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What Is Emotional Intelligence?

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There are tests out there online that claim they can “increase your emotional intelligence.” What exactly is that and why do I want more of it?

I’ve seen a few ads and posts in forums now about emotional intelligence and how it affects not only your work life but your home life, too. I decided to Google it and the first site to pop up was Psychology Today. Here’s their definition of the term:

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.

That is definitely a big deal. Many managers out there right now are probably raising their hands and saying, “I do this with my employees on a daily basis!” Maybe you also are constantly talking a co-worker off the anxiety ledge while simultaneously trying to keep your head above water with your own workload. Even typing those sentences stressed me out a little. If we can increase our emotional intelligence, then count me in! Mind For Life claims that all it takes is 5 questions to double your emotional intelligence. Seem too good to be true? Below are their questions, let’s talk them through together.

emotional intelligence

© Flickr user @boetter

1. What emotions and feelings am I experiencing right now?

I think it’s really important to be in tune with your thoughts and how you’re feeling. The older generation in my family has always dealt with these things by bottling them up and letting their feelings fester. It’s easy to confuse feelings of anger and sadness or anxiety and anticipation. Being clear on exactly what you’re feeling is the the first step!

2. What emotion is the other person feeling right now?

We’ll use their list to explore this question. Taking a moment to think about how someone else is feeling is called ’empathy.’ Empathy has been defined by scholars in these ways:

  • as a cognitive mechanism through which people have the ability to imagine the internal state of someone else,[1]
  • as a range of emotional responses that people have to what others feel or experience,[2]
  • as a manifestation of sympathy toward another person,[3]
  • as the tendency to react to other people’s observed experiences,[4]
  • as an emotion of “feeling for” another person.

3. What can I do to control my emotions and reactions right now?

Once we understand the emotion we’re experiencing, we have to figure out how to control it. Don’t get stuck in a downward spiral of emotions. This leads to lashing out at others and possibly burning bridges that could be beneficial to you in the future. We should want to become proactive in this issue as opposed to sitting back and allowing whatever to happen, happen!

4. How can I show genuine interest in this person right now?

Putting yourself in another person’s shoes is a great social skill to develop. By starting with our empathy for others, we can ask this question with sincerity and focus our thought process on this person. This is the path to building meaningful relationships with those around us.

5. How am I interpreting this specific task – as easy or difficult – and why?

When we begin a new assignment, it’s easy to get lost in the newness of it and become stressed. We’ll then interpret the task as too hard or maybe too easy because we didn’t take the time to chat with ourselves about it. We are more motivated to complete tasks that we feel capable of doing, so make sure you are interpreting it in a beneficial way.

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Alyssa Shea

Alyssa Shea

Alyssa Shea transplanted from Illinois to South Carolina. She loves to write, read, and spend time with her dog and her family. Alyssa is very active on social media. She has been part of the AccelaWork team since 2013.
Alyssa Shea

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