Have you ever heard the admonition ‘Do not be ruled by your emotions’? This is often said by those who are focused on personal development and are trying to better their lives using more logical than emotional paths.
Learning how to manage your emotions is vital to avoid inappropriate reactions in any given situation. A good way to do this is by improving your emotional intelligence.
Improving this skill is also essential for daily life as it will improve your self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship-management skills. Read on to learn more about this ability, the different types of emotional intelligence, as well as simple examples of emotional intelligence that you can use in day-to-day life.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
According to Harvard Business School, the term ‘emotional intelligence’ was coined in 1990 by two psychologists and researchers, John Mayer and Peter Salovey. The term refers to the capacity not only to understand and manage your emotions but also to recognize and influence the emotions of those around you (10).
People who are highly emotionally intelligent are able to (9)
- Identify, understand, express, and regulate their emotions in a positive way
- Manage stressful situations appropriately, communicate effectively, de-escalate issues, problem-solve and empathize with other people
While this ability is highly valued among leaders and in workplaces, it is also useful in real-life interactions between family and friends.
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What Are The 5 Aspects Of Emotional Intelligence?
While the level of emotional intelligence (EI aka emotional quotient EQ) is said to be genetic, research has also shown that it can be improved through training and the willingness to make small changes in day-to-day life (1, 8).
Daniel Goleman (1998) compiled five aspects of EI as the most important things one must develop in order to improve their EI levels.
This is described as the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions and feelings. Aside from this, it also includes the ability to see how your actions, moods, and emotions affect those around you.
When you are self-aware, you are able to
- Take a step back and take a look at what you are feeling
- See how you react to different emotions
- Correctly identify each emotion that is running through you
Basically, being self-aware means that you are able to recognize how your emotions directly affect how you behave easily. This skill is said to help you better understand your strengths and limits, be more open to new experiences and information, and also interact better and learn from others.
Once you are self-aware and able to recognize your emotions and your reactions to each one, you move on to self-regulation. This is described as the ability to regulate and manage emotions.
This is perhaps where ‘do not be ruled by your emotions’ could best be used. Self-regulation does not mean to shun, ignore or hide your emotions, but rather it refers to the ability to wait for the right time and place to express your feelings appropriately.
People who are able to self-regulate/manage are not driven by impulsive behaviors and feelings. They are said to be less critical of situations and reactive to people’s attitudes. They tend to be more flexible, and receptive and take responsibility for their own actions.
Empathy is simply an external extension of your own emotional (self) awareness.
People who are empathic are able to understand other people’s feelings and see things from their point of view. They are able to ‘put themselves in other people’s shoes’, feel what they are feeling and understand why they feel as they do.
When you are more empathetic, you are able to willingly share your feelings, listen to other people, be more loving, patient, and kind, listen to people, and above all, put yourself in someone else’s position to better understand them.
Social skills are mostly a combination of social awareness (empathy) and self-regulation. They are described as ‘the skills needed to handle and influence other people’s emotions effectively to manage interactions successfully’.
People with great social skills are said to be able to
- Be in tune with another person’s feelings and understand how they feel and think about things
- Collaborate well with others, making them fantastic team players
- Great negotiators since they are able to assess the emotions of others
- Inspire and positively influence others – which in turn makes those around them better versions of themselves
- Possess active listening skills and non-verbal communication skills to communicate well, resolve conflict, and build bonds with others
What pushes you to act in the way that you do? To do the things that you do? For most people, the answer can be found in external factors like fame, money, recognition, and acclaim. However, emotionally intelligent people are said to be driven by more internal factors, needs, and goals.
Because success is measured more from internal factors, these people are always action-oriented and are always looking for ways to do better. Once they set a goal, they are very set on achieving it – They will take the initiative to achieve it and stay committed to the end.
One study published in 2018 in the Behavioral Sciences journal listed a new nine-layer model for EI, derived from various theories and models of EI. They include (3)
- Emotional Stimuli
- Emotion Recognition
- Social Awareness—Empathy—The Discrimination of Emotions
- Social Skills—Expertise
- Self-Actualization—Universality of Emotions
This is described as the realization of personal potential, self-fulfillment, pursuing personal development, and peak experiences.
This is a more holistic level of human consciousness. Those who have reached this level are said not to be tied to identity or ego.
Those who have reached transcendence are said to be able to accept death as part of life, be very interested in helping others and learning about the world, and have the ability to leave their losses behind and seek spiritual significance through life.
This is described as internal harmony – an intense joy, peace, prosperity, and a consciousness of ultimate truth and the unity of all things. Emotional unity emanates humility and empathy that bears with the imperfections of the other. It begins with our self-love, allowing us to extend this essential emotion to everything that surrounds us.
It is important to note that transcendence and emotional unity often aren’t reached by many. To develop your emotional intelligence, explore developing the first five aspects.
A simple trick to training your EI could be making it part of your evening routine by maintaining a journal. As you settle down for the evening, look back to how you handled things/emotions during the day. For example
- Can you name most (if not all) of the emotions you felt during the day?
- Were you able to self-regulate and not have outbursts when something didn’t go your way?
- If someone spoke to you about their struggles, did you take the time to actively listen to them, understand their emotions, and try helping?
- Were you a team player? How did you collaborate with the others?
- Did you do something towards your goals?
Please note that these questions aren’t just for the evening. They can be part of your morning routine checklist, where you go through what you should aim to do for the day to not only train your EQ but simply make the day better for someone else.
What Are The 8 Benefits Of Emotional Intelligence?
There are numerous benefits to improving your EI, however eight benefits that you may start noticing almost immediately include
A research paper looking at EQ in college students found that those who had higher levels of EI were generally happier than those with lower levels (6).
Better stress management
Self-awareness and self-regulation are two aspects of EQ that go a long way in improving stress management and preventing burnout. Studies done on college students and senior managers in business found that better emotional intelligence helped them better manage stress and stressful situations (6, 4).
If you are in a leadership position, you may find that improving your EI makes you a better, more efficient leader overall – which could improve the output in your team (7) and navigate complex interpersonal dynamics within organizations.
Better communication with those around you people with high EQ are good at both verbal and non-verbal communication. You are able to convey your thoughts and feelings clearly and interpret others’ messages accurately.
If you find yourself flying off the handle at the slightest provocation, training your EI can help you handle such situations better. This, in turn, can make you a better friend, partner, parent, employee, and leader. With higher EQ, you can stay calm under pressure and make more rational decisions.
Better emotional understanding
Empathy, a key component of EI, allows individuals to connect with others on a deeper level, understand their needs, and provide support. You are able to understand better what you and those around you are feeling at any given time. This helps you better react to different situations and foster meaningful relationships.
Improved relationships with those around you
High EQ means improved communication skills, empathy, and understanding of others’ emotions, which in. In students, better social relationships have been shown to improve academic performance (5)
Improve physical and mental health
High EQ contributes to better stress management, healthier coping mechanisms, improved emotional regulation, and enhanced interpersonal relationships. As a result, individuals with high EI are generally better equipped to maintain their well-being and resilience in the face of life’s challenges.
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What Are 4 Examples Of Emotional Intelligence?
Before looking at what emotional intelligence consists of, we need to look at examples of the lack of emotional intelligence.
Some signs seen in people who lack emotional intelligence include:
A need to always be right
It doesn’t matter if facts are right in their face telling them that they are wrong. People with low EI will argue to prove their opinion is right and escalate conflicts instead of de-escalating them..
A lack of awareness of other people’s feelings
Such people have a hard time ‘reading the room’. They may keep pushing their ideas/opinions even when others clearly do not seem enthused by them. Such people are often insensitive and will make comments or jokes that hurt or offend others without recognizing the emotional impact.
Prone to outbursts
They are never able to manage their emotions appropriately and demonstrate outbursts, anger, or emotional meltdowns in stressful situations. They are also often impulsive and do/say things without taking a minute to think them through. They usually act first and think/regret later.
Often blame others for their failures/misfortune
Nothing is ever their fault, and they can never hold themselves accountable. If anything goes wrong – even when they are in charge – they often have trouble acknowledging their mistakes or taking ownership/accountability for their actions.
Poor conflict resolution
Someone who is emotionally intelligent will take the time to deal with a bad situation and find a solution. Those who lack EI will avoid the situation/problem and often walk/run away from emotionally charged situations. Please note they don’t walk away to calm down, then deal with it later, instead, they fully intend to avoid the situation or problem completely.
Doesn’t matter what the conversation is about, they’ll always find a way to turn the focus back on themselves and show that they’ve been there and done it better than everyone else, leaving little room for others to contribute.
Examples of emotional intelligence in daily life would be the opposite of everything mentioned above. E.g
- If someone comes to you to talk about something, take time to actively listen and do not try to bring something about yourself – unless it can actually help what they are going through. Listen, understand, and help if they ask for help.
- If something bad happens between you or your partner, take the time to actually sit with them and have a conversation about it – Try not to avoid the situation or hide your emotions. This will just lead to festered emotions that will ruin the relationship.
- Work on your timing – Not every situation requires an immediate reaction. If someone annoys you, you don’t always have to confront them in the moment. Try to stay calm, self-reflect, understand, and regulate your emotions before you react. Then, find the right time to speak to them about the situation, understand their feelings/emotions in the process, and then address the situation.
- Be accountable – We all make mistakes. Instead of looking for a scapegoat, admit to your mistake and offer to fix it.
What Is An Example Of Emotional Intelligence In Real Life?
Say someone in your life did something that you had already asked them not to do. An emotionally intelligent person would:
- Recognize that you are feeling angry that the other person disregarded your words and feelings.
- Realize that your anger makes you want to shout at or avoid the person but that this doesn’t solve the situation. You may choose to walk away from the situation for the time being and perhaps journal or meditate to allow themselves to calm down
- Once you’ve calmed down, calmly approach the offending person – talk to them calmly in private and have a conversation about the situation and express how the crossing of set boundaries made them feel. You can try to understand why this person did this regardless of your opinion. You can also assert that this shall not be allowed again.
- Actively listen to the other person’s explanation with an open heart and mind and try to understand the person’s feelings and find common ground. This will re-establish dynamics and improve your relationship.
Read more: How To Relieve Stress For A Woman.
What Is A Good Example Of Emotional Intelligence In The Workplace?
Some examples of emotional intelligence in the workplace include:
- Actively listening during meetings and showing appreciation for the initiatives of others – This fosters trust and cooperation between co-workers
- Teamwork – Choosing to spend time with coworkers outside the office – Go to lunch or dinner together.
- Offering a listening ear and showing empathy to someone who is having a hard day
- Being flexible and adaptable if your teammates want to try a different approach to solving a problem
Examples of emotional intelligence in leadership in the workplace could include:
- Effectively communicating tasks and goals to coworkers, allowing them to work better. Do not assume that they know what you need/are thinking. Avoid micromanaging your teams and provide them the space to grow professionally.
- Embracing change and new ideas when presented by those under you – Just because you have been working longer and are at a higher position doesn’t mean that you know everything.
- Recognizing the achievements of your team members. Generating and maintaining enthusiasm, confidence, and optimism as well as fostering cooperation and trust
What Is An Example Of Emotional Intelligence In Communication?
Simply being able to calmly explain a frustrating situation to your kids, parents, or partner is a great example of emotional intelligence. A person who lacks EI would result to shouting, blaming others for not understanding or, worse, insulting them.
How To Improve Emotional Intelligence
To improve your EI, you need to train all 5 aspects of emotional intelligence. These aspects, as mentioned above, include self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, social skills, and finally, motivation.
You can treat this as a self-care session during your morning or evening routine several times a week. If you choose to try this, fennel oil might be a great oil to have at hand. In aromatherapy, fennel oil benefits include reducing stress and anxiety, which can help you self-reflect better.
What Causes Low Emotional Intelligence?
Some factors that could lead people to have low EQ include:
- Upbringing – Children often take after their parents/guardians. If the person who shaped their early years had low EI and did not prioritize emotional expression, then the child will very likely grow up the same. Traumatic experiences, emotional neglect, or abuse during childhood also can hinder the development of EI.
- Mental health conditions – psychological issues such as depression, social anxiety, and borderline personality disorder often make it harder for people to find emotional stability and will struggle to identify and manage emotions.
- Alcohol and substance use/dependence – Alcohol and substance use can hinder EQ, however, effects of alcohol abuse on EQ can vary depending on the severity and duration of abuse, as well as individual differences
- Alexithymia, aka emotional blindness – This is an emotional disorder that makes it difficult for persons to experience, identify, and express emotions (2). Individuals with alexithymia often have limited emotional awareness and struggle to articulate their feelings.
Does Low EQ Mean High IQ?
People can be super smart and have a high emotional quotient. Remember that emotional intelligence is a skill that can be improved by anyone if they so choose. People can possess a wide range of combinations of EQ and IQ, and both forms of intelligence contribute to overall human capabilities and success in various aspects of life.
The Bottom Line
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your emotions and also recognize and influence the emotions of those around you. Educating yourself and recognizing examples of emotional intelligence is a great way to build long-lasting meaningful relationships with those around you. This skill is not only important in business but also in interpersonal relationships. Use the above-mentioned EI aspects to improve your social experiences.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A behavioral genetic study of trait emotional intelligence (2008, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Alexithymia (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- A New Layered Model on Emotional Intelligence (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Can emotional intelligence be improved? A randomized experimental study of a business-oriented EI training program for senior managers (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Emotional intelligence predicts academic performance: A meta-analysis (2020, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Exploring The Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence And Academic Stress Among Students At A Small, Private College (2019, files.eric.ed.gov)
- Leadership and Emotional Intelligence: Current Trends in Public Health Professionals Training (2020, frontiersin.org)
- Ten Strategies for Building Emotional Intelligence and Preventing Burnout (2018, aafp.org)
- What Is Emotional Intelligence? (2022, forbes.com)
- WHY EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IS IMPORTANT IN LEADERSHIP (2023, online.hbs.edu)