Emotional Intelligence: How High is Yours and How Will Improving it Affect Your Life?
Emotional intelligence is a broad and deep topic, one that few of us understand, but one that affects all of us on many levels, personal and professional. Having a basic concept of what emotional intelligence is and how we demonstrate it in our everyday lives allows us to find ways to build our intelligence and improve our relationships and overall quality of life.
A simple definition of emotional intelligence is “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” Broken down, this addresses our own emotions and the way we interact with others. So let’s explore how to evaluate your level of intelligence in each of the areas and follow up by looking at how this affects your life.
Awareness - A simple way to gage your intelligence in this area is to ask yourself how many emotions you can identify during the day. If the number is small, you likely have some work to do here. You can start by keeping a notebook: every night write what you felt during the day and what the catalysts were. This results in increased awareness of your emotions which in turns gives you greater control.
Control - Do you ever react to people or situations in ways that surprise or bother you? We all do, but the frequency of these occurrences demonstrates either high or low emotional control. Taking a minute to understand your emotions before reacting puts you in control and allows you to improve communication.
Expression - Even when you understand your emotions, explaining them to others can pose a formidable challenge. Simply put, if others readily understand you, you know you have high intelligence in this area. If not, begin practicing patiently with those who know you best. Learning to express emotions effectively improves any imaginable aspect of life - personal and professional.
Empathy - If you have trouble understanding or sympathizing when others attempt to communicate their emotions, this is the area that needs work. Take time to listen with an open mind, remembering that someone else’s experiences and perspective are just as valid as yours. Building empathy allows you to better understand the world and make wiser decisions.
Judiciousness - Taking empathy to the next step involves listening to multiple people, evaluating each perspective, and taking appropriate actions in response. Possibly the most advanced part of emotional intelligence, making wise decisions grows out of experience following the previous steps and building intelligence in those areas. Increasing judiciousness brings loyalty and growth.
Each of us has varying strengths and weaknesses, but evaluating them and taking these steps to improve the weaker areas results in stronger relationships, wiser decisions, and unlimited growth.