“Our ability to manage ourselves and handle relationships [Emotional Intelligence] matters twice as much as IQ”
Daniel Goleman, Ph.D
Emotional Intelligence, or EI, has become a popular buzz phrase over the past few years, but, chances are, if you’re like most people, you struggle to put your finger on exactly what it is.
Whilst a lot of people seem to be have a good sense for who in their lives demonstrates it better than others, at iPEC we provide a little more clarity around how to define it, the identifying characteristics of it and how we can develop it in ourselves and others so that we can consciously apply more of it to our lives.
In short, Emotional Intelligence is all about having the ability to express appropriate emotions at the appropriate time.
It’s our ability to distinguish and understand how our thoughts and feelings connect with our behaviour, as well as the ability to manage and express appropriate emotions and help others do the same.
Demonstrated well, it’s nothing short of an art.
Whether you are someone who wears your heart on your sleeve, or someone who numbs out and shows little or no emotion regardless of the situation, when people are not aware of their own emotional reactions and responses, they risk not being aware of how those emotions are affecting an influencing their impact on others.
Since we are all emotional beings, how we feel at any given moment is directly related to what we do and how well we do it. As such, enhancing your level of Emotional Intelligence will have a significant impact in all aspects of your life and relationships: with yourself, with co-workers, with family and with friends.
People who are successful in improving their Emotional Intelligence are able to decrease their stress levels (both professionally and personally), enhance interpersonal relationships, experience increased levels of personal satisfaction and demonstrate greater leadership and decision-making skills.
So why doesn’t Emotional Intelligence come naturally to all of us?
Take a moment to think about how we’re conditioned in society. How many Limiting Beliefs do you hear about emotions? Perhaps you’ve heard that crying is a sign of weakness? That men are not supposed to express their emotions? Perhaps you’re in a work environment that directly or indirectly discourages the expression of emotions? If we’re conditioned that way at work, it’s unsurprising that all too often in relationships, the lack of emotional expression is cited as a couple’s biggest challenge.
The same way as we’re not all musical prodigies or talented sculptors, emotional intelligence takes a certain degree of aptitude, a willingness to pay attention and a whole lot of PRACTICE!!!
The first step is about shifting the way we’ve been conditioned to view our emotions. The reality is that everything we experience has a purpose. That means that in the same way that the purpose of physical pain is to create an awareness to take action; the purpose of emotional pain is the same. Emotions are neither good nor bad, only signals to notice and act upon. Perhaps they’re telling you that a value of yours is being breached or that you need more food or sleep.
The second step is to give ourselves permission to feel and express our emotions. Emotions are all part of the human experience; they are normal and natural and we wouldn’t be fully human without them. How could we fully experience joy unless we have felt the contrasting pain?
The third step is to recognise that there are appropriate expressions of emotion and inappropriate expressions of emotion. Someone can be highly expressive and not be appropriate. Think about when you see someone rolling their eyes after hearing you say something. Or when you see someone slam a door in disgust at someone or something? These are both high expressions of emotions, but are both indications of low Emotional Intelligence.
Consider how different you would feel if instead of rolling their eyes at you, the other person acknowledged and validated your perspective before sharing their own view of the situation calmly. Not only would that be an expression of Emotional Intelligence from the other person, but it would positively shift your own mood, encouraging a higher expression of Emotional Intelligence from you in return.
So before next time ask yourself these questions:
- In what areas of your life are you fully and appropriately expressive of your emotions?
- In what areas of your life are you more repressed in your emotions?
- Why are there differences?
- What do you think is the appropriate expression of emotions in your work and/or home setting?
- What blocks, internal or external, do you see in allowing yourself and others to be more emotionally expressive?
- If you were able to fully and appropriately express your thoughts/feelings, and help others do the same, what might be the benefit to you, those around you and your overall satisfaction of your job and home life?
- What next step plans can you come up with to help yourself and others take action in this area?
Until then I invite you to check out our Facebook page to learn more about ways you can cultivate your emotional intelligence, self-awareness and increase your level of consciousness. Stay tuned for the next post on Dynamic Communication.