When it comes to happiness and success in life, emotional intelligence (EQ) matters just as much as intellectual ability (IQ). Emotional intelligence helps you build stronger relationships, succeed at work, and achieve your career and personal goals. Learn more about why emotional intelligence is so important and how you can boost your own EQ by mastering five core skills.
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others.
If you have a high emotional intelligence you are able to recognize your own emotional state and the emotional states of others and engage with people in a way that draws them to you. You can use this understanding of emotions to relate better to other people, form healthier relationships, achieve greater success at work, and lead a more fulfilling life.
Emotional intelligence consists of four attributes:
Why is emotional intelligence (EQ) so important?
As we know, it's not the smartest people that are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. You probably know people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially inept and unsuccessful at work or in their personal relationships. Intellectual intelligence or IQ isn't enough on its own to be successful in life. IQ can help you get into college but it's EQ that will help you manage the stress and emotions of sitting your final exams.
Emotional intelligence affects:
All information to the brain comes through our senses and when this information is overwhelmingly stressful or emotional, instinct will take over and our ability to act will be limited to the flight, fight, or freeze response. Therefore, to have access to the wide range of choices and make good decisions, we need to be able to bring our emotions into balance at will.
Memory is also strongly linked to emotion. By learning to use the emotional part of your brain as well as the rational, you'll not only expand your range of choices when it comes to responding to a new event, you'll also factor emotional memory into your decision-making. This will help prevent you from continually repeating earlier mistakes.
To improve your emotional intelligence-and your decision-making abilities-you need to understand and control the emotional side of your brain. This is done by developing five key skills. By mastering the first two skills, you'll find skills 3, 4, and 5 much easier to learn.Developing emotional intelligence through five key skills:
Emotional intelligence consists of five key skills, each building on the last:
How to learn the five key skills of emotional intelligence
The five skills of emotional intelligence can be learned by anyone, at any time. But there is a difference between learning about emotional intelligence and applying that knowledge to your life. Just because you know you should do something doesn't mean you will-especially when you become overwhelmed by stress, which can hijack your best intentions.
In order to permanently change behavior in ways that stand up under pressure, you need to learn how to take advantage of the powerful emotional parts of the brain that remain active and accessible even in times of stress. This means that you can't simply read about emotional intelligence in order to master it. You have to experience and practice the skills in your everyday life.
High levels of stress can overwhelm the mind and body, getting in the way of your ability to accurately 'read' a situation, hear what someone else is saying, be aware of your own feelings and needs, and communicate clearly.
Being able to quickly calm yourself down and relieve stress helps you stay balanced, focused, and in control-no matter what challenges you face or how stressful a situation becomes.
Stress busting: functioning well in the heat of the moment
Develop your stress busting skills by working through the following three steps:
Being able to connect to your emotions-having a moment-to-moment awareness of your emotions and how they influence your thoughts and actions-is the key to understanding yourself and others.
Many people are disconnected from their emotions-especially strong core emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, and joy. This may be the result of negative childhood experiences that taught you to try to shut off your feelings. But although we can distort, deny, or numb our feelings, we can't eliminate them. They're still there, whether we're aware of them or not. Unfortunately, without emotional awareness, we are unable to fully understand our own motivations and needs, or to communicate effectively with others.
What kind of a relationship do you have with your emotions?
If any of these experiences are unfamiliar, your emotions may be turned down or turned off. In order to be emotionally healthy and emotionally intelligent, you must reconnect to your core emotions, accept them, and become comfortable with them. Developing emotional awareness
Emotional awareness can be learned at any time of life. If you haven't learned how to manage stress, it's important to do so first. When you can manage stress, you'll feel more comfortable reconnecting to strong or unpleasant emotions and changing the way you experience and respond to your feelings.
Being a good communicator requires more than just verbal skills. Often, what you say is less important than how you say it or the other nonverbal signals you send out-the gestures you make, the way you sit, how fast or how loud you talk, how close you stand, how much eye contact you make. In order to hold the attention of others and build connection and trust, you need to be aware of and in control of this body language. You also need to be able to accurately read and respond to the nonverbal cues that other people send you.
These messages don't stop when someone stops speaking. Even when you're silent, you're still communicating nonverbally. Think about what you are transmitting as well, and if what you say matches what you feel. If you insist "I'm fine", while clenching your teeth and looking away, your body is clearly signaling the opposite. Your nonverbal messages can produce a sense of interest, trust, excitement, and desire for connection-or they can generate fear, confusion, distrust, and disinterest.
Tips for improving nonverbal communication
Successful nonverbal communication depends on your ability to manage stress, recognize your own emotions, and understand the signals you're sending and receiving. When communicating:
Playful communication broadens your emotional intelligence and helps you:
How to develop playful communication:
It's never too late to develop and embrace your playful, humorous side.
Conflict and disagreements are inevitable in relationships. Two people can't possibly have the same needs, opinions, and expectations at all times. However, that needn't be a bad thing. Resolving conflict in healthy, constructive ways can strengthen trust between people. When conflict isn't perceived as threatening or punishing, it fosters freedom, creativity, and safety in relationships.
The ability to manage conflicts in a positive, trust-building way is supported by the previous four skills of emotional intelligence. Once you know how to manage stress, stay emotionally present and aware, communicate nonverbally, and use humor and play, you'll be better equipped to handle emotionally-charged situations and catch and defuse many issues before they escalate.
Tips for resolving conflict in a trust-building way: