Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify the emotions of yourself and others, as well as regulate and modify those emotions. People with high emotional intellect can more accurately judge the emotions of others based on subtle cues like facial expressions or physical gestures.
Being emotionally intelligent can lead to an overall higher quality of life; both personal and professional relationships can flourish when you’re able to read and adjust to people’s emotions with ease. However emotional intelligence is more than just knowing what someone feels, it’s also understanding the cause of the emotion and how emotional states correlate within someone’s mind. Below I have listed some ways that you can heighten your emotional intelligence.
Identify Your emotions
To develop emotional intelligence, you need to be able to not just identify your emotions but also identify the source of your emotions. Observe how your emotions interact, take for instance the emotion of betrayal. Betrayal happens when we are hurt by someone we trusted, and there are usually two emotions that make up betrayal: sadness and anger. Although betrayal consists of two emotions, when people feel betrayed they usually have one emotion that surfaces at a time, and so betrayal is not just one feeling, but a cycling of two emotions.
Some people have trouble accessing their emotions. In this case I think it is best to try mindfulness exercises like meditation. As you relax your mind allow whatever thoughts or feelings you have to arise. Try to notice where you feel these sensations in your body, then relax. Relax your mind, relax your body, and just breathe. Completing this or similar exercises will help you develop a sense of awareness, which you can then use to stay conscious of how you are being affected by things at all times.
Once you have developed a sense of awareness and are comfortable identifying your emotions, you need to be able to express them effectively. Effective commutators are aware that communication is a process of sharing that involves one person sending while the other receives information. Emotions like anger and sadness can hinder objectivity in communication. These hindrances are known in effective communication as emotional noise. We must reduce the emotional noise and find clarity and awareness if we wish to communicate effectively with emotional intelligence.
Once you have shut out the emotional noise and developed a sense of awareness, you will be able to identify not only your emotions, but also the emotions of others. Developing the skill of being empathetic will enable you to see things from other’s points of view. Empathy can be difficult for many people to achieve, that is why we must learn how to effectively listen to the verbal and non-verbal cues of others (Emotional Intelligence, n.d.).
To regulate our emotions we need to be open to experiences and aware of our emotions, while being able to either allow or delay spontaneous reactions as necessary. In the advent that we are unable to change our emotion, we need to manage negative emotions so they don’t hinder our productivity. A big part of emotional regulation is to be able to manage anxiety:
“If you can tolerate feeling anxious you’ll be less likely to avoid trying new things, more likely to try things a second time if it didn’t go well the first time, and less likely to abandon projects before they’ve become successful,” (Boyes, 2013).
We are actually regulating our emotions all the time. The goal with emotional intelligence is just to bring more awareness to emotional regulation, and strive towards a higher standard of mental clarity and calmness. In moments when we are faced with a difficult person or situation, it’s important to remember to stay proactive and not reactive.
Some great ways to calm yourself when dealing with a difficult person is breathe deeply and slowly and count to ten. If the person is really difficult, you might try counting to twenty. You can also use the skill of empathy to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to see the situation from their position. The goal of emotional intelligence is to feel deeply and understand emotions, while also being able to alter them and stay calm in moments of adversity.
Boyes, A. (2013). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-practice/201304/10-essential-emotion-regulation-skills-adults
Emotional Intelligence. (n.d). Retrieved from https://www.skillsyouneed.com/general/emotional-intelligence.html
Aisha Marie Sho is an actress and writer from New England. She focuses on motivational, theoretical, and philosophical articles. Aisha hopes to share her passion for knowledge with others, while also spreading a message of unity and love. You can see more of her work at www.aishamariesho.com