Renate Green, Registered Clinical Counsellor (250) 878-0602
People used to assume that intelligence, as measured by IQ, was the single most important prerequisite for success. Yet the man with the highest recorded IQ in US is a bouncer in a bar. Some might think that to be a waste of talent.
That is emotional intelligence, which plays a crucial role in determining a person's relational, physical, and financial well-being. Emotional intelligence has several components, including a person's ability to motivate themselves, understanding emotions in others and handling successful relationships with people.
To understand what happens when people have a deficit of emotional intelligence, consider the struggles faced by those who are autistic. Intellectually, they are often exceptionally bright. They may finish university, and even get advanced degress. However, people with autism are rarely employed, because they can't understand emotions in others and consequently have a diffictul time navigating relationships.
Relationship skills are critical in many work settings, where people are expected to work together in teams. If a peson can't understand how their team-mates feel and don't know how to relate to them as people, then the project will suffer. On the other hand, if a peson can identify what's frustrating them and understand how other people feel about the same situation, they can then communicate and work with those people to achieve a good resolution. The project will be completed much more successfully, rather than being stalled by frustration, conflict and anger among the team.
Emotional intelligence is also important for people working on their own. Psychologists have found that the most successful sales people possess two of the key components of EI: high levels of empathy (understanding emotions in others) and of motivation. The empathy helps them understand exactly where the customer is coming from and to tailor their sales pitch accordingly, while high levels of motivation drive them to close the sale. If they lack empathy, the salesperson comes across as rude or insensitive; if they lack motivation, the salesperson won't close the deal.
The most important aspect of increasing your emotional intelligence is self-awareness. If you are more aware of your own emotions, then you will be more able to manage them successfully, increasing your awareness of your own emotions, then you will be more able to manage them successfully. Increasing your awareness of your own emotions will make it far easier to understand others' emotions as well.
Developing self-awareness can be a challenging process. One of the best ways to do so is through psychotherapy. By working with a counsellor, you'll become more aware of what you feel, how it is linked to events in the past, and what to do with your emotions. People's emotional reactions can often be a puzzle to them, until they explore them with a counsellor. Counselling can also teach you ways of managing your emotions in a healthy fashion.
Self-awareness can also be developed with he help of honest feedback from others. People who work, play, or live with you will see aspects of yourself that you may be unaware of or choose to deny. By listening closely to their feedback, even when it's tough to hear, you can significatly raise your awareness of how you respond and come across to others.
Journalling is another tool that can help you to increase your self-awarenss. Writing about the events of the day and the emotions they stir up will make you more aware of your emoional triggers. Reviewing your journal months or years later can reveal patterns or growth that you weren't aware of.
Talking with a close friend can serve the same purpose. Acting as an attentive audience, they'll help you articulate your own feelings and what triggered them. They can also give feedback on similar situations in which you reacted the same way.
Regardless of what means you use to do it, working to improve your emotional intelligence will help you understand your own emotions and nurture your relationships with those close to you.
Ten suggestions on developing your emotional intelligence:
1. Become emotionally literate.
Label your feelings, rather than
"I feel impatient" versus "This is ridiculous"
"I feel hurt and bitter" versus "You are an
labelling people or situations insensitive jerk"
"I feel afraid" versus "You are driving like an idiot."
2. Distinguish between thoughts and feelings.
Thought "I feel like... I feel as if... I feel that"
"I feel (feeling word ie sad, mad, glad, bad.")
3. Take more responsibility for your feelings.
"I feel jealous" versus "You are making me jealous."
4. Use your feelings to help make decisions.
"How will I feel if I do this?" and "how will you feel if I don't?."
5. Show respect for other people's feelings.
Ask "How will you feel if I do this?" and "how will you feel if I don't?."
6. Feel energized, not angry.
Use what others call "anger" to help feel energized to take productive action.
7. Validate other people's feelings.
UShow empathy, understanding and acceptance of other people's feelings.
8. Practice getting a positive value from emotions.
Ask yourself " How do I feel?" and "What would help help me feel better?"
Ask others, "How do you feel?" and "What would help you feel better?"
9. Don't advise, command control, criticize, judge or lecture others.
Instead try to just listen with empathy and non-judgment.
10. Avoid people who invalidate you.
While this is not always possible, at least try to spend less time with them or try not to let them have psychological power over you.