How good are you at picking up on the emotions of others? Whether you're the type of person who only has to take one look at a friend to know they're having a rough day or you don't notice until they tell you how they feel, has everything to with how intelligent you are, and I don't mean book smart.
The idea that humans have multiple intelligences, or that every person has their own skill set has been popularized since the 1980s. Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is one of the models that has grown in importance. Daniel Goleman has spearheaded much of the emotional intelligence research and application in his book "Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ."
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the skill, capacity, or ability to identify, assess and control the emotions of oneself, of others and of groups.
Why Is Emotional Intelligence Important?
Emotional intelligence is an essential part of our day to day interactions and well-being. It influences our lives in three major ways:
- Relationships With Others: Studies show that high emotional intelligence leads to increased relationship satisfaction. This is because having a high EQ helps individuals connect with others and develop deep, fulfilling relationships because they are able to read their companions, and then respond with empathy and compassion. Emotional skills are essential in working and friendly relationships.
- Personal Satisfaction and Contentedness: Emotional Intelligence is not only important for your interaction with others, but also for personal well-being. People who are better able to express themselves and distinguish their own emotions-whether that is guilt, anger, fear or even jealousy, are typically happier in life. They also can gauge their well-being and how they can improve it much more easily.
- Worldview: Emotional Intelligence helps us to be empathetic and compassionate. Our emotional button is often what drives us to help another human being whether that is a homeless person on the street or giving a hand to our mother struggling with the groceries. Those who have low emotional intelligence have trouble giving back and understanding the world around them.
Emotional Intelligence is incredibly important. In our technological age, emotional skills aren't seen as playing a big role in many parts of our lives and so people don't practice them as much as they used to. We are spending less time with our peers talking about emotions, or attempting to read and gauge others' emotions. Instead, we 'read' emotions through text, email, chat or Facebook status updates. Because of this, we must begin to teach ourselves how to have emotional intelligence skills.
Luckily though, you don't have to have naturally strong people skills to develop a high EQ. As long as you're willing to put in the effort, anyone can learn to be emotionally intelligent.
One of my most popular talks is emotional and social intelligence. In my talk I teach specific concepts which are pulled together from a variety of the best resources on Emotional Intelligence:
- Self-awareness: This is when the person has the ability to read their own emotions and recognize their impact.
- Self-management: Once a person has identified an emotion they are having, they have to learn to control it or make decisions based on it. Self-management is the ability to use intuition or gut feelings to guide decisions based on the emotions. For young people especially, it involves controlling one's emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances of their environment.
- Perceiving Emotions: This is the ability to detect and decipher emotions in faces, pictures, voices and cultural symbols.
- Social Awareness: This is the ability to sense, understand, and react to others' emotions while comprehending social status, standing and where you are in your social network of people. Actually, teens are quite good at this because social hierarchy often matters the most in High School. The key is tying their heightened social awareness to their self-awareness and then making positive relationship management decisions.
- Relationship Management: This is the ability to inspire, influence and develop others while successfully avoiding or managing conflict. This is an essential part of emotional intelligence for us in incidents with bullying or issues with bosses. We have to be able to effectively handle problems without creating conflict.
Luckily, emotional intelligence is absolutely a skill that can be taught. As you learn about EQ from my blog Science of People or others, apply it on a day to day basis so you can work on the areas you need most help in.
Mayer, J.D., Salovey, P. & Caruso, D.R. (2008). Emotional Intelligence: New ability or eclectic traits, American Psychologist, 63, 6, 503-517.
Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ (1996) Bantam Books.
Kluemper, D.H. (2008) Trait emotional intelligence: The impact of core-self evaluations and social desirability. Personality and Individual Differences, 44(6), 1402-1412.