If you had met me several years ago, you would’ve found it was tough to be around me. I was challenging to work with and being my friend might’ve been a taxing experience for you. I also really struggled with change, both personally and professionally. I didn’t know it then, but I was low in emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence (also known as EQ or emotional quotient and EI for short) spans across all aspects of our lives and is one of the most critical skills that we need to be successful in human interactions, relationships, leadership and other roles we have in our lives. It is a powerful tool to endure through challenging times and to appreciate the good times. It contributes to positive thinking and mindset.
Through opportunities provided by work and feedback from my leaders and team, I was able to learn more about emotional intelligence and increase it over time.
What is emotional intelligence (EI)?
According to “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” written by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, EI can be defined as:
“The ability to recognize, understand and manage our emotions as well as identify and influence the emotions of others.
Emotional Intelligence can be broken down into four main skills:
1. Self-Awareness – Your ability to recognize your emotions in the moment and understand your typical reactions to specific events, challenges and people.
2. Self-Management – Your ability to use your awareness of your emotions to stay flexible and positively direct your behavior.
3. Social Awareness – Our ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and understand what is going on with them.
4. Relationship Management – Your ability to use your awareness of your emotions to manage your interactions successfully.
Emotional intelligence also means being able to identify your triggers and glimmers. Triggers are signals of potential threats and glimmers are signals of safety. Emotions are a physical reaction to an event.
Why is emotional intelligence so important?
Emotions are a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. In simpler terms, an emotion is a response to something.
When an event or change occurs, you quickly and unconsciously tell yourself a story about that event or change based on your past experiences, upbringing, biases, etc. That story (which only has a speck of truth in it) creates an emotional response.
Emotions drive behavior. Emotions are at the core of what you do and what you say (or don’t do and don’t say!). This ultimately determines how you show up for yourself and others in a situation. Your actions and their impact can negatively or positively impact your mental health and well-being.
Without being intentional about emotional intelligence, it is easy to react to situations in an unproductive way or cause unintended impacts to those around you. When we practice emotional intelligence, we choose how to respond to a situation.
Emotionally intelligent people know that emotions are neither good or bad, but instead that they are indicators for a self-check-in. They know how to use the emotions that best serve them and release the ones that don’t. They know how to pause and check the story they have told themselves. They know how their words and actions will impact those around them and use that information to interact with others effectively.
Check out these emotional intelligence resources to learn more!
- Emotional Intelligence 2.0 (comes with self-assessment code)
- Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
- Anything Brene Brown
- 6 Steps to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence
- Future blog posts here
Emotional Intelligence courses on LinkedIn Learning (requires access):
- Developing Your Emotional Intelligence
- Emotional Intelligence Basics
- Leading with Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is a life hack. If you can become skilled in emotional intelligence, you will positively change how you navigate people, relationships, and situations in a productive and conducive way. You will see positive changes in every aspect of your life.