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. ‘Emotional Quotient’ (EQ) is the measure of this intelligence.
According to Daniel Goleman (1995), an American psychologist, emotional intelligence is a framework of five elements:
- Self-Awareness – People with high EI are usually very self-aware and understand their emotions. Henceforth, they don’t let their feelings rule them. They’re confident – because they trust their intuition. They’re also willing to take an honest look at themselves. They know their strengths and weaknesses, patterns and tendencies, and they work on these areas so they can perform better.
- Self-Regulation – This is the ability to control emotions and impulses. People who self-regulate typically don’t allow themselves to become too angry or jealous, and they don’t make impulsive, careless decisions. They think before they act. Characteristics of self-regulation are thoughtfulness, comfort with change, integrity, and the ability to say no.
- Empathy – Empathy is the ability to identify with and understand the wants, needs, and viewpoints of those around you. People with empathy are good at recognizing the feelings of others, even when those feelings may not be obvious. As a result, empathetic people are usually excellent at managing relationships, listening and relating to others. They avoid stereotyping and judging too quickly, and they live their lives in a very open, honest way.
- Motivation – People with a high degree of EI are usually motivated. They’re willing to defer immediate results for long-term success. They’re highly productive, love challenges, and are very effective in whatever they do.
- Social Skills – It’s usually easy to talk to and like people with good social skills, another sign of high EI. Those with strong social skills are typically team players. Rather than focus on their own success first, they help others develop and shine. They can manage disputes, are excellent communicators, and are masters at building and maintaining relationships.
How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence
Becoming more self-aware of our own emotional intricacies and resolving them is the first step to becoming a healthy parent. Only then can we expect ourselves to raise our children to be their optimal functionally healthy human beings.
The good news is that EI can be learned and developed. As well as working on your skills in the five areas above, use these strategies:
- Observe how you react to people. Do you rush to judgment before you know all of the facts? Do you stereotype? Look honestly at how you think and interact with other people. Try to put yourself in their place, and be more open and accepting of their perspectives and needs.
- Look at your work environment. Do you seek attention for your accomplishments? Humility can be a wonderful quality, and it doesn’t mean that you’re shy or lack self-confidence. When you practice humility, you say that you know what you did, and you can be quietly confident about it. Give others a chance to shine – put the focus on them, and don’t worry too much about getting praise for yourself.
- Do a self-evaluation. Test your Emotional Quotient. What are your weaknesses? Are you willing to accept that you’re not perfect and that you could work on some areas to make yourself a better person? Have the courage to look at yourself honestly – it can change your life.
- Examine how you react to stressful situations. Do you become upset every time there’s a delay or something doesn’t happen the way you want? Do you blame others or become angry at them, even when it’s not their fault? The ability to stay calm and in control in difficult situations is highly valued – in the business world and outside it. Keep your emotions under control when things go wrong.
- Take responsibility for your actions. If you hurt someone’s feelings, apologize directly – don’t ignore what you did or avoid the person. People are usually more willing to forgive and forget if you make an honest attempt to make things right.
- Examine how your actions will affect others – before you take those actions. If your decision will impact others, put yourself in their place. How will they feel if you do this? Would you want that experience? If you must take the action, how can you help others deal with the effects?
If we practice the above skill sets, we are more than halfway there in providing the Best emotionally healthy environment for our children to grow up in. Next comes using Positive reinforcement, i.e. rewarding them for a behaviour done well, rather than punishing them for their mistakes. Showing more approval on our faces and body language than disappointment or anger is life-determining. We must understand that with our behaviour towards our children and towards others, we can make or break our child’s psyche, morale, self-esteem and character and thereby their future personality and relationships.
It is also important to teach our children how to be self aware and self regulate their own emotions in a resilient way. When we learn to observe and regulate our own emotions, we build up ‘Resilience’ in ourselves. Our children are constantly observing us and mirroring our behaviour. They too will, learn to manage their emotions in a similar way modelling us.
Also, when we use positively reinforce the desired behaviours in our children, they build ‘Grit’ or ‘Hardiness’ which enables them to try again and again, no matter how difficult the situations in life!