What’s your EQ?
The pandemic thrust us into a global health and economic crisis, adding mental stressors to our everyday lives. Coping in this environment required many of us to, consciously or instinctively, tap into our emotional intelligence (EQ). It’s the same EQ skills of empathy and optimism that will help us better navigate future crises and also help others to do the same.
What is EQ?
Emotional intelligence is also known as emotional quotient. It’s the ability to understand, use, and manage your emotions to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.
Did you know that EQ affects your mental health? Uncontrolled emotions and stress can make you vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Embracing EQ is a good way to develop positive coping skills and manage difficult emotions.
Emotional intelligence helps you build stronger relationships, succeed at school and work, and achieve your career and personal goals. It can also help you to connect with your feelings, turn intention into action, and make informed decisions about what matters most to you.
Attributes of EQ
Emotional intelligence is commonly defined by four attributes:
- Self-awareness—You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behaviour. You know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence.
- Self-management—You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviours, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
- Social awareness—You have empathy. You can understand the emotions and needs of other people, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
- Social skills—You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team and manage conflict.
Build your EQ
If you’d like to further develop EQ traits, here are some tips on how to improve your skills.
Practice maintaining a positive attitude. You’ve probably noticed that another person’s negative attitude can affect yours, and vice versa. Emotionally intelligent people are aware of other people’s moods and guard their attitude accordingly. If you’re experiencing a negative outlook, try praying or meditating, or keeping positive quotes at your desk or somewhere you can see them easily.
Practice self-awareness. Emotionally intelligent people are aware of their own emotions and how they can affect those around them. To become more self aware, starting a mindfulness practice can help. Find a few ways to improve your presence, like meditation or yoga. When mindfulness is practiced, behaviour becomes more intentional, and increased self-awareness develops. You can also ask a friend to clarify your strengths and weaknesses. An outside perspective can help you see your emotions more objectively.
Practice empathy. Emotionally intelligent people understand that empathy—the ability to understand how another person feels and why—is a trait that shows emotional strength. Focusing on others instead of ourselves is a good way to start being empathetic. Replace assumptions with curiosity. Look beneath the surface of the other person’s attitudes and actions. It’ll foster mutual respect and understanding between you and them, even though they may have a different opinion or situation.
Did you know?
About 2,000 years ago, Plato wrote, “All learning has an emotional base.” Since then, scientists, educators, and philosophers have debated and studied the importance of feelings. For a large part of history, conventional wisdom said emotions keep us from making good decisions and keep us from focusing.
However, in the last three decades a growing body of research is proving just the opposite.
The term “emotional quotient” was coined by psychologists John Mayer and Peter Solvey in the beginning of the 1990s. It was later popularized by Daniel Golman, doctor of psychology and scientific journalist at the New York Times, when he started writing about EQ research in the newspaper. In 1995, Golman published The Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ, which ended up becoming an international bestseller.
As emotionally challenging as the pandemic has been, the silver lining is that we have fine-tuned our EQ skills. It’s these skills that will help us better manage any challenges ahead.