“There is no separation of mind and emotions; emotions, thinking, and learning are all linked “ – Eric Jensen
“It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head — it is the unique intersection of both.” – David Caruso
“The emotionally intelligent person is skilled in four areas: identifying emotions, using emotions, understanding emotions, and regulating emotions. ” – John Mayer and Peter Salovey
Many of us have heard about the importance of emotional intelligence. But unfortunately, many people are still struggling to understand what this concept means. Moreover, a great many people are continuing to dismiss the importance of this phenomenon, dismissing it as some fashionable concept that does not make much sense. But these people are, of course, wrong.
Emotional intelligence is important and being emotionally intelligent is probably one of the most important aspects of one’s personality development and career success. To understand why emotional intelligence is important, we need to define this concept first.
So, what is emotional intelligence? Various scholars and successful businesspeople have provided various definitions and all of them accurately describe what this phenomenon is. Let’s look at some of them:
John Mayer and Peter Salovey define emotional intelligence thus:
“We define emotional intelligence as the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”
Robert K. Cooper. PhD provides another accurate definition of emotional intelligence:
” Emotional intelligence is the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection, and influence.”
So plainly speaking emotional intelligence is our ability to control and evaluate our emotions. Such an ability is critical for our well-being and happiness. Emotional intelligence includes various skills including the ability to use, understand and manage our emotions.
Importance of Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence is extremely important when it comes to being successful at work. In fact, researchers have established that there is a direct link between emotional intelligence and career success. Those people who possess emotional intelligence are more successful in their jobs and are less likely to have problems with mental health.
In fact, emotional intelligence can be extremely relevant to some careers. For example, if you work in human resources, you often must be able to resolve conflicts among employees and work with their emotions. If you are a manager or have a leadership position, you will also need to communicate with your employees. You will need to motivate and inspire them. All these tasks will require emotional intelligence.
Possessing emotional intelligence will help you make strong connections with the people around you. This is especially important if we are talking about networking and professional development.
With the help of emotional intelligence, you will also be able to read other people’s emotions correctly. You will be able to decipher people’s words and pay attention to their facial expressions and their body language.
Emotional Intelligence and Your Career
Let us have a look at some of the examples of how emotional intelligence can be useful at work. For example, let us imagine that you are working for a company and one day your boss tells you that he is not happy with your work. If you do not have emotional intelligence, your boss’s criticism can make you feel upset and offended. However, if you are an emotionally intelligent person, you will reflect on the situation and take your boss’ criticism on board. You will understand that work is work and that your boss only wants you to improve your performance.
Or for example, let us imagine that one of your colleagues is having a difficult day and is incredibly stressed. Emotional intelligence can help you recognize the signs of stress in your colleague, understand how they feel and help them be less stressed. Empathy, another vital component of emotional intelligence, will help you understand why your colleague is feeling the way he or she is feeling.
Emotionally intelligent leaders can make their employees more productive. Helping your colleagues build strong relationships and connections as well as helping them find a way out of conflicts and supporting them emotionally will have a positive impact on their productivity.
How to Improve Emotional Intelligence
Now that we know that emotional intelligence benefits our career, let us have a look at the ways of becoming more emotionally intelligent.
Pay attention to your emotional reactions during the day.
We do not usually think deeply about how we feel about different situations – but acknowledging the range of emotions that you experience is the first step to developing emotional intelligence. If you ignore your emotions and feelings, you are ignoring something that has a huge effect on how you perceive the world around you.
For example, let’s imagine once again that your boss expressed his or her dissatisfaction with your work. What emotions do you feel when this happens? Name this emotion and recognize it. On the other hand, if your boss says that you are doing very well – what do you feel? When you teach yourself to name your emotions, you will be slowly developing your emotional intelligence.
Notice how your body reacts when you experience certain emotions.
It is a scientific fact that our emotions have a direct bearing on how our body functions. In fact, our body and mind are closely related and by reading the physical cues of your body, you can develop emotional intelligence. For example, when you are stressed, you usually feel like you have some tightness in your chest, or your breathing is shallow. Or, alternatively, when we are happy and joyful our heart starts beating faster.
Don’t judge your emotions.
It doesn’t matter if you feel sad or happy – all emotions are fine, even those that are usually considered negative. By judging your emotions, you will rob yourself of the opportunity to develop emotional intelligence. Every emotion is important as it tells us a lot about what is happening around us. It may be difficult to stop judging your emotions but it’s incredibly important.
Try to identify any patterns in your emotional reactions.
Whenever you feel a strong emotion, pause for a second and ask yourself – when was the last time you felt this way? What triggered that emotion? What happened afterwards? If there is a negative pattern in your emotional reactions, you can work to eliminate or change it.
Identifying patterns in your emotional reactions can help you control your behaviour. You can also keep a journal, where you can write down your emotional reactions. This will also help you get a clear picture of how you usually react to different situations.
Connect with other people and be an open-minded person.
Being an open-minded individual is crucial to developing emotional intelligence. Try, for example, listening to debates on YouTube. Listen to the arguments of each side and consider them carefully. Or, for example, if someone disagrees with your opinion, instead of being angry at them or feeling impatient, try to think about what could shape their opinion.
Make a conscious effort to be an empathetic person.
People with empathy can feel and share the emotions of other people around them. They can listen to others actively and they really care about what other people are saying. To be more empathic, you need to try putting yourself in other people’s shoes. Consider how you would feel if you were in a similar position? Or, for example, when someone is having a strong reaction to a particular situation, notice how they feel and ask yourself – how would I feel in a similar situation? How would I work with my emotions in such a situation?
Being an emotionally intelligent person in today’s world is a real advantage. Not only does it help you achieve success in your professional career, but it also makes you a happier person. It also helps you build strong and meaningful relations with others. Finally, emotional intelligence helps you enhance your leadership skills and increases your chances of becoming a true and effective leader. The advice provided in this article should enable you to make the first steps toward developing this important life skill.
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.