The idea of emotional intelligence emerged around 1995. Since its inception the concept has taken the world by storm, acting as a missing link in our understanding of IQ and success. For years scientists have wondered how those with lower IQ’s outperformed those with higher IQ. In researching this puzzling reality, emotional intelligence was discovered.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Everyone possesses some degree of this specialized intelligence (also known as EQ). It allows us to navigate through tricky relationships. It also gives us the tools to interact with our own emotions.
In short, emotional intelligence refers to our ability to interpret and direct the emotions of other people, as well as the emotions we hold within ourselves. As the years have gone by, studies have continued to point to the importance of EQ, and the way it sets us apart from one another. It is clear that this phenomenon impacts us all. Thus, in trying to understand it, we should look to the four key domains which define it.
First Key – Awareness
The first domain is concerned with awareness. People with high levels of EQ can recognize they are feeling a certain emotion, and know why they are experiencing the emotion. They don’t take emotions at face value and instead examine their emotions in thoughtful ways so they can better deal with themselves and others. For example, someone with high emotional intelligence might feel anger. Instead of letting the anger take over, they might examine the feeling and realize it is masking a different emotion. In this way, EQ helps the individual stay in touch with what they are feeling and gives insight into what they want out of social interactions.
Second Key – Self-regulation
In addition to self-awareness, high EQ correlates with self-regulation, the second domain of emotional intelligence. Our emotions often appear out of the blue, and without our consent. While we can’t stop the emergence of these emotions, we can control how long the feeling lasts. With EQ, individuals can recognize the need to shorten the duration of distressing negative emotions. Techniques such as meditation, long walks, and reframing of the situation are then used by those with emotional intelligence to adjust their emotional responses.
Third Key – Empathy
Awareness and regulation are not limited to the self, however. Emotionally intelligent individuals are also able to identify and analyze the emotions of others. They can read between the lines of emotions. Maybe they can tell when someone is trying to mask sadness or realize that someones grumpy demeanour is related to struggles at home.
This form of emotional intelligence lends awareness to the emotions and experiences of those around us. It also leads to another key domain of EQ, empathy. With an emotional awareness of others, we can empathize and put ourselves in the shoes of someone else. In a small way, those with high EQ share in the emotional experience of the individuals they interact with. This skill helps not only in understanding others but aids in recognizing the emotional needs of others.
The emotionally intelligent can anticipate, to a greater degree, when a friend or family member might need emotional support or distance. In practice, these skills could be useful for service type jobs such as psychology, human resources, and management. More importantly, though, they can help an individual manage personal relationships and build on their social skills, another key domain of EQ.
Forth Key – Communication Skills
Those with more developed EQ tend to have superior social skills. Among many benefits, emotional intelligence allows people to communicate more efficiently, lead groups better, and influence others. This expertise in the social realm helps massively in the workplace and at home. More importantly, research has shown that those with High EQ can be more successful than those with high IQ.
In a study conducted among a group of engineers and coders, participants were rated by their coworkers. They evaluated how successful they thought their fellow workers were and how easy they were to work with. The results showed that high emotional intelligence, as opposed to IQ, predicted greater success in the workplace. These findings are predictive not only of IT-related fields but of many other fields and careers. On average those with emotional intelligence tend to earn more money annually and occupy higher positions in companies.
IQ or EQ?
In considering the research, it may seem that IQ is less deserving of our consideration. However, that would be a misleading conclusion.
On the whole, general intelligence is not unimportant. In fact, we all need some amount of intelligence to get the results we want. IQ can get a person far in life, but the abilities related to EQ allow humans to relate more profoundly with the world around them. In this regard, great success can be achieved with the use of emotional intelligence and IQ. In the end, IQ only accounts for a small percentage of our success in life. EQ, as well as many other factors, can change the way we go about living.
Can I Improve My EQ?
So how do we foster our own emotional intelligence, and is it even possible? EQ isn’t something we are born with, but something we grow through education and patience.
Through cognizance, we can learn how to decipher ourselves. We can find the source of our emotional distress. Often our emotional responses arise from childhood experiences, other life experiences, and genetic predisposition.
Scientists say that the dialogue between our rational brain (frontal cortex) and our emotional brain (the limbic system) are at the centre of emotional intelligence. Often though we have an emotional response before our rational brain can respond.
If we can harness our own brains plasticity, meaning its ability to learn new skills, we can rewire the brain, and develop a more sound intelligence. The key to changing our minds is to create more interaction between both parts of the mind, the emotional and the rational. This can be done in several ways. Therapy is one method for enacting this growth, but reading widely, actively listening to those around us, and being mindful of our own thoughts and feelings may aid us down a new path.
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