What is Emotional Intelligence?
The ability to understand, express, predict and influence the emotional behavior of yourself and others is Emotional Intelligence.
“Emotions” & “Intelligence”, these two words pose the same question in my mind as what came first, the egg or the chicken. Humans being more intelligent have emotions more complex than animals. There is a list of 72 human emotions named on Wikipedia and we “intelligent people” constantly feel more than one emotion at any given point of time, good luck with that! But then it’s our emotions that have given birth to a lot of the intelligence that we have. Curiosity took us to the moon and back,whilst, sorrow and grief are responsible for numerous breakthroughs in medical science.
All our decisions are influenced by both our emotions and our intelligence, some decisions are more influenced by our emotions and others more influenced by our intelligence. There is no right mix to this cocktail. We all try to find our balance.
Emotional Strengths and Weaknesses
The emotional strengths are the emotions which do not influence our decisions often. The emotional weaknesses are the emotions which influence our decisions deeply or very often. There is unique mix of levels of emotions in each individual, combined with intelligence this forms the personality of a person.
In our weaker moments we give way to our emotions and allow them to flow uncontrollably and command our actions, this is called an emotional outburst. This is a stage when we are being controlled by our emotions, rather than controlling our emotion(s). More often than not, by the time our intelligence regains control, the deed is already done and cannot be undone, sometimes this will leave a lifelong regret or it may be a blessing in disguise. You would be lucky if it’s the latter, but what if it is not?
Are you Emotionally Intelligent?
When was the last time you identified your emotional strengths and weaknesses? When was the last time you worked on improving them? When was the last time you leveraged your emotional strength? When was the last time someone else leveraged your emotional weaknesses?
How do I improve my Emotional Awareness?
Let’s start with identifying our emotions; it is not easy. It requires deep introspection, you need to ask yourself questions like: What are the active emotions I have right now? Which emotions do I carry throughout the day? How and when do I switch my emotions? Do I carry the same emotions at home, in the workplace, while driving or catching a train? Most likely you do not, so why does this change happen? Are you controlling this change or are the people around you influencing it?
List all the prominent emotions you felt each hour of the day today and try to do so for a week or two, soon you will see a pattern emerge out of this data.
You will notice how your boss who failed to acknowledge your efforts left you frustrated and annoyed, how an unknown person who cut you off on the way back home almost drove you to a road rage or maybe how your favorite show or game on TV filled you up with excitement and joy.
Now comes the part where you identify which of these emotions have been visiting you most often and what triggers them. Which ones were you in control of? And which emotions made you do things you wouldn’t otherwise do? Did someone take advantage of your emotions? Did you let this person do so deliberately as an appetite to your emotional hunger?
Also, focus on the emotions that leave you confused and unreactive, the ones you walked away from. These are the lesser-experienced mix of emotions, the emotions that your brain does not know how to react to.
What do I do with my Emotional Awareness?
Did you notice how we literally hand over the keys to our emotional triggers to people who may not even have a significant role to play in our lives? The emotions that form a large part of our personality are actually being controlled by the people around us!
Let’s mix our study of emotions so far with our intelligence. Were your emotions triggered by the actions of others around you? Did you let your boss, a work colleague or an unruly car driver drive you to the worst of your behavior? Is it possible to limit the emotional influence over you to only the people who matter and are sensitive towards your emotions?
The time you were feeling at your best, bubbling with the emotions of joy, hope, confidence, passion; what did you do at that moment? Did you use all this energy to achieve something? Did you pick up your dream project and make something out of it or were you on the couch enjoying the feeling? Was there something more productive that you could have achieved with all that energy?
What were your actions at “not such a good time” of the day? Did you end up spoiling a relationship with a work colleague or were you testing the tar limit of your lungs? (Yeah… you know what I mean). Were you smart enough to express your controlled anger with an unfulfilling vendor and renegotiate the terms?
Why be Emotionally Intelligent?
Being in control of your emotions and using them at the right time and place could find you a new force, a driving power that will get your difficult jobs accomplished. It certainly would leave you with fewer regrets in life and more self-awareness. It will alert you to early warning signals of a potential outburst. When this occurs, walk away from the situation if necessary but, if you do have control of your emotions then face the situation head-on without letting your emotions overpower your intelligence.
Once you achieve this, you will discover a new person within you. You could also move on to the next level of Emotional Intelligence where you observe and understand the emotions of others. You will be able to predict, respond and influence the emotions of people around you.