What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotions are a critical source of information for learning.” — Joseph LeDoux

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence includes: the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions and recognizing, and understanding the emotions of others.

The purpose for developing emotional literacy is to precisely identify and communicate our feelings.

Features of emotional intelligence

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Empathy
  4. Motivation
  5. Social skill

1. Self-awareness

This can be defined as having the ability to recognize one’s own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values and drivers and understanding their impact on yourself and others.

2. Self-regulation

Self-regulation permits you to sensibly manage your emotions and impulses – you show or restrain certain emotions depending on what is necessary and helpful for the situation.  Self-control is a fundamental part of this, but other aspects relate to what you then do: whether you behave in a way which is recognized as ‘virtuous’ or not.

3. Empathy

To be empathetic means you are able to identify and understand others’ emotions i.e. imagining yourself in someone else’s position.

4. Motivation

Being self-motivated consists of: enjoying what you do, working towards achieving your goals and not being motivated by money or status.

5. Social Intelligence is the ability to be aware of the emotions of others, in the moment, and to use that information to manage our relationships. 

Here are five ways to develop your emotional intelligence.

  1. Manage your negative emotions. If someone is upsetting you, don’t jump to conclusions. Instead, allow yourself to look at the situation in a variety of ways. Try to look at things objectively so you don’t get distressed as easily. 
  2. Be mindful of your vocabulary. Focus on becoming a stronger communicator. Emotionally intelligent people tend to use more specific words that can help communicate deficiencies, and immediately work to address them.
  3. Practice empathy. Centering on verbal and non-verbal cues can give you invaluable insight into the feelings of others. Practice focusing on others and walking in their shoes, even if just for a moment. Empathetic statements do not excuse unacceptable behavior, but they help remind you that everyone has their own issues.
  4. Know your stressors. Take stock of what stresses you, and be proactive to have less of it in your life.
  5. Bounce back from adversity. Everyone encounters challenges. It’s how you react to these challenges that either sets you up for success or puts you on the track to full on meltdown mode. You already know that positive thinking will take you far. To help you bounce back from adversity, practice optimism instead of complaining. What can you learn from this situation? Ask constructive questions to see what you can take away from the challenge at hand.

Benefits of Higher Emotional Intelligence

  • People with higher emotional intelligence find it easier to form and maintain interpersonal relationships and to ‘fit in’ to group situations.
  • People with higher emotional intelligence are also better at understanding their own psychological state, which can include managing stress effectively and being less likely to suffer from depression.

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