What's Your EQ? Defining, Understanding, and Boosting Your Emotional Intelligence

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Thanks to internationally known psychologist Daniel Goleman, the term EQ is nearly as recognizable as IQ.

But, what does it mean to have emotional intelligence, and can it really benefit your life?

Emotional intelligence isn’t just some terminology that only mental health professionals can understand. This is an everyday, real-life concept that affects how you live your life. In fact, emotional intelligence impacts how you see the world and how you interact with the people in your life, as well. Here’s how it works.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Simply put, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand the emotions that motivate you and others to behave in a certain way. And further still, this keen emotional awareness also gives you the ability to learn how to be aware of and how to manage your emotions. When you can identify your feelings and mold your behavior accordingly, it gives you a deeper sense of self-confidence and tranquility.

Why would you go from reading an article about emotional intelligence to wanting to be more emotionally intelligent?

For starters, Goleman’s work has proven that emotional intelligence improves recall while preventing negative behavior. In addition, this honed sense of awareness also improves your confidence level and helps to manage negative emotions.

In the world of business, emotional intelligence is now considered one of the most impactful business concepts because of the positive influence it has on individuals within an organization. It’s clear that this ground-breaking idea has a reach that is key for improving the quality of your life and the quality of your relationships.

How to Improve Your EQ:

With all the benefits emotional intelligence provides, you’re probably asking how you improve your own EQ. Following are a few practical steps to improve your emotional intelligence quotient.

Name Your Emotions and Ask this One Question

The first step is learning how to identify your emotions. The most efficient way to do this is simply to ask yourself what questions.

What are you feeling?

What do you think about those emotions?

Sometimes, introspection can become complicated and negative. Mostly, this happens because you’re asking the wrong questions during self-reflection. In other words, you ask why questions rather than what questions.

By asking yourself the right questions, you will get more accurate answers to your introspection.

Learn to Regulate Your Emotions

Learning to regulate your emotions means learning to have influence over them. An incredibly powerful way to do this is by viewing the emotional stimulation differently.

In other words, you learn to you make a conscious choice to see a situation in a different light – a more positive light.

Rather than accepting that your weekly work meetings are stressful, annoying, and never-ending, for example, you choose to see them as a situation you can, and will, successfully endure.

One key to regulating your emotions is to challenge the way you currently think.

Appropriately Expressing Your Emotions

Another element of emotional intelligence is being aware of how others feel.

This can be more challenging because each person expresses themselves differently. To master this part of emotional intelligence, you will need to observe and be attuned to feedback you receive from others.

For instance, pay more attention to how others perceive your expression of emotion. Are they reacting to the way you’re actually feeling or are they reacting to the way you’re expressing yourself? How you feel and how you express yourself might not align. The best way to know is by the response of others.

Making EQ Your Own

It’s likely that you’ve heard the expression about how practicing makes perfect. While perfection is certainly not the aim of any therapeutic goal, there’s much to be said of practice.

Like with learning anything new, it’s necessary to assimilate so it all sinks in.

With each new situation, practice the above steps. It may not seem natural at first but soon, with consistent practice, emotional intelligence will become second nature.

Janie McMahan, MA, is a therapist in Austin, Texas. She works with couples and individuals to help them understand their emotions and behaviors. If you’d like to improve your life by increasing your emotional intelligence, contact Janie at 512-739-2494.