Emotional Intelligence is “street smarts,” as opposed to “book smarts” when speaking about emotional strength. Emotional intelligence accounts for a great deal of a person’s ability to navigate life effectively. We experience different levels of emotional intelligence based on our own life’s teachings and experiences.
Learning to understand the five components of emotional intelligence will greatly enhance ones ability to understand people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with others.
Five Components of Emotional Intelligence
Self awareness is the ability to recognize an emotion as it happens. Developing self-awareness requires tuning in to your true feelings. If you evaluate your emotions, you can manage them. The major elements of self-awareness are
- Emotional awareness (one’s ability to recognize emotions and their effects) and
- Self-confidence (sureness about your self-worth and capabilities).
Being both aware of your emotions as they occur and your ability to feel confident to handle them make up the self awareness component of emotional intelligence.
Self regulation is the ability to control your reactions, especially your reaction to negative emotions. If you have poor self-regulation, you feel that you have little control over when and how you experience your emotions. However, you are able to decide how long an emotion will last! Choosing how long each feeling lasts will ease other negative emotions (i.e. anger, anxiety and depression) from destroying your ability to self-regulate.
Self-regulation also involves
- Self-control (managing disruptive impulses),
- Trustworthiness (maintaining honesty and integrity),
- Conscientiousness (taking responsibility for your own behavior),
- Adaptability (handling change with flexibility) and
- Innovation (being open to new ideas).
Working on the skills listed above will help you to become more self aware, and therefore feel more in control of yourself and your reactions to your environment.
Motivating yourself for any achievement requires that you set clear goals and keep up a positive attitude. Many of us are predisposed to either a positive or negative attitude. Practice to think and act more positively by refraining from negative thoughts.
You refrain from negative thinking by noticing negative thoughts as they occur and framing them into a positive thought. For example, “My car broke down, therefore I can’t go to work.” Re-framing your thought might look like this: “My car broke down, but what other transportation options to I have? I could walk, ride my bike or take a bus.” By creating a positive thought with a potentially more positive outcome from an initial negative thought improves motivation.
Motivation consists of four categories:
- Achievement drive (your constant striving to improve),
- Commitment (aligning with the goals of the group or organization),
- Initiative (readying yourself to act on opportunities ) and
- Optimism (pursuing goals persistently despite obstacles and setbacks).
Empathy is the ability to recognize that how people feel is important and to understand unspoken emotional signals and control the signals you send to others. The more skillful you are at understanding the feelings of others’ signals the better you can control the signals you send to them.
A person with strong empathy skills excels in the following five areas:
- Service orientation (anticipating, recognizing and meeting others needs,
- Developing others (sensing what others need to progress and encouraging their abilities,
- Leveraging diversity (cultivating opportunities through diverse people),
- Political awareness (understanding a groups emotional climate and power relationships) and lastly
- Understanding others (discerning the feelings behind the needs and wants of others).
Social skills help us to meet personal goals by learning how to better collaborate and cooperate with other people. The most useful skills to strengthen your “people skills” are the following:
- Influence (effective persuasion techniques),
- Communication (sending clear messages),
- Leadership (inspiring and guiding groups and people),
- Change catalyst (initiate or manage change),
- Conflict management (understanding, negotiating and resolving disagreements or learning to collaborate and cooperate with others to meet shared goals).
Understanding how our emotional intelligence plays a role in our success both in personal and work relationships puts us on track for satisfying interpersonal relationships.