When we think of “intelligence”, most of us immediately think about our IQ.
IQ is an easy number we can focus on, one that gives us a clear metric of human intelligence. It’s all about your mental ability and agility, your ability to reason effectively, solve puzzles, and recall important information.
But IQ isn’t the only metric of intelligence. In fact, it could be argued that it’s not even the most important metric. Emotional intelligence, or your EQ, could actually be more vital for your success as a human being!
EQ, or the “emotional quotient”, is an ability to utilize, manage, and understand our own emotions in a positive way.  And by positive, I mean defusing conflicts, solving problems, overcoming difficult challenges (especially interpersonal challenges), communicating more effectively, connecting with others on an empathetic level, and managing our own stress.
EQ is typically characterized in four ways:
Self-awareness. Self-awareness is an ability to recognize your emotions for what they are, as well as how they might influence your behavior or even your thoughts. It’s being aware of both your weaknesses and strengths, and accepting yourself for both. This instills a sense of self-confidence that increases your likelihood of success in all aspects.
Social awareness. Social awareness is often boiled down to the simple concept of “empathy”, being able to identify and connect with emotions in others. People with high social awareness are able to detect subtle emotional cues, understand the emotions in others, and identify the concerns and needs others share. They tend to assimilate easily into existing power structures in groups or organizations, and feel comfortable enough socially that they can “fit in” anywhere.
Self-management. Self-awareness is recognizing our emotions, but self-management takes it a step farther by controlling them. We all have impulsive behaviors and feelings, but people with good self-management are able to manage the impulses and emotions driving them, using them productively or positively. They are adept at following through on their commitments, achieving established objectives, and adapting to any circumstances.
Relationship management. Relationship management takes social awareness to the next level. It enables you to form and maintain strong bonds with people, influence and inspire others around you, manage conflicts as they arise, and communicate clearly. Essentially, this is an emotional skill that helps you to be an effective and valuable member of any team.
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In truth, there are no end of ways that emotional intelligence will make you more successful. A high EQ will make you capable of fitting in anywhere, connecting with anyone, and being a part of any team, no matter what position you’re in. Leaders tend to have very high EQs, even if their IQs are average. Thanks to the four skills listed above, your chances of success in any situation will be exponentially higher.
Here are just a few examples:
At work – You can easily navigate the social dynamics at your workplace, help resolve conflicts, connect with your coworkers, and ultimately become a leader because of your ability to work successfully with people.
At home – You can understand how your spouse, children, or parents are feeling or what’s driving their behavior. Your ability to connect with them emotionally increases your bond and keeps the relationship strong through even the hardest challenges.
In your mental health – Self-awareness of your emotions enables you to understand what’s driving the stress, worry, anxiety, or low mood, and your high self-management enables you to manage your emotions in a positive, healthy way.
In your physical health – You understand how you feel about exercise, dieting, sleep, and healthy living, but your high EQ enables you to push through your struggles and meet the goals you’ve established for yourself. You can manage stress more effectively, decreasing your risk of stress-related health conditions.
In your social life – You are able to sense how those around you are feeling, so you’re better able to connect with them on an emotional level and empathize with whatever they’re struggling with. Your relationships are strong and you have an easier time making new friends because of your social awareness.
It’s pretty clear that having a high EQ is VERY important for success in life. And the good news is that you can develop and increase it on a daily basis!
If you want to develop a higher EQ, here are some things you can do:
Keep a journal -- Write down your thoughts and feelings every day. It may not come naturally at first, but over time, you’ll develop higher self-awareness and a greater sense of how you feel and what emotions are affecting you most strongly.
React slowly and calmly – Self-managing in high-pressure environments and stressful situations is not easy, but it’s absolutely vital. Whenever you’re confronted with something that triggers an emotional response, make it a point to slow down and calm yourself before reacting. Maybe you need to take time to step away from the situation or even just take a breath. Whatever you do, force yourself to take a beat and react calmly to improve your self-management.
Pay attention – Pay attention to every part of the people talking to you, not just their words, but their tone, any possible subtext, and, most important of all, their body language. You’ll find this dramatically improves your social awareness and makes you better-able to identify how people are feeling by actively listening and paying attention.
Learn conflict resolution – Conflict resolution courses and programs can help you learn vital social management skills, enabling you to see beneath the conflict to find what’s actually causing the problem. Understanding the “why” beneath the surface will do wonders to improve your social relationships in every aspect.
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