WTF is Emotional Intelligence

About two months ago, I began my journey into self-discovery and focused on learning more about myself.  I began listening to podcasts, and through this, I learned about the concept of “emotional intelligence”. So what is “emotional intelligence”? “Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and mange ones on emotions, as well as the emotion of others” (Psychologytoday.com, 2019). 

The thought of multiple intelligences was something I had never really thought of but being the curious over-thinker that I am I was intrigued and dived into understanding the concept more. When we think of quantifying and measuring intelligence, we think of measuring one’s IQ (intelligence quotient). IQ testing dates back to, Paul Broa (1824-1880) and Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911) were among the first scientist to think about the meaning of intelligence.  The research they did was made with the assumption that the size of an individual’s brain was the main factor when pointing out who the smartest of the smartest were.  The bigger the brain the smarter the individual. Obviously, there have been newer developments in IQ testing and research but the study itself is still relatively new.

I am a little biased when it comes to the IQ test because I am a firm believer that in order to measure a person’s intelligence, it important to understand the individual being tested.  This includes an individual’s family history, upbringing, and overall health. Though many researchers claim that the strands of different intelligence are developed to make individuals comfortable in fitting in with society, I argue that it is a real thing.  I think that if individuals focused more on emotional intelligence throughout childhood and maybe even made it a part of education programs, we might have higher intellectual individuals in this world. 

I believe that my personal and professional experiences are direct proof of this.  I have a bachelor’s degree in human services and have worked in the social work field for about five years.  Through this experience, I have had the privilege to work with many individuals who have the education but lack the field experience that I have.  The individuals I speak of are often have higher positions than I do and the prestige of more advanced degrees; yet when it come to being in to actual professional experience, my knowledge surpasses them.

I might be new to the social work field, but I am not new to human development.  From an early age, I always tried to comprehend others and the emotions attached to them.  Thus, I have a naturally high emotional intelligence which was developed through my unique upbringing.

 So why is emotional intelligence so important?

  1. Self-Awareness: Being self-aware allows us to know our strengths and weaknesses which allows us to see how we react to situation and people.
  2. Self-regulation: Your able to regulate your emotions and keep them in check as necessary
  3. Motivation: It allows higher motivation which allows individuals to be more resilient and optimistic.
  4. Empathy:  Being able to connect with other people by using empathy and compassion.
  5. Social Skills: Emotionally intelligent people show they genuinely are for and respect others and they get along well with them.

So even after reading the all of this, why should anyone care?

I believe my emotional intelligence has allowed me to succeed in social work and in life.  It has allowed me to create stronger bonds and have more honest conversations with the individuals I have worked with.  This includes individuals who are victims of crime and abuse.  It allows me to not see them as victims but regular human beings that have gone through experiences that I have not gone through.  Emotional intelligence allows me to have open conversations rooted in empathy which allows trust and rapport to be built without which my work would be impossible. The other benefit of my emotional intelligence is that I am naturally able to adapt to high stress and crises situations which occur when you least expect them too.  For example, one night out with friends at a bar a male came up to me and tried to kiss me thinking I was intoxicated.  While I was highly intoxicated, I was able to quickly de-escalate the situation by re-directing the individual with a question which stomped him; this allowed me to have full control of the situation and walk away safely. Someone with a lower emotional intelligence might have gone straight to being angry and made a bad situation worse. 

So how can someone work on their emotional intelligence?

  1. Reflect on your emotions.  Think about your own emotions and how you typically react to negative situations.  Being more aware of your emotions and typical reactions, you can start to control them.
  2. Ask others for input on how you come across emotionally in charged situations.
  3. Pause!  Think for a minute at the least before you act or speak.  This is probably the hardest, but keep working at it and it will hopefully become a habit.
  4. Become more empathetic by understanding others peoples emotions and feelings.  We live in a very selfish world at times so trying to understand where others are coming from regardless if you disagree or agree with them is important.
  5. Learn from criticism!  This is a hard one, but it’s important because it allows for self-growth and self-awareness.

Hopefully, after reading this, you are able to self-reflect and use this information for self-growth.  It’[s not an easy process, and it is important to realize that you can spend your entire life trying to understand it but that’s ok.  It takes practice and patience to fully understand emotions.  So regardless if you believe that “emotional intelligence” exist on the same level as the intelligence quotient, you can at least agree on the importance of being in tune with one’s self while being in tune with the world around us.  This will allow you to understand that when things go wrong in life, that you are able to rise above the stress of it all instead of going into depression or becoming anxious.  Being able to say to be resilient, adapt to the circumstances life deals you, and move forward is powerful and being in-tune with your consciousness is the key to life.  Nobody should know you better than you know yourself.

Recommended read: Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Golemn

Reference Page Entry

 Psychologytoday.com. (2019). Emotional Intelligence. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/emotional-intelligence

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