Emotional Intelligence is a useful construct for thinking about how we manage our feelings and emotions, the extent to which we have personal insight, how we empathise with others and how comfortable we feel in social situations. This goes deeper than the ability to express and control our own emotions. Emotional Intelligence is about how we understand, interpret and respond to the emotions of others.
There are many controversies surrounding this concept, especially in relation to measurement. There is a body of research into the area but it doesn’t settle the debate. However, despite differing opinion, we can still recognise that some skills can be very handy, such as recognising emotions in ourselves and others and managing how we feel.
Emotional illiteracy comes in many forms; we can be so glued to our emotions that we are unable to put them into perspective and realise that the world is not necessarily the way it appears to us when we are in a certain state of mind. This means we can be easily swayed one way or another by the mood of the moment.
Another problem can be that we are unaware of the emotions that control or drive our behaviour. This can lead us into confrontations at home and at work.
The inability to soothe difficult emotions has also been linked to addictive behaviours. Substances can give temporary relief but this can limit self-development and can create more problems in the future.
Reasoning has its role of course, but it’s not enough in itself. Many smart people have been ruined by mismanaging their impulses and emotions. Emotional management is far from being independent of rationality; it is intrinsically connected with the ability to assess ourselves and situations clearly.
The good news is that Emotional Intelligence is an ability and these skills can be learnt. Generally speaking, Emotional Intelligence increases with age! In addition, as it is not the same as intelligence in the traditional sense, you don’t need a high IQ to be successful, just the ability to use emotional information in a meaningful way.
While talking about these areas provides some personal insight, it is often valuable to have an idea of what practical steps might be useful in addressing some of the issues raised. If you would like to start a conversation about Emotional Intelligence, please get in touch.