I’ve always been fascinated by how the smartest people are not always the most successful people in life. Nor are they the happiest. Those who excel in academic achievements often lack social skills and are not always the ones to bag the best jobs. On the other hand, we hear stories of school dropouts who are highly successful. They are happy, they have great relationships and they’re well-liked.
Truth is, just having a high IQ (intelligence quotient) is not enough to do well in life. Sure, IQ gets you into college. But it is Emotional intelligence (EI) that helps you deal with your emotions, your stress. And IQ works best when it is balanced with EI—they must co-exist if you want to be mentally, physically and emotionally healthy.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence is making emotions work for you rather against you. It is the ability to recognize, understand and manage your emotions.
Do you need to build your emotional intelligence?
You may need to work on building your EI if you:
- Find that stress, anxiety, and anger are controlling you
- Are impulsive—often saying or doing things you regret later
- Feel disconnected from your feelings
- Feel emotionally detached
Why do emotions matter?
When we are able to identify and understand our own emotions, we find it easier to appreciate others’ feelings and communicate better. This improves our relationships—both personal and professional. When we control stress, we are able to handle even negative emotions better. We tend to experience positive emotions better. And of course, it is easier to laugh and feel the joy of life.
We often tend to hide strong emotions such as anger, sadness or fear—because most of us grew up with being told to hush them. But whether or not we acknowledge them, they do not disappear. It is possible to use unpleasant emotions to our benefit. For example, sadness can help with emotional healing. Fear can make us brave and anger can inspire us, encouraging us to take action. But unless we are connected to our emotions, we cannot truly understand ourselves and control how we think or act.
Why even bother?
Every area of our life—personal and professional—is influenced by our emotional intelligence—right from our confidence, empathy and optimism to our social skills and self-control.
According to Genos International
In the workplace, emotional intelligence underlies our self-awareness, empathy, leadership and resilience. In our world of ‘do more with less’, where continuous change is the norm and effective collaboration is essential, these skills are fundamental to our success.
EI affects physical and mental health, performance at work/school, relationships and social intelligence. When we don’t manage our emotions, our stress levels get out of hand and this leads to serious health issues. Uncontrolled emotions affect our mental health, opening the doors to anxiety and depression. When we understand our emotions, we become better at expressing ourselves and understand others too. There’s also a social component; when we are in tune with our emotions, we connect better with the people around us. We feel more loved and happier.
The good news is, regardless of our circumstances, we can learn to improve our emotional intelligence skills and manage our emotions.
Here are eight tips to build your emotional intelligence.
- Notice your feelings
Our lives are so hectic and busy that we tend to lose touch with our emotions. Practice reconnecting by setting alarms for various times during your day. Start noticing how you feel. Each time the alarm goes off, pause to breathe. How are you feeling emotionally? Notice how that emotion manifests as a physical feeling. How does it feel? Make it a habit to do this.
- Notice your behavior
As you make it a habit to notice your feelings, notice your behavior. How do you act when you feel certain emotions? How does it affect your routine? When you are aware of our reactions to our emotions, it is easier to manage them.
- Challenge your views
With all the time we spend online, it is all too easy to go be part of the herd and let ourselves be influenced by what others think. Step back and take time to see the other side of the story. Challenge your own views even if they feel right. This will facilitate understanding others and open yourself to new ideas.
- Own your feelings
Remember that your emotions, your behavior originate from you and not from others. When you take responsibility for your feelings and behavior, you’ll start seeing life more positively.
- Rejoice in the positive
An important aspect of emotional intelligence is to be conscious about the good things in life. When you do that, you are stronger. You tend to have happier relationships. You find it easier to move on faster from tough times.
- Acknowledge the negative
Just as you are conscious about the positive stuff, acknowledge the negative feelings. Reflect on why you feel negative. Being aware will help deal with negative issues.
We encounter different situations in the course of life. Stress is a constant. To ensure that you manage stress and the accompanying emotions so you can avoid freaking out, take time to pause and breathe. Take a time out. Splash cold water on your face. Take a brisk walk outdoors. Open the window, get some fresh air. Drink a glass of water. Do something to stay cool and get a grip on what you are going through, what you are experiencing. Take time to decide how to respond rationally.
- Remember that the process is ongoing
Emotional intelligence is something you work on throughout your lifetime. It needs ongoing effort. Understand and accept this.
Something to think about
When you build your emotional intelligence, you will notice some interesting things about yourself.
- Less drama
- You tend to listen more, show more empathy. But you don’t let others dictate your life.
- You lose the victim mentality because you stop complaining. You think constructively. You are more focused on solutions than problems. You don’t play the blame game.
- You think positive and focus on facts. You zone out negativity.
- You learn from your mistakes and move on, rather than live in the past. You live in the present.
- You are more considerate towards others and less critical.
- You lose the herd mentality. You are more independent and less of a people-pleaser.
Isn’t that nice?
How strong is your emotional intelligence?