Some people just have that charm to them where they make you feel like you can sit comfortably and chat with them, knowing they’re listening, understanding and not judging you. You know, the kind of people you can talk to for a few minutes and immediately feel better; people with personal skills and great listening skills.
Other people have fantastic emotional skills; never screaming or getting angry, always calmly facing any problem that might come their way. Accepting of criticism, not budging to pressure, not letting cross words get to them.
What both these people have in common is a high degree of emotional intelligence; they understand themselves and their own emotions as well as the emotions, thoughts, behaviour and needs of others. Wouldn’t life be better if we could all be like this?
Emotional Intelligence (EI) has gone from strength to strength in recent years and is now considered as important in both personal lives and professional lives as IQ, and no surprise. Whether it be a divorce lawyer, a psychiatrist for depression, counsellor or other mental health specialist who has to handle clients with great sensitivity, a real estate agent meeting prospective buyers, a member of the police force (who of course must handle situations delicately), or even a telephone salesman trying to make a trade, the better we are able to relate to others the better we are able to perform our jobs.
Social skills are incredibly valuable but can be difficult to develop, after all, there are so many different personalities how can we possibly understand and interact with them all effectively?
The answer is in developing our Emotional Intelligence, and if there’s one person who can help us develop our emotional intelligence it’s ME—oh wait, no, sorry, it’s not me, it’s Daniel Goleman, an internationally known psychologist who lectures frequently to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses.
Daneil Goleman describes Emotional Intelligence as having five key components:
People with a high degree of emotional intelligence understand themselves very well and are able to control their emotions. They know their strengths and weaknesses and accept both and are honest with themselves but not hard on themselves.
Self Regulation is an ability to control emotions and impulses. Self regulation keeps negatives like anger and temptations in check and also enables a person to think before acting, even in heated moments. and also people to think before they act.
Those with a high degree of emotional intelligence are better able to motivate themselves, to go for what they want long term (as opposed to what they want in the moment) and are productive and effective.
Emotional Intelligence Component #4: Social Awareness
Social Awareness (which could also be called empathy) is the ability to recognise and understand how another is feeling. Empathy is immensely important in relationships as it allows a person to see things from the other person’s point of view.
Emotional Intelligence Component #5: Social Skills
We always know when we talk to someone with good social skills as these people make it a pleasure to relate to them, being good at listening and understanding and always appearing present and interested. People with good social skills are generally able to put others first, can see past personal bias and are good at resolving disputes.
From these five skills it is easy to see why emotional intelligence is such a valuable thing and how it can be of the great use in life and you’ll likely be pleased to hear that all these skills can be taught.
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Those who are very interested in developing their emotional intelligence should consider reading Daniel Goleman’s exceptional book, Realising the Power of Emotional Intelligence, but here are a few tips to get you started.
Ways to Improve Emotional Intelligence
Way to Improve Emotional Intelligence #1: Notice Stress and Relax
At first, just begin to recognise when you are feeling stressed. At first, don’t try to change anything but just begin to notice your emotions and when you feel stressed acknowledge that you are feeling stressed. Once this become habitual and you are more aware of your emotions, try to either focus on your breathing or allow your attention to focus on one of your senses (these are both meditation techniques). For a full explanation of this, read: Mindfulness Exercise
Way To Improve Emotional Intelligence #2: Be Self Aware
Similar to the above exercise, this time extent your awareness to the different emotions you feel. Don’t try to do anything more than to simply recognise the amount of different emotions that you have. Permit yourself to be an emotional being and simply recognise the gamut of your emotions.
Way To Improve Emotional Intelligence #3: Social Awareness
Communication is a two-way street and so when it comes to social awareness you should be aware of two key things: how you react to other people and how other people react to you. Observe the following things:
When you rush to judgment
When you stereotype
When you become angry all of a sudden
Where you seek attention (at work / home / with friends etc.)
When you become quiet
Other times of marked changed in your emotions
Use your new awareness of these points to develop your understanding of yourself and how and why others respond to you in the way they do (both positively and negatively).
Way To Improve Emotional Intelligence #4: Responsibility
Recognise that you yourself are entirely responsible both for the good and the bad and with this understanding and acceptance, begin to make little changes to the negative points you have observed thus far. The best way to do this is by using the meditation techniques above to calm yourself when you feel angry / low and use this new calmness to choose a new action.
Put it all together:
To give an example of all of the above. Think of a time when you habitually become angry and imagine the following process:
-Recognising how you are feeling
Recognising how your feelings are shaping your actions
Recognise how those actions are shaping the responses you are receiving
Take responsibility for the situation
Focus either on your breath or one of your senses to calm yourself
Choose a different action
Observe the change in reaction from others around you.
Reward yourself with a quiet compliment (this final part is simply to provide motivation for you to continue to use this exercise in the future).
This is an excellent video about emotional intelligence and its importance. Leave this on and listen (you dont need to watch it, just listen) while you go about your work / day. I’m sure this will answer a lot of questions.