Emotional intelligence

Making Headway with Emotional Intelligence

Making Headway with Emotional Intelligence

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Emotional intelligence is one of those buzzwords everyone wants to have for themselves and their companies but, in reality,  it’s not very well understood. Let’s get to the root of its meaning rather than generalizing emotional intelligence (EI) as a hippy-dippy approach to peacekeeping and people-pleasing in our daily lives and the workplace.

A cut and dry definition is: 

“The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” (Oxford Languages)

Simply put, having a high emotional intelligence means that you’re able to evaluate scenarios and conversations and direct plans of action based on both logical and emotional standpoints. If you’re confused about how assessing and being in tune with your feelings could benefit both personal and professional success, that’s ok. Let’s dive a bit deeper to connect the pieces.

Emotional intelligence can have an impact on:

  • Your performance at school or work
    Keeping a cool, calm, and collected presence in professional and personal environments can seem out of reach when there’s emotional unrest or mismanagement. Which can ultimately disrupt one’s performance. Conversely, improving one’s emotional intelligence helps influence a broader perspective and an adaptive mindset that will propel success no matter the environment.
  • Your physical & mental health
    The inability to find balance on individual emotional scales can take a toll on a person’s well-being and could result in anxiety, stress, a knotted stomach, headaches, and even accumulate into more significant problems down the road. Thankfully, healthy practices that boost emotional intelligence include coming to terms with what is well within and entirely out of our control, which helps relieve some of the burden associated with overall wellness.
  • Your relationships
    A low level of emotional intelligence is a challenge when building strong relationships because communication, understanding, and empathy can sometimes get lost in everyday interactions. In taking steps to develop and manage one’s emotional capacity, fostering healthier relationships with others and ourselves is more easily obtainable.
  • Your social skills
    Without ownership of our feelings and consideration for others’, misunderstandings, biases, and unchecked judgment can lead to unnecessary conflicts. Pausing and analyzing the best course of action or response before simply reacting to any given situation is a desirable skill for individuals at any stage of their life/career.

The examples above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the all-around usefulness of strengthening one’s emotional intelligence. But to improve, we should first know where we stand.

How to gauge emotional intelligence

Measuring your emotional intelligence can be done by answering a series of questions regarding how well you pay attention to others’ feelings, facial expressions, and body language. Recognizing, expressing, and managing your own emotions are also key in the evaluation process.

Though emotional intelligence can be guessed at and maybe even assumed, plenty of resources are available to narrow it down. If you have the time, here are a few short and free EI quizzes that you can check out:

Keep in mind: Being honest about where you fall in perceiving and managing emotions, using them for reasoning, and understanding them is important if you take growth in this area seriously. 

Improving emotional intelligence

Just like any other interpersonal or soft skill set, emotional intelligence can be learned and developed. The particularly valuable skills and qualities that make up a strong foundation for EI are:

  1. Self-awareness, accountability, and regulation
  2. Empathy and authenticity
  3. Active listening and learning

Even the smallest actions can help build upon these attributes and raise your emotional intelligence level. For instance, keeping a journal to record and reflect on how you handle accomplishments and roadblocks each day encourages growth in each of the EI areas above. Another example of a simple tweak that checks all three boxes is giving yourself a brief four-five second pause to process varying points of view before approaching decision-making and problem-solving.

An essential takeaway from all this, is that emotions are powerful. And when utilized wisely, they can be incredibly advantageous in any given setting, whether personal or professional.

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