Every one of us has emotional intelligence. As humans, we experience both positive and negative emotions. However, a majority of us don’t have the right skills to regulate negative emotions.
Our society and culture condition us in such a way that we lose touch with our own emotions. As a result, we don’t feel empathy and compassion towards others.
Research on emotional intelligence shows that people with high EI are better at thinking, decision making, and have good leadership qualities. It’s a powerful skill that can help you in your professional and personal life.
You are said to be an emotionally intelligent person when you are aware of feelings and emotions generated within you and other people.
The ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions and that of the others are considered to be a crucial factor when it comes to interpersonal behavior. Emotional Intelligence is a skill that can be honed with practice and persistence.
Why Do We Need Emotional Intelligence?
Intellect is one of the most critical faculties of our mind that has worked wonders in the field of science and technology. We have accomplished so much in the last two decades.
We have developed highly intelligent tools and gadgets that have made life so easy and convenient. Everything is available to us at the click of a button.
But at the same time, we are witnessing an alarmingly increasing trend in stress, anxiety, and depression.
Despite all the progress and advancements, a large chunk of the population today still deals with a mental health crisis.
Why is that so?
If you look throughout history, most of the people like famous scientists, celebrities, business people, and politicians had great success in their professions. But at the same time, they were dealing with serious mental health and personal issues.
Let’s take the example of Albert Einstein. A brilliant scientist and a genius that laid the foundation of modern physics. But throughout his life, he struggled with relationship and family issues.
He lived separated from his wife and children. He also diverted parts of his Nobel Price winnings in 1921 to provide for his family expenses.
One of the reasons his wife separated from him was that he expected three meals from her every day without keeping any expectation of intimacy from him.
You may argue that no one gets it all in life. Greatness demands sacrifice. And I agree with you. But does that give us an excuse to justify our suffering?
To live a more fulfilled life, one must learn to develop high EQ (Emotional Quotient) along with a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient). A high IQ with a low EQ creates misery.
Just pause and think for a moment how many uneducated people have successfully built huge businesses. These people lack the intelligence and competence to do it themselves.
What sets them apart is the high emotional component that gives them the ability to recruit and manage people with high IQ. These people have high emotional intelligence and low ego – a perfect concoction for success.
They can’t make fancy PowerPoint presentations or complicated Excel charts, but they can still emotionally manipulate you into buying their products.
We only buy from people and companies with whom we connect at an emotional level. So if you want to build a successful business, you need to connect with people emotionally.
They fail and fall a thousand times. Still, they get up and move ahead without fear. Only a highly self-aware individual has that kind of capacity to take blows from life.
A mark of great leaders is that they have high empathy for people who work for them. If you want people to work efficiently for you, you need to be in touch with their emotions. If you treat them like machines, you will never get their commitment and loyalty.
Emotional intelligence holds a lot of significance when it comes to interpersonal relationships. For example, when a person in your office speaks rudely to you, it’s often a cry for help.
A person with high EI will be able to understand this situation and respond accordingly.
People who behave aggressively are generally hurt and fearful on the inside. If you understand the cause of their fears, you will be able to deal with them efficiently.
Emotional intelligence helps us to understand how people behave in different situations and how to deal with them. It does not make us week or submissive. It gives us the insight to deal with a particular problem effectively.
Not just in the workplace, but it also helps us in our personal lives. It helps us better to understand our friends, relatives, and family.
Five Important Components of Emotional Intelligence
Developing emotional intelligence is an essential aspect of life because there’s no shortage of examples of brilliant people who did stupid things that destroyed their reputation.
Dr. Daniel Goleman is credited with popularizing the term Emotional Intelligence back in the 1980s. He explains in his book, Emotional Intelligence, how EI is the largest single factor that contributes to overall success in the workplace, and how can matter more than IQ.
According to Dr. Goleman, we need to work on it’s five key components to develop our emotional intelligence.
Self-awareness is the ability to see how your feelings, thoughts, emotions, and actions align with your ideas and beliefs.
It’s an understanding of what goes on in the inner world, and being in touch with your true feelings and emotions.
The main problem with most people is that they are scared when it comes to facing real emotions.
But that’s not all. It goes much deeper than that. When we are truly self-aware, we gain the ability to see our thoughts and feelings and how we react to them.
When we are fearful, we tend to act aggressively to avoid that fear. It works for a short time, but these fears come back to haunt us repeatedly. Suppression, on the other hand, is extremely damaging.
The problem is that we have trained our brain to respond in this manner. By repeating this behavior, we learn to accumulate our fears that go deep within our subconscious mind.
These fears rear their ugly head time and again and cause us to react in the most unexpected way and with most unexpected people.
I have seen many cases where people having a bad day at the office take out all of their frustration and anger at their spouse when they get home.
A self-aware person is aware of their feelings and those of others. Only such people are capable of true empathy and compassion.
Learn to Manage Your Emotions (And Others, Self-Regulation)
Imagine a situation when you’re having a casual conversation with a friend or colleague.
All of a sudden, that conversation turns into a heated debate. All eyes are centered towards you and your colleague aggressively arguing with each other.
Both of you are trying to dominate the conversation to prove your point. You are loud and aggressive, creating a commotion and disturbing people around you, and none of you can reach a conclusion. Next thing you know, you are summoned by your HR department.
Have you ever wondered why we lose control over minor issues and do or say things (to others) that we repent later on?
Let’s keep the focus on ourselves and try to understand what’s happening here. Two factors make you lose control:
- Your inability to manage your own emotions
- Your inability to identify and manage the emotions of others.
As I mentioned in the earlier section, you need to be self-aware, i.e., you need to explore and identify your emotions first. If you have already figured that out, the next step is to learn to manage your emotions. It’s a skill that can be learned with practice.
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not asking you to suppress your emotions. That would lead to a host of other problems. It’s not about suppression. It’s about being aware of what’s going on within you and appropriately responding to a particular situation.
Next is the ability to identify what’s going on within the other person. For example, when someone behaves rudely with you, that may indicate that they may be hurt on the inside and ask for help.
People who have that kind of insight into other people make excellent leaders.
I’m not saying that you should take abuse (mental or physical) from others. No way. What I’m trying to say that you have a choice to respond in a way that will not only make the situation worse but will also not further hurt that person who spoke rudely to you.
Stay with me, and we’ll discuss in the subsequent sections about mindfulness and how it can teach you to manage your emotions.
This is something most of us struggle within our day to day lives. We get excited about an idea and start imagining how that idea will lead to success.
We get started with all vigor and enthusiasm. Everything goes well, and we start spending more effort in that particular idea to turn it into a reality.
But there comes a time when our level of motivation goes down. Things don’t seem to be exciting anymore.
We resist work and start generating all kinds of doubts about our idea. Now we need some motivation, so we start watching motivational videos on YouTube or read content on blogs, whatever we can get our hands-on.
After all that motivational talk, we do get some dopamine flowing in our brain, but the feeling is temporary and dies down again after a week or two. Then we seek more motivational content, and the cycle continues.
I learned this the hard way after a lot of failures in life. The best way to motivate yourself is to take action. PERIOD.
There will be times when you won’t feel like working, and you’ll make all kinds of excuses to procrastinate. The main reason behind it is that you are ignoring your emotions.
When you develop emotional intelligence, you become self-aware and more resilient to these types of feelings. You understand that what you’re experiencing will not be the same as you experience after you finish your task.
Emotional intelligence gives you a proper perspective on what you want to accomplish in life. You don’t easily get influenced by what others do or tell you to do.
You become fully aware of your strengths and weakness, and you plan work strategies based on that. As a result, you increase your chances of success.
Developing Empathy and Compassion Towards Others
In this world of high expectations and cut-throat competition, we see people so involved with themselves that they rarely have time to think about other people.
People throw around words like empathy and compassion, but they fail to demonstrate these positive virtues when it comes to real-life situations. Their actions speak otherwise.
People who aim for leadership positions should feel empathy and practice compassion towards others, especially those who are struggling in their lives.
They need to be more person-focused when it comes to subordinates and people (in general) who work in lower positions.
Empathy is one’s ability to feel what the other person is going through. Most people show sympathy, which is nothing more than lip service.
Michael J. Fox, an American-Canadian actor who struggled with Parkinson’s disease in the 90s, said that sympathy is a form of abuse.
When you sympathize with another person, what you’re saying is “I’m sorry about your whole situation, I feel bad, but I’m not going to do anything about it”. Sounds blunt but it’s true. It’s more like belittling the other person.
Even in your relationships, you will be more valued and respected if you can feel your partner’s emotions. Few of the ways in which you can develop empathy and compassion are as follows:
- Step into the other person’s shoes and try to understand his or her situation.
- Try to feel the emotions others go through.
- Listen to people with full awareness before you draw conclusions.
- Verify your facts thoroughly before you make your first comment.
- Don’t be rash in your judgment.
- Practice mindfulness and meditation.
Developing Social Skills
People who develop excellent social skills do well in almost all aspects of life. Developing good social skills can bring about a significant change in your personality and improve your interpersonal relationships with other people.
Do you feel shy or withdrawn whenever you’re attending a social gathering or a meeting? Is it hard for you to make conversation with other people? If the answer to the above questions is yes, you need to work on your social skills.
People who occupy or are aspiring for leadership positions need good social skills. They need social skills to handle conflicts and disputes.
Some ways in which you can develop your social skills are as follows:
- Learning to resolve conflicts.
- Don’t let anxiety hold you back from expressing yourself.
- Encourage other people to express their opinions freely.
- Don’t hesitate to give compliments to others on their achievements.
- Don’t shy away from attending social gatherings.
- Don’t be afraid to ask people for help. Try to join social skills support groups.
In addition to the above, improving your communication skills goes a long way in shaping your personality.
Good communication is the key to good interpersonal relationships and indirectly channels your way to success. If you notice carefully, all good leaders have excellent communication skills.
Understand that there will be times when people will disagree with you. And that’s okay. You don’t have to feel let down because people disagree with your point of view. But it shouldn’t hold you from expressing yourself.
How Can Mindfulness Help Develop Self-Awareness?
Now that we have a good idea about emotional intelligence let’s understand how mindfulness practice can develop it further.
Mindfulness is our ability to be aware of the ‘present moment’. Mindfulness allows us to be aware of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions and witness them arise and disappear in our minds without creating any judgment and reaction to them.
Mindfulness is much more than a technique. It’s a complete lifestyle. You can practice mindfulness any time of the day, and even multiple times during a day.
It not only allows you to be self-aware yourself but also helps you manage your emotions and other people’s emotions.
Mindfulness meditation is a practice that can greatly benefit us when it comes to dealing with our emotions. Meditation is all about directing your awareness inwards and observe what’s going on.
The veil of ignorance makes us suffer in life. Meditation removes that veil and helps us to understand who we really are. Just devoting 10 minutes of your time every day for meditation is enough to get started.
I can go on about mindfulness and meditation, but I don’t want to make this post too long.
So what I’m going do instead is. I’m going to point you to some of the articles I wrote to help you develop mindfulness. They are as follows:
- The Art of Handling Your Emotions Mindfully.
- 12 Ways to Practice Mindfulness in Everyday Life.
- Ultimate Meditation Guide.
Emotional Intelligence is gaining wide popularity in modern times because we need more and more to be in touch with our emotions now than ever before. These are exciting times, but at the same time, they require us to more resilient emotionally.
Mindfulness creates a space between our thoughts and our actions. It keeps our minds clear and helps us make better decisions in life. A calm and collected mind is much more potent than an irritated and agitated one.
That’s it guys. If you enjoyed this article, please do share it and help in spreading the word.
Are you an Emotionally Intelligent person? Have you ever practiced mindfulness and meditation? How was your experience? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.