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What is Emotional Intelligence?

Developing Emotional Intelligence

The ability to understand, manage and express your emotions is called emotional intelligence. People with high emotional intelligence don't just understand their own feelings, they are able to approach interpersonal relationships with empathy. Keep reading to learn more about emotional intelligence, along with a few helpful tips for improving your ability to control and express emotions.

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

We all have unique personality traits and different ways of showing emotions. Emotionally intelligent people have awareness of—and control over—their emotions. They are also able to express emotions in a healthy, constructive way, while handling interpersonal relationships, calmly, judiciously and compassionately.

High emotional intelligence also allows people to identify specific emotions in others and respond in thoughtful ways. Emotionally intelligent people are able to recognize how their emotional responses can affect other people and trigger desired or undesired reactions. This allows them to develop and manage relationships more effectively in their personal and work lives.

How Do You Become Emotionally Intelligent?

As with most things in life, some people have a natural ability to recognize and manage their emotions. That said, anyone can improve their emotional intelligence. This generally centers on five fundamental strategies:

  • Improving self-awareness so you can identify your emotions, triggers and limitations
  • Self-regulating your emotions so they don't have a negative impact on your relationships
  • Developing an inner drive that results from personal joy after positive interactions
  • Having empathy that allows you to identify, understand and experience the emotions of others
  • Developing good social skills that allow you to interact with others in ways that meet the needs of both parties

To develop these traits, you need to honestly evaluate your emotional strengths and weakness. Ask yourself how well you communicate, cooperate and respond to others. Do you get angry, annoyed or impatient? And does this prevent you from resolving conflicts and taking responsibility for your actions? Until you are able to recognize your weaknesses, you won't be able to improve your shortcomings.

At the same time, you don't want to dismiss or judge your feelings without taking an opportunity to think them through. Even healthy emotions can come on like waves: rising, peaking and then fading. Try to avoid cutting off your emotions before they've had a chance to peak. Many times, when we fight against our emotions, they become even more intense.

Finally, make a concerted effort to listen to others more intently. Highly emotionally intelligent people know that others feel stifled and frustrated if they aren't allowed to express themselves. Instead of just waiting for your chance to talk, actively listen to make the other person feel more comfortable about sharing ideas and thoughts. Even if you don't agree with everything you are hearing, thoughtful listening can help you cultivate patience and project a more empathetic image.

This can significantly improve the way you build and manage social relationships while enhancing the way you communicate and collaborate with people at work. By taking the time to honestly assess and enhance your emotional intelligence, you are empowering yourself with an invaluable skill that can elevate your well-being in the many different areas of your life.

The caring therapists at Foundations Counseling can help you live your best life. Contact us today!