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Health and Wellbeing

07 Aug 2019

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence, or EI/EQ, describes a person’s ability to recognise emotions, to understand their powerful effect, and to use that information to guide thinking and behaviour to influence that of others.

Emotional intelligence is absolutely essential in the formation, development, maintenance, and enhancement of close personal relationships. Unlike IQ, which does not change significantly over a lifetime, our EQ can evolve and increase with our desire to learn and grow.

Signs that you have “high EQ”

If you have ever been conscious of your own emotional state and been able to identify and manage those emotions, empathised with a co-worker, have a deep conversation about your relationship with your significant other or attempted to manage an unruly or distraught child – chances are that you have a high level of emotional intelligence.

EQ is generally said to include at least three skills: emotional awareness (the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions), the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving, and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and helping others to do the same.

How to increase your EQ

The best thing about emotional intelligence is that it is a skill that can be honed to help you to better understand yourself and others. Below are some tips on how to increase your EQ:

1. Reflect on your own emotions

Take time to identify the emotions and reactions you have to particular situations in your environment. For example, think about how you typically respond when: Your significant other blames you for something you feel is unfair, or a close friend or associate begins to cry unexpectedly.

2. Manage your negative emotions

When you’re able to manage and reduce your negative emotions, you’re less likely to get overwhelmed. Take stock of what stresses you out, what triggers you in certain situations and be proactive to understand how you react in those situations.

3. Use “the pause”

This may be as simple as taking a moment to stop and think before you act or speak. Factors like added stress or a bad day can inhibit our ability to manage our emotions, and sometimes we are tempted to jump on opportunities that look really good at the time but that we haven’t really thought through, so take a minute to pause before you act.

4. Practice being assertive and expressing difficult emotions

The ability to effectively express and validate emotions is essential to maintaining close personal relationships. Practice this by sharing your feelings with someone you trust and if it appropriate to your relationship. If someone shares difficult feelings with you, practice responding to them in a kind, compassionate and caring way.

5. Ask others for perspective

By asking those close to us about our interactions with them, we can learn from their perspective. Often, we don’t realise that other people view us/a situation much differently than we view ourselves, and vice versa. By sharing perspectives and emotional experiences, you are learning how others relate to the world.

6. Practice, practice, practice

Improving your EQ won’t happen overnight. However, consistently practicing these steps will allow you to begin harnessing the power of emotions and use that power to work for you, instead of against you.

 

Rajna Bogdanovic

Clinical Psyschologist

 

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