What does it mean to be an emotionally intelligent person? Why does being emotionally intelligent matter? What is the difference between a high emotional quotient (high EQ) and a low emotional quotient (low eq)?
Popular psychology refers to Emotional Intelligence as the ability to recognize, understand, express, and control your (own) emotions. It also refers to the ability to empathize with, acknowledge, decipher, and respond appropriately to the emotions of others. Some signs of emotional intelligence include the ability to identify and describe what you and others are feeling, the ability to accept and adopt change, the ability to let go of mistakes and accept responsibility for mistakes, feel empathy and concern for others, sensitivity towards other people’s feelings, among others.
The foundational elements of emotional intelligence are, perceiving emotions – i.e. recognizing non-verbal communication, body language, and facial expressions and interpreting them accurately, analyzing emotions – i.e. using emotions to inform thinking and prioritizing how to respond emotionally, emotional awareness - i.e. understanding the emotions, needs, and worries of others, and managing emotions in relationships – i.e. developing and maintaining positive relationships, establishing clear communication, and managing conflict.
Emotional intelligence is important because it deeply impacts your ability to establish and maintain healthy and strong relationships. This is because emotional intelligence helps one to manage stress, communicate effectively, and navigate conflict more productively. Research has shown that people with high emotional intelligence or high EQ have an easier time identifying and expressing emotions, making decisions that support emotional needs, and more ease navigating stressful or distressing situations. Whereas people with low emotional intelligence or low EQ become easily overwhelmed by emotions, have a more difficult time making decisions especially when emotions are more extreme, and often feel misunderstood.
If you feel like you may have low EQ and/or want to improve your emotional intelligence in general, there are things you can do. A first step is intentionally naming your emotions. This means that as you emotionally respond to something, identify the trigger, and express it either by writing it down or speaking it aloud. Another step is to work with a professional therapist who can help you build your emotional skills by expanding self-awareness and identifying your emotional triggers and inclinations. Attend events and workshops such as the upcoming Complemented not Completed Workshop on April 19, where we will learn about topics related to emotional intelligence such as forgiveness, loneliness, trust building, vulnerability, and boundaries among others. Focus on your health and physical needs, work out regularly, get rest, and try to maintain a balanced diet. Join a community of people building their emotional intelligence and supporting one another in that journey.
Emotional intelligence is about self and social awareness. When you have developed a solid self-awareness you can grow and improve other aspects of your emotional intelligence, knowing the effort is worth the payoff.