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What is Emotional Intelligence
Various definitions are available, which all address various ways in which we relate to our own and other people’s emotions. A few definitions cited below:
Emotional intelligence is the habitual practice of:
- using emotional information from ourselves and other people;
- integrating this with our thinking;
- using these to inform our decision making to help us get what we want from life in general
Sparrow and Knight (2006)
Emotional intelligence is as a set of interrelated skills concerning:
- the ability to perceive accurately, appraise, and express emotion;
- the ability to access and/or generate feelings when they facilitate thought;
- the ability to understand emotion and emotional knowledge;
- and the ability to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth.
Mayer and Salovey (1997)
Emotional Intelligence is using thinking about feeling (and feeling about thinking) to guide our behavior.
Neale, Spencer-Arnell, Wilson (2011)
Difference areas of Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence consists of the following dimensions:
- Assessment and expression of one’s own emotions.
This dimension relates to the individual’s ability to understand and assess their deep emotions and be able to express these emotions naturally. People who are skilled in this area are able to sense and acknowledge their deep emotions before most people.
- Assessment and recognition of emotion in others.
The ability to perceive and understand the emotions of others. People who are skilled in this area are much more sensitive to the feelings and emotions of others.
- Regulation of one’s own emotions.
The ability to regulate one’s own emotions – this enables a quicker recovery from psychological distress.
- Use of one’s own emotions.
The ability of individuals to direct their emotions towards constructive activities and individual (personal or professional) performance.
Developing Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence affects one’s physical and mental health. All aspects of EI can be developed and improved. The following principles apply:
- EI is complex. EI is constructed from attitudes, feelings, thoughts and actions that consequently result from them.
- EI can be measured. There are many reliable and scientifically validated measures currently available (Wong and Law EI Scale, Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test V2.0, Emotional Quotient Inventory, The Emotional Competency Inventory to mention a few)
- EI can be changed. Each area of emotional intelligence can be changed and developed, for example through skilled facilitation or coaching. It requires work, as it takes around 21 days to change an attitude.
- Developing one’s EI will impact all areas of one’s life. If one changes an aspect of their emotional intelligence, changes will follow in many areas of one’s life – for example changes with family and friends, at weekends and on holiday.
Benefits of developing Emotional Intelligence
Developing emotional intelligence leads to:
- better physical and mental health;
- improved relationships;
- improved communication with others;
- better empathy skills;
- acting with integrity;
- respect from others;
- improved career prospects;
- managing change more confidently;
- feeling confident and positive;
- higher motivation;
- higher flexibility and acceptance of change;
- reduced stress levels;
- increased creativity;
- learning from mistakes;
- better self-awareness;
- higher EI improves the way people manage themselves
- higher EI improves the way people work with others
Scientific research has linked higher EI scores with:
- better mental and physical health (Schutte et al., 2007; Martins et al., 2010; Zeidner et al., 2012),
- measures of EI positively correlate with measures of psychological well-being (and negatively with anxiety and depression)
- increased well-being and happiness (Cabello and Fernández-Berrocal, 2015; Sánchez-Álvarez et al., 2015),
- better job performance (Côté, 2014),
- more prosocial behavior (Mavroveli et al., 2009)
Emotional Intelligence & Coaching
- coaching supports people in changing the attitudes and behaviours
- developing EI competencies alone will not significantly improve EI, what will is a holistic approach to attitudes, behaviors, feelings and thoughts – which is what a coaching framework offers
- coaching facilitates self-awareness, so people develop a better understanding of what drives them and triggers positive and negative feelings within them.
- coaching supports people when they look for and identify a productive, healthy way forward
Chosen concepts related to Emotional Intelligence
Relates to who you are as a person, not to what you do. Your level of self-esteem reflects how much (or how little) you accept and value yourself as a person.
Regard for others
Relates to how much you accept and value who others are as people. This is different from approving or disapproving what they do – you don’t need to like a specific action of a person, but you respect the person. In other words, as long as the criticism is constructive, it is acceptable to criticize a specific behavior of another person. It is not acceptable to judge them as a person.
Describes how much you are in touch with your body, feelings and intuition.
Awareness of others
Describes how much you are tuned in to the feelings of others, their non-verbal cues. Are you empathetic towards others? Do you really listen to what others are telling you? Do others matter to you? Are you concerned for the well-being of others?
The process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means ‘bouncing back’ from difficult experiences.
American Psychological Association
Resilience relates to how well you bounce back when things go wrong, how effectively you recover and how fast you turn negative attitudes, thoughts and emotions into positive ones.
Relates to the degree of control you have over your own life. Do you see yourself as being responsible for your own actions? The opposite attitude is to perceive yourself as a victim of circumstances and looking to blame others for your failures.
Describes how clear you are regarding your goals. To what extent do your attitudes, beliefs and actions support you in moving towards these goals or distract you from reaching these goals. Do you find yourself procrastinating or looking for excuses and ultimately not moving towards your goals?
Refers to how easy it is for you to adapt your thoughts, attitudes and behaviour when facing change. Do you see change as an opportunity for creating something better or does change cause resistance as you want to hold on to the way things used to be in the past.
Describes the degree of being open and honest about your feelings and whether you make significant connections with others or not. How easy is it for you to be honest with yourself about how you feel and communicate this to others?
It is about keeping a positive attitude in everyday situation but also staying realistic about whether or not things will turn out the way you want and what the chances are of that to happen. It is a balance of positive mindset in the moment and realistic evaluation of the future.
Do you have an inclination to be pessimistic?
Do you typically focus on what’s wrong?
Do you have a tendency to highlight problems rather than solutions?
Do you always assume everything will be just fine without taking the necessary steps to make sure it really is?
Do you set goals that are unrealistic and that you regularly fail to achieve?
Emotional expression and control
Refers to how well you choose the time and the way to show your emotions. It implies that you feel free to express your emotions but you keep control and decide when and how you do this. Do you believe it is not appropriate to show how you’re feeling and consequently you bottle up your emotions during the day? Or do you always allow you emotions to show regardless of however inappropriate it may be?
The ability to share and understand another person’s “state of mind”, feelings, or, at least their emotional reactions to things. Often described as the ability to “put oneself into another’s shoes”, which refers to the attempt of experiencing the exact outlook, feelings or emotions of someone else but within oneself.