Most of us are emotional creatures by nature. Whether we deny having emotions and put up a shield to isolate ourselves and others from them, or whether we admit to them, and make use of them, is a matter of how much Emotional Intelligence (EQ) we possess. Gaining greater EQ is not only a constant, but also a fascinating, learning process. It’s never too late to start developing emotional intelligence, and it is something we can work on throughout our lives.
What Is Emotional Intelligence And Why Do We Need It
The definition of Emotional Intelligence, (EQ), is in two parts. Firstly, it is the ability to get to grips with our own emotions. Secondly, it encompasses how much sensitivity we have towards the feelings of others. However, the real art of developing emotional intelligence is to be able to balance, and manage, these two elements. If we can master that, we create the opportunity to choose to behave in a more beneficial way.
Developing emotional intelligence is essential for our functioning in the world. Expanding it helps us to be more aware of our emotional life, and, in addition, it helps us to learn how to empathise with what others are feeling so that we can be supportive.
The Emotional Intelligence Skill Range
There are also two sides to the emotional intelligence skill set. There are Personal Skills, aimed at understanding our own emotions, as well as Social Skills which are what we use in our dealings with other people.
Developing Emotional Intelligence
The key to developing emotional intelligence skills that are personal, is to employ a high level of self-reflection. We need to examine the cause of a particular emotional response, together with the effect it has on us psychologically and physically. Once we have done that we can imagine how we could respond to the stimuli more constructively. The aim is to depersonalise situations, in order to gain a clearer point of view.
The first, and easiest step to enhancing Social EQ is simply to listen, and to concentrate sincerely on what people say. We have to learn to read between the lines, in order to find out what their message really is beyond the words themselves. Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes makes it easier to empathise with what someone is feeling and why.
Observing the reactions of other people to our behaviour, and being aware of the bigger picture is also critical. Analysis of this gives us ideas for which areas of our behaviour we could make positive changes. At the same time, we have to work on learning ways to communicate honestly and calmly.
Emotional Intelligence As A Long Term Goal
In essence, self mastery is the ultimate goal of developing emotional intelligence. Although we sometimes wish we could, it’s not wise to be spontaneously reactive all of the time. It’s naive to think we can go around wearing our hearts on our sleeves. On balance, it is better to analyse what attitude is most beneficial for ourselves and those around us, and act on that instead.
All photos taken by Ju Underwood at The Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh