What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognise and manage your emotions. Traditionally, Emotional Intelligence is understood in terms of four quadrants: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness and Relationship Management.

Self-awareness refers to knowing how we are feeling at a given moment. In fact, we are curious about our feelings and want to understand them. Importantly, we are aware that there are connections between our thoughts, feelings and actions. We want to know what causes our feelings, how to use the right words and how to describe them.

Self-management naturally follows from Self-awareness. Once we have a sense of our emotions, we need to know how to handle them. Emotions that get out of control are good for neither ourselves nor others affected.  Social norms require that we take charge of our feelings. If strong feelings, like anger or depression are not managed, we could hurt others or ourselves.

Social Awareness refers to being aware of others’ feelings. We have some sense of how our interactions affect them. In fact, you can see how social awareness flows naturally from self-awareness. We feel empathy, consideration and kindness. This helps us to connect more readily and genuinely with other people.

Relationship Management naturally follows from Social Awareness. Once we improve our understanding of others, we are able to give better responses. Consequently, we act more meaningfully. Our interactions are more harmonious. As a result, our relationships improve, privately and at work. Cycles of toxic reactivity are less likely to occur.

EI in Private Life

In private life, the business and challenges of everyday life can make us stressed and anxious. Knowing how to respond appropriately to family, friends and loved ones can save relationships from deteriorating or even failing. The inability to appreciate different perspectives and reactions can have disastrous results. When you understand how each person can perceive the same situation differently, you have a head start in responding with more care and empathy.

EI in the Workplace

Business and organisational leaders realise that dealing well with emotions is crucial to working effectively. This is especially important amidst economic change and uncertainty. Emotions can be tested and resilience strained. Before you know it, behaviour becomes highly charged, erratic, and out of proportion with events.

But when staff manage their emotions well, workplaces function more effectively. On the one hand, workplaces benefit by an improved workflow. On the other, individuals are less stressed. They manage their emotional reactivity and respond more calmly. It makes sense to learn these valuable skills. You then have them when you most need them.

Do we all have Emotional Intelligence?

Some people have Emotional Intelligence naturally, especially if they have had good role-models during childhood. Certain personality types also seem to be more sensitive to their own and others’ emotions. But for others, this ability does not come naturally. So if they want to avoid a lot of heartache, they will have to learn it. At some stage in our lives, this probably applies to most of us.

How can we learn Emotional Intelligence?

To give you more insights into Emotional Intelligence and to learn the skills needed, see the links: Mastering Emotions and Mastering Emotions Video Course. See also downloadable PDFs: About Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence and the Brain.

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Between Stimulus and Response, man has the freedom to choose (Stephen Covey)