What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize, comprehend, and control one’s own and others’ emotions. Two psychology professors, John D. Mayer, and Peter Salovey introduced the idea in a research paper in 1990.
EI is a necessary talent for both success in life and work. Thankfully, EI is not an innate quality in everyone; it can be developed with practise and effort.
Emotional intelligence can also help you turn intentions into actions, connect with your feelings, and make an accurate judgement regarding what’s most important to you.
EI is usually defined in terms of these attributes (or skills):
- Self-awareness is the ability to understand your own emotions and behaviours, and how they interact with others.
- Self-regulation is the ability to have a hold over any disruptive or impulsive thoughts and behaviours.
- Social awareness is being attuned with other people’s emotions because this ability allows you to empathise with them.
- Social skills allow you to develop good relationships with other people and maintain them.
Benefits of emotional intelligence
EI can guide us to a satisfied and happy existence by offering a framework for applying intelligence criteria to emotional reactions and understanding that these responses may be rationally compatible or at odds with certain beliefs about emotion.
Emotional intelligence has enormous significance since it fosters a variety of beneficial qualities, including resilience, communication, motivation, and stress management. These qualities can all be considered as helpful in achieving success in one’s personal, physical, and professional lives.
Moreover, research has shown that regardless of IQ, persons with greater EI generally succeed better in life than those with lower EI. There has been substantial debate about the merits of teaching emotional intelligence in schools, with a focus on the assumption that emotionally intelligent children end up being emotionally intelligent adults.
How to develop emotional intelligence
Developing emotional intelligence is a continual process. The journey is unique to everyone. Here are some steps that may help developing emotional intelligence:
Practice self-awareness: To develop self-awareness, one can practise mindfulness meditation, journal, or seek feedback from others. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation and feedback-seeking behaviours are associated with greater self-awareness.
Increase empathy: To increase empathy, one can practise active listening, perspective-taking, and volunteering. Studies have shown that volunteering can increase empathy and prosocial behaviour. Active listening and perspective-taking have also been associated with greater empathy.
Manage stress: According to research, practising mindfulness can dramatically improve EI, as well as emotion perception and expression, and emotion control. Other ways to manage stress include relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. This is also the steppingstone to developing emotional intelligence. Without stress management, you are vulnerable to mental health issues.
Develop positive thinking: You can do so by trying to reframe negative thoughts, using positive self-talk, and practicing self-compassion. A study found that doing so can help develop positive emotions. This can help you regulate emotions in a healthy way.
Enhance social skills: To enhance social skills, one can practice active listening, assertiveness, and conflict resolution. You can do so by being more observational of other people’s non-verbal cues and body language, learning how to make small talk, and being aware of your own emotions, all of which will help you develop skills to make meaningful social interactions and relationships.
Practice authenticity: To practice authenticity, one can reflect on personal values and beliefs, practice self-expression, and seek feedback from others. Studies have shown that authenticity is associated with greater emotional intelligence.
Develop emotional agility: Emotional agility involves being able to adapt to changing emotional circumstances and regulate emotions as needed. One can practise mindfulness meditation, cognitive reappraisal, and emotion regulation strategies. Studies have shown that emotional agility is associated with greater emotional intelligence.
Ways to Develop Emotional Intelligence FAQs
How can we develop our emotional intelligence?
Building and developing emotional intelligence is a lifelong process. You need to make continual, active effort to develop and use emotional intelligence. You can begin with being attuned with how you feel and how you behave. You should also try understanding the root cause of your emotions and taking responsibility for them when needed. Developing positive thinking while also working to reflect on the negative is also essential.
What is the first step in building emotional intelligence?
The first step towards developing emotional intelligence is learning how to deal with stress and your mental well-being. Stress and unchecked emotions can negatively affect your mental health and put you at risk for depression and anxiety.
Can emotional intelligence be learned or developed?
Emotional intelligence is a set of abilities and behaviours. EI may be learnt, developed, and improved, yet some people will inherently be better at certain things.
What emotional intelligence skills do you need to develop?
The four emotional intelligence skills you need to develop are self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and social skills. Remember, developing emotional intelligence is an ongoing process.