If someone were to ask you your IQ, chances are you would at least know what they were talking about. You might even know your exact IQ score or have taken a test at some point in your life. But if someone asked about your EQ, would you have any clue what they meant?
Emotional quotient, or your emotional intelligence, is another aspect of intelligence and one that can play a crucial role in your success. The idea of emotional quotient emerged around 1995 when researchers realized that IQ was not the only thing that could predict a person’s success in life. In fact, many of them realized that people with high IQ scores frequently did not achieve the amount of success their intelligence suggested. They found that many of these folks had low EQ scores and that was holding them back.
So, what is emotional quotient? How do you use your emotional intelligence in your daily life? Can you improve your EQ or is it something you’re stuck with? Answers to these questions can help you utilize a powerful and useful tool.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
The very simple definition of emotional intelligence is your ability to understand other people and what motivates them as well as your own motivations and emotional intelligence. Your ability to monitor and manage your emotions also ties in with your level of emotional intelligence.
An excellent example of emotional intelligence might be two people who have a stressful day at work, one with a higher EQ score than the other. When the person with the lower emotional quotient goes home, they might react in anger to their kid accidentally dropping their dinner plate. This person is using their unpleasant experience at work and taking it out at home. The person with a higher emotional quotient might go home and if their child accidentally drops their dinner plate, will understand that it is an accident and not something to trigger intense anger.
There are five components to emotional intelligence. These five areas work together to create your total EQ and researchers can look at each area to see your strengths and weaknesses.
Your ability to see and understand emotions as they happen to you is your level of self-awareness. Your self-awareness is the basis of all emotional intelligence, and it is what you can work on to most influence your EQ.
You can break down self-awareness even further into two categories:
- Emotional awareness or the ability to recognize your own emotions and the effects they have.
- Self-confidence or the capability you have and the sureness in your self-worth.
When people have problems with emotional intelligence, often it is an issue of self-awareness. Either you don’t understand what you are feeling and don’t know how to react, or you can’t recognize different emotions in others. That second issue makes it harder to work together with other people.
You really have no control over when emotions occur in your life. No one does. You do have a say in how long the emotions will last, how intensely you feel them, and how you react to an emotional situation. The ability to do those things is self-regulation, and it also requires practice like self-awareness.
A person that has poor self-regulation when it comes to emotional intelligence often spends most of their time reacting to situations. It’s almost like an instinct. If something bad happens, they immediately respond with anger or spite or jealousy or any other negative emotion. An emotionally intelligent person can recognize those emotions and decide what they want to do in each situation that will best serve their needs.
Often self-regulation involves things such as:
- Managing impulses through self-control
- Upholding standards of honesty and integrity
- Taking responsibility for your actions
- Being flexible in changing environments
- Being open to new ideas
Many people use things such as mediation, getting out in nature, journaling, and other techniques to help with their self-regulation.
You might ask what motivation and emotion have in common but motivation is a large part of emotional intelligence. Motivation is the force that pushes you to action and drives you towards goals. Emotion is your state of mind based on your situation and surroundings. Motivation and emotion work hand in hand to help propel you forward in life.
Motivation regarding emotional quotient relates to your ability to work towards change and a more positive frame of mind. We all have negative thoughts or situations from time to time, but with motivation, you can reframe those negative ideas into a positive light. This area of emotional quotient also requires:
- A desire to strive towards a certain degree of excellence
- Committing to your goals or the goals of a collective group
- An ability to take the initiative and act on opportunities
- Continuing to work towards your goals despite setbacks
While the first two components of emotional intelligence deal with your own thoughts and actions, empathy is the innate ability to recognize how others feel. In other words, you can put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand what it’s like to feel their emotions.
Empathy can only occur when you have a higher level of self-awareness. You can’t understand the emotions of another person if you don’t honestly know what you feel. Once you can empathize with another person, you are one step closer to a higher EQ.
To work on empathy, you need the ability to:
- Recognize other people’s needs
- Understand the motivations and wants behind those needs.
Again, this component has to do with your interactions with other people. We all know the broad sense of social skills is the ability to interact with others, but what does that have to do with your emotional quotient?
The better you understand your emotions as well as the emotions of those around you, the better you will be able to interact. You can use your awareness as well as your empathy to build better and stronger relationships with those around you, whether it’s your coworker or your family member.
There are a lot of ways you can improve your social skills, but some essential characteristics include:
- Clear and helpful communication
- Good conflict management and resolving disagreements
- Building a relationship
- Working with others toward shared goals
How Can You Improve Emotional Intelligence?
It might seem like your emotional quotient is this big looming thing you really have no control over. Many people feel like their emotions have a mind of their own and they are only along for the ride. While that might be true for some people, there is no reason you can work to have better emotional intelligence. It might take a lot of work and focus, but with dedication and motivation, you can improve over time.
Here are just a few tips on how to improve your emotional intelligence.
Work with A Professional
This isn’t always an option for everyone, but it is one of the best ways to improve your emotional intelligence. A therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist can give you the tools to better understand your emotions and how to work with them. They can also help improve your relationships with others.
Try Not to Judge
Don’t be so quick to judge your emotions or the emotions of others, especially when they are negative emotions. There is usually a reason behind those negative emotions, and once you explore that, you can have a better chance at reframing towards a positive emotion. Emotions will come and go and the better you can ride them out the more you can understand what to do when those feelings come back.
Relate to Other Situations
Try to connect your emotions to other situations where you have felt the same way. If you stop and examine the emotion you currently feel and try to find different times in your life that you have felt that way, you might be better equipped to handle the situation. If before you reacted in anger, you can realize that wasn’t helpful and choose a different path in your current position.
Look for Internal Cues
Your body usually tells you more than you give it credit. If you always feel a pit in your stomach as you head into the office, that might indicate your job is a source of stress. Butterflies in your stomach as you talk to someone new might show that you have found a companion. These internal cues are connected to your emotions and the more you can recognize that the more self-aware you become.
Start Each Day with A Question
Ask yourself each morning, “How do I feel?” It might seem silly at first, but it makes you pause and examine your emotions. If you do this once in the morning and then check in occasionally throughout the day, you can begin to see how certain people or situations change your emotions. This gives you more information about your emotions and better tools to handle what comes your way.
Write it Down
Journaling is a beneficial tool. Not only does it get everything out of your head down on to paper, but it also provides a log of sorts for past emotions and situations. You can easily look back to how you were feeling in specific instances and how you reacted. Those previous occurrences can help shape your future actions and make self-regulation easier.
The most important thing to remember is that your emotional quotient is not a fixed state. You can influence and improve it over time. It takes a little hard work and dedication, but there is no doubt you can improve your emotional intelligence.
Netflix enthusiast, horrible speller, jiujitsu hobbyist, weekend drinker, and occasional poker player. Favorite quote is “[o]ut of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”