Updated: Nov 22
What does it mean to be emotionally intelligent? Why is it so important? How do individuals develop it? Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, recognize and manage one's own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, defuse conflict and overcome challenges. It involves being aware of your feelings and those of others and using this awareness to navigate social interactions, make sound decisions, and build healthy relationships.
There are five core components to emotional intelligence: empathy, effective communication (social skills), self-awareness, self regulation and motivation.
Someone who is emotionally intelligent can walk in another person's shoes. They understand what someone is going through and want to understand more. Empathy is a strength that helps people build compassion and understanding. When individuals can relate to each other on a human level, that brings mutual respect and makes resolution easier.
Three ways to build empathy:
Listen more to what others are saying
Put yourself in someone else's shoes
Recognize and show appreciation to others.
People that can effectively communicate are approachable, easy to talk to and collaborate with others. They are strong at building meaningful and respectful relationships.
Three ways to become more effective at communicating:
Practice confident eye contact
Ask open-ended questions (cannot be answered with a yes/no)
Observe and learn from others
To be self-aware means you can recognize your personal strengths and weaknesses. This is a critical component of emotional intelligence because it allows you to step back, question yourself and think before you act. Having self-awareness helps you to understand why you feel a particular way and how it impacts those around you.
Three ways to develop self-awareness:
Use positive self talk
Consider how your actions affect others
Be mindful of your strengths, weaknesses, emotions and thoughts
In order to self-regulate, one should be able to understand and manage their own behaviors and reactions to feelings and things that are happening around you. Self-regulation allows you to express yourself calmly and appropriately. This core component of emotional intelligence is quite complex because an individual not only needs to notice what is going on inside themselves, but also how they might react to others at the same time. Self-regulation does not mean one hides their feelings, in fact, it means they can express their true self in an appropriate manner.
Three ways to develop self-regulation:
Understand that there is always a choice on how one responds to a situation
Learn how to accept your emotions and become more emotionally resilient
Take responsibility for your actions
For an individual to be self-motivated, they need to achieve something because of their own enthusiasm, without pressure from others. You typically set goals for yourself and achieve them. Someone who is self-motivated tends to have passion, dedication and focus.
Three ways to develop self-motivation:
Set small, measurable and attainable goals
Seek interesting challenges to keep up momentum
Celebrate all wins, big or small
Someone who lacks EI might get stressed easily, hold grudges, feel misunderstood, find it difficult to assert themselves, can't let go of mistakes, is unaware of their own triggers, is easily offended and often makes assumptions quickly which results in becoming defensive.
Now that we have touched on what emotional intelligence is, what happens when an individual isn't taught this developmental milestone as a child?
Parents & Emotional Intelligence:
Supporting the development of emotional intelligence is important when raising children. The number one thing parents can do to support EI is to be supportive.
Love your child and show them affection.
Encourage children to try new things.
Show your feelings.
Acknowledge your child's feelings.
Teach your children that emotions matter.
Help kids name their emotions.
Nurturing emotional intelligence in children is important for their success in interpersonal and social relationships in adulthood. When parents don't model conflict, rupture and repair, children don't learn how to navigate their own emotions when something is wrong. Adult relationships with others are impacted greatly by one's emotional intelligence. In order to create emotionally intelligent adults, young children need it modeled for them during their developmental years.
Men and Emotional Intelligence:
Society has evolved over the years. Many years ago there was a social expectation for men to keep their emotions to themselves. Research shows that men experience emotions at the same level that women do. Masculinity has undergone significant transformations in the modern era. Future generations' social and emotional well being depends on both men and women being able to show how they feel, love and resolve conflict.
You might find the following links about Emotional Intelligence helpful: