We’ve all heard of the IQ test, the infamous examination that determines how smart you are. It is the gateway for top schools. Moreover, if you are successful, it offers the opportunity for ultimate bragging rights. But, isn’t it small-minded to determine one's intelligence simply by a single test? In the race for the perfect IQ score, emotional intelligence (EQ) can often get lost in the shuffle. Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions. Its importance is often neglected in favor of the more technical minded IQ score when in reality, emotional intelligence can largely impact your mental health, interactions with others, and performance at school or work. Emotional intelligence has been proven to be just as important as IQ. Despite its underuse, EQ is proof that there is more than one way to be smart. You can find an EQ quiz here.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Knowing what EQ is is the first step to truly understanding its importance in your life and how improving it can benefit you. EQ emphasizes skills that you use every day and offers you the opportunity to learn about ourselves and grow as people. When emotions are channeled instead of controlled, it alleviates the undue stress that comes from mismanaged emotions, and it helps you to overcome your challenges. It is commonly known by these 4 simple attributes.
Self-management is the part of emotional intelligence that deals with impulsive feelings and behaviors. Maybe you have felt the inner conflict of reckless urges battling reasonable restrictions. The ability to manage these feelings is a skill, it is the one that allows your emotions to be a healthy part of life rather than a hindrance to your health. Self-management asks you to be adaptable and self-disciplined. Scoring high in this category means that you are aware of your impulsive longings and are able to have control over how you react to them. You find ways to express your emotions in a healthy way instead of allowing them to fester and take over your life.
Ask yourself this question: can you recognize what you are feeling right now? Self-awareness prodes your emotional intelligence by asking you questions like this to determine how aware you are of your own emotions. So, how self-aware are you? Do you recognize your emotions, and more importantly, are you aware of how your emotions affect your thoughts and behavior? Self-awareness asks you to know your strengths and weaknesses. The first step is to understand what your feelings are. Be honest with yourself, feelings are messy and uncontrollable. There are some we all like to avoid, but knowing those parts of yourself can help you.
3. Social Awareness
Now that you know yourself, do you know others? Social awareness asks you to be empathetic. Understanding your emotions, needs, and concerns is step one, step two is to use your new intelligence to connect with someone else. Being advanced in this attribute, means that you are able to pick up on other people’s emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize group dynamics. This is important in almost every interaction you have. Connecting with people begins with listening and trying to understand, and sometimes you have to walk a mile in their shoes.
4. Relationship Management
If you score high in this category, it means that you have good relationships. You are able to communicate clearly, and as a result you have the ability to influence others. Having good relationship-management allows you to work well in a team or group. It offers you the skill to manage conflict, so it doesn’t get out of hand.
Why Emotional Intelligence is Important
The question still remains. Why is emotional intelligence important? Of course, we’d all enjoy managed emotions, understanding social cues, and great relationships, but what effect does emotional intelligence have on our lives as a whole, and is the outcome worth the effort to improve your EQ? The 4 major impacts improved EQ has on your life may inspire you to put in the extra work.
1. Performance at school/work
Going to school or work everyday can be a difficult endeavor. There are social complexities, constant surprises, and usually a lot of anxiety. Having a high EQ allows you to handle these intricacies with ease. Social cues aren’t a problem when you have a solid foundation in understanding others' emotions. Having a grasp of how you are feeling and what exactly that means gives you the opportunity to enjoy surprises rather than being caught off guard and unable to adapt. The world we live in today is full of constant stresses. Learning how to embrace your emotions and react to them the way you want to is paramount to your success.
Relationships are full of complexities that always find ways to leave us puzzled. Having a high EQ is the first step to truly connecting with your partner. Being empathetic to their needs and emotions creates a bond to withstand the test of time, one that is the foundation for lots of laughter and connection. The vital skills of communication embedded inside EQ offer the perfect predate study material, so you can be heard and understood by your counterpart.
3. Physical Health
Having a low EQ can be bad for your health. The inability to understand and channel your emotions can lead to high blood pressure, a suppressed immune system, a heightened risk of heart attacks and strokes, and an accelerated aging process. EQ is responsible for helping you manage stress and anxiety, not focusing on how impactful both are on your health leaves you vulnerable to these concerns.
4. Mental Health
It’s no surprise that EQ can have drastic impacts on your mental health. Having a low EQ can leave you vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Being unable to accept and embrace your emotions can leave you feeling isolated and unhappy with yourself. On the other hand, improving your EQ may be the way to fully embrace yourself and to begin your journey to improved mental health.
How Do You Improve Your EQ?
There are many different ways you can work to improve your EQ score. Most of these tips are easy and can be done on a daily basis without much hassle. They are the steps to take on your journey to your new EQ score, one that truly reflects your emotional intelligence and self-love.
1. Practice self-awareness
Make an effort to be aware of what you are doing and how that makes you feel. Out of the blue or when you’re in the middle of something important, you might ask yourself how you feel about what is going on. We all think we know ourselves, but this exercise can be relieving and very helpful for us to figure out what we don’t know about ourselves. Really work on being honest with yourself. Maybe you didn’t realize you twirl your hair when you get nervous or that you are jealous of a classmate's new jacket. It’s a good idea to keep a diary and write about how you feel. Now you have the opportunity to better understand ourselves and to predict what we are going to feel next.
2. Channel your Emotions
We all have emotions. No matter how much we try, they can not be controlled; however, they can be channeled. That pre-exam stress can be your fuel for a workout or a bad day can be your inspiration for a short story. It is helpful to maintain a schedule and keep yourself on track with personal goals. Don’t try to exclude emotions from your life rather give them value and learn to incorporate them into your daily plan.
3. Practice Social Skills
When you’re in public, make an effort to keep an open mind. Have perspective and be open to new things. Try to place yourself into someone else's shoes and have empathy for their situation. If you have curiosity about others, encourage it and use the experience to expand your cultural horizons.
4. Stay Motivated
Staying motivated can be a hard thing to do. Be positive and realistic with yourself, work to understand your weaknesses and to cultivate your strengths. It can be helpful to eat well, stretch, and engage in physical activity. Reach out and keep learning. Don’t let your potential become trapped, instead push yourself out of your comfort zone and into the world of new possibilities.
Finally here are the things to avoid on your emotional intelligence journey.
Don’t allow your mind to be cluttered with drama.
Try not to complain too much.
Distance yourself from debilitating negativity.
Try to avoid selfish behaviors.
Don’t fall victim to peer pressure.
Avoid becoming too critical of yourself.
Don’t dwell on the past.
Emotional intelligence. It’s the gateway to the inner world of our emotions; it offers the stepping stones to success at school and work, improved mental health, and better relationships. Improved by quick and easy techniques such as keeping a diary, setting goals, and asking yourself questions, EQ is the intelligence that allows you to truly understand yourself. There is more than one way to be smart, emotional intelligence proves that IQ is not the only important intelligence.