a person’s decision-making skills, sense of social responsibility, and ability to judge reality.

Self awareness

The third pillar of EQ is the ability to understand the emotions and actions of those around you. For well-developed EQ, it’s not enough to be smart in your own head, you need a keen awareness of the world around you. Whether this is global and social consciousness or it means being mindful of those in the grocery line behind you, social awareness requires you to be aware and connect appropriately with your environment. Researchers often measure social awareness by a person’s decision-making skills, sense of social responsibility, and ability to judge reality.

Interpersonal Management.

Finally, EQ requires smart interactions. One essential thing that EQ has that IQ doesn’t is a practical, social component. For strong interpersonal management, you must combine your understanding of your own emotions, your observations of other people, and your ability to self-regulate, as well as respond to others respectfully.

A person with high EQ who excels at interpersonal management is often a good decision-maker and problem-solver, is not impulsive, manages stress well, adapts to his/her environment, knows how to set boundaries, and is highly empathetic. These qualities help them be effective in interpersonal communication.

EQ is a balancing act between these four pillars, not to mention the attributes within each one. Like with almost everything, strength in one area does not necessarily mean strength in every area. Dr. Steve Steff, a Fortune 500 leadership counselor and founder of Crisis Care International, uses the analogy of human muscles. Each pillar is like a muscle group, made up of individual features that are unique but work together. We want to build muscles for balanced strength and not let any muscles atrophy. So, if one part of your EQ is lower than the other, the natural next step is to develop your weaker features to strengthen the overall muscle group.

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