What is Emotional Intelligence? It is a concept that has a lot of discussion these days. It is a definition as to what it is that makes people’s success in life, successful relationships, work or any other activity they participate in. The dictionary definition is, “the ability to recognize and control one’s own emotions”. In the same way we can say that the ability to read and interpret the subtle signs of others is emotional intelligence. To put it simple, emotional intelligence pertains to the ability to understand your own and others’ emotions, how they make you feel, how they affect you and how they can positively change your behavior and outlook on life.
In simpler terms, what is emotional intelligence can be defined as our capacity to emotionally experience and react to what is happening around us. The whole concept of EQ is a bit complex; it actually makes up a three-pronged approach, reflecting the components of both psychology and sociology. This approach takes into consideration the person’s beliefs, expectations and experiences from his past, which in turn form the basis of his current psychological state. It then combines this information with current knowledge to arrive at a comprehensive assessment of one’s personality, or the quality of his existing character, and the direction of its future.
The question of what is emotional intelligence can be answered by looking into the lives of successful people from all walks of life. You will find that they have in common a strong sense of themselves, a strong sense of what is important to them and their ability to build strong relationships. As regards their EQ, it is evident that those who possess it have a stronger relationships, are more assertive, are happier, take greater risks and are more mature.
There is a saying that goes ‘The difference between successful leaders and the rest is emotional intelligence’. This is very much true as the ability to communicate effectively and understand others plays an important role in leading a team or leading yourself. This means that effective leaders have higher than average EQ, and that successful teams have people with high levels of emotional intelligence. While it may seem like an obvious observation, it bears careful examination as one of the fundamental ingredients for successful leadership and management.
This brings us on to the next question that arises from the previous one – that of what is emotional intelligence. This is defined as the ability to regulate and manage your own emotions, whilst also being able to understand and interpret others. It involves an ability to use the past to predict the future, and the ability to make rational decisions under extreme stress. Emotionally intelligent people have a much greater capacity for happiness and fulfillment than the general population.
This brings us on to the third aspect of what is emotional intelligence, which is the ability to build positive relationships. As we have seen, emotional intelligence is about managing and balancing your emotions, so to achieve this you need to be a good listener and counsellor both in and out of work. The importance of listening to colleagues, clients, customers and superiors cannot be stressed enough! People will buy into what you are saying before they have any evidence, and if you can’t listen, you don’t deserve to be there.
The fourth aspect of emotional intelligence, and the one we are concerned with here, is our ability to utilise our emotions in a constructive way. Emotions are powerful tools that can help us achieve great things, but they can also be used incorrectly, resulting in loss of business, friendships and relationships. People with high IQ are considered to be good at analysing their emotions in a positive manner and working with them in productive ways, rather than using them to attack or shut down others.
The fifth aspect of what is emotional intelligence is our ability to build effective relationships. As we have seen, Emotional Intelligence is all about how we use our emotions to help us grow as individuals. It is important for us to develop strong relationships with colleagues and clients and those who are able to offer us good advice, and are supportive of us when we need it most. When we are emotionally intelligent, we can make decisions based on facts, rather than emotion, which will almost always result in better outcomes for everyone involved.