Emotional Intelligence: The Key to Social Relationships

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Even though we are just starting to understand the concept of emotional intelligence, its necessity has become increasingly clear. Let's uncover what it is and its importance.

The intelligence quotient (IQ) test, a scoring system that assesses a person's capacity for problem-solving and reasoning, is well-known to many people. You might even have tried one yourself. On the other hand, emotional intelligence is a new concept that only gained recognition in the 90s. The word “intelligence” is habitually associated with mental intellect rather than emotions. 

Often mental intelligence becomes over-idealized as it is wrongly perceived to be the sole contributor to success in life as opposed to emotional intelligence. Many cultures and communities view emotion as a sign of weakness. The open display, expression, and discussion of emotion are discouraged. Meanwhile, courses and subjects in schools and universities often strongly emphasize on the development of intellect.

Many studies show that our emotions are central to our being as they play a significant role in our daily and life-long decisions. Given that emotions are fundamental to our design, it is important to understand them and know how to develop emotional intelligence. 

What are emotions, and how do they affect us?

Although we stereotypically experience emotions in our “heart,” the scientific explanation for emotions involves the brain. Emotions are our brain’s reactions to external stimuli that cause biochemical reactions in the body, altering our physical state. For example, when we lose someone we love, we experience “heartbreak,” This is because emotional pain activates the anterior cingulate cortex in our brain, which is the same region stimulated when we experience physical pain, like a paper cut. 

Emotions are also closely related to thoughts. Studies have shown that emotions are often preceded by thoughts. Hence why focusing on positive thoughts is highly recommended to maintain positive emotions. For example, the thought of living without the loved one initiates and fuels your grief. Similarly, you feel good if you think of all your positive traits.  

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to correctly identify and manage emotions within ourselves or others and utilize that knowledge to accomplish our purpose. The notion was coined in 1990 by psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey. They reasoned that not everyone with a high IQ goes on to become the most successful in life; there must be more to what determines success other than the IQ factor. Later in 1995, psychologist and journalist Daniel Goldman made the idea of emotional intelligence mainstream after writing his best-selling book, “Emotional Intelligence”(1995).

How important is having emotional intelligence in our life?

Emotional intelligence is as much a contributing factor to life success as intellectual intelligence. In recent years, its contribution to the effectiveness of employees has come to the attention of many organizations and employers. Emotionally intelligent people are more likely to get hired, promoted, and earn better salaries. They also make better leaders and life partners. Having emotionally intelligent people in management, sales, and consultancy positions can be an invaluable asset for a company.

What are the main traits of emotionally intelligent people?

Emotionally intelligent people can recognize and manage their emotions, controlling them to achieve the desired result. They do not let their emotions dictate their thoughts and actions; rather, they manage their emotions by regulating their thoughts and basing their actions on rational decisions. Instead of letting their emotions take center stage, they acknowledge and consider them.

How can emotional intelligence be developed?

Emotional intelligence has two aspects: recognizing and managing your own emotions and recognizing and managing the emotions of others. 

To develop recognition of your own emotions: 

  • actively stop and identify your feelings;
  • choose coping mechanisms that involve confronting and thinking through negative emotions as opposed to using substances to manage them; 
  • recognize that you are imperfect just like everyone, so extend yourself the understanding, kindness, and forgiveness you offer others. 

When dealing with others:

  • actively listen to understand their point of view; 
  • actively resolve conflict through positive and constructive communication rather than running away from it; 
  • work to develop empathy and compassion for others without compromising your boundaries. 

We cannot exist without emotions, just as we cannot exist without breathing, eating, or thinking. When we recognize our emotions and develop our skills for controlling them, whether in ourselves or others, emotions become a powerful tool in the hands of a skilled worker.

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