How Real Is Emotional Intelligence
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Recent research suggests that emotional intelligence (EI) is a more important predictor of workplace success than IQ. Companies are investing in training to enhance employees’ EIs, but what does the science say about whether this changes anything?
The term “emotional intelligence” was first used in 1992 by Daniel Goleman in his best-selling book The New Psychology of Success. Since then, it has become one of the most popular concepts in psychology.
But how well do we really understand emotional intelligence as an ability? And is it even possible to improve your EQ skills beyond a certain level?
In this article, we will look at the evidence for the claim that people with higher levels of emotional intelligence perform better at work and go beyond their own limitations. We will also consider why some people may believe this isn’t true.
We will follow the same rules when looking at studies – if there is no control group, the results aren’t very meaningful. If the study doesn’t use a longitudinal design (to see repeated measurements over time), the findings don’t tell us much about cause and effect. And if the measures of emotional intelligence weren’t clearly defined, the conclusions can’t be trusted.
So what should you take away from this article? First, yes, you can increase your emotional intelligence to a small degree through formal education or self-help strategies.
Factors that affect our emotional intelligence
One of the biggest factors that can influence how well you manage your emotions is your personality. What people call ‘personality’ is actually called psychological make-up or, more simply, character. It’s what you feel like inside – your internal state — which includes things such as your beliefs, attitudes and values.
Your personality also includes how you talk to yourself (we all do it!), how you think about other people and whether you are trustworthy. These are all part of having adequate emotional intelligence.
Some experts believe there is no such thing as normal personality development. Because individuals are different, we each grow in our own individual way. Some may be happier than before, while others may need some help reining in their emotions.
However, anyone can learn to control their own emotions and achieve this takes practice. You will find it helpful to recognize when youare experiencing an intense emotion and teach yourself to relax.
It can be difficult at times, but if you want to live with consistency and efficiency, you must work on your emotional skills.
Downsides of emotional intelligence
Unfortunately, some researchers have found that high levels of EI are not necessarily good for you. Some studies suggest that having higher than average EI can make things like bullying easier and social exclusion more likely.
In fact, there is even some research to show that being very emotionally intelligent (“emotionally strong”) may be linked to engaging in violence.
This could mean that someone with high EI actually encourages harmful behavior by giving people permission to act aggressively. Or it could indicate that these individuals are too willing to accept bad behaviors from others so they don't feel much empathy.
Furthermore, although earlier theories suggested that women needed to be smart about emotions to succeed, newer research suggests that men and women who experience emotions similarly are happier than those who do not.
Benefits of emotional intelligence
Over the past few decades, there have been many reports outlining the benefits that having high levels of emotional quotient (EQ) can bring. These include improved academic performance, job success, healthier relationships, and more.
While it is true that being able to relate to others and show empathy comes in handy, what most people don’t realize is that EQ isn’t just about other people.
In fact, it goes much deeper than that.
Emotional intelligence includes understanding your own emotions and how you feel about things. This includes feeling positive or negative feelings towards yourself as well as other individuals.
It also means recognizing your own strengths and weaknesses, and learning how to use them productively. You will find that once you learn this skill, you’ll be less likely to make decisions that are not based on strength but rather on weakness.
There was a time when I would tell myself that I didn’t understand why my personal life had broken down and then I’d try to figure out what caused those break downs by thinking about all the times before where something like this happened.
I wouldn’t think about what I could have done differently because surely if I were smarter then I would have figured out earlier that everything was bad and I should quit!
This process only made me worse since I kept looking for answers that didn’t exist and ended up hurting me even more.
Ways to improve our emotional intelligence
Recent studies show that being able to read other people’s emotions is an important skill for achieving success in life. Being aware of what others around you are feeling can help you accomplish your goals, and reduce conflict between you and them.
Research shows that having strong social skills like empathy helps us achieve several things including more happiness, better relationships, and lower stress levels.
Social skills include understanding how different feelings work, knowing what behaviors are seen as acceptable in certain situations, and being able to recognize and manage your own emotions.
It may seem like something very basic, but mastering social skills takes practice. And there’s no single “way to do it.”
That’s why it's helpful to understand that anyone can develop their social skills, even if they’re not yet at the level of someone who has mastered them. It’s also okay to make mistakes, and there are many strategies and techniques to learn from others.
A few years ago, there was a lot of talk about “emotional intelligence”. People who were described as having high emotional intelligence were said to be more aware of their emotions and how they affect others. They are also thought to use these feelings better by focusing less on what you want or don’t want and instead using your skills to work on understanding the people around you.
Many experts now say that this idea is misguided because it presupposes that we have control over our own emotions.
We all experience emotion from time to time but no one has absolute control over their emotions. This can make it hard to understand the importance of certain emotions in other people’s lives.
By avoiding being close to someone else’s emotions, you may not learn anything important about them. You could even hurt their trust in you by thinking you had control when really you didn’t.
Speak with experts
While there are many theories about what makes someone have high emotional intelligence, you will not find anyone that truly defines it. That is because people’s perceptions of this quality change over time.
Some say self-awareness is the key to knowing how other people feel, while others believe empathy is more important than knowledge of yourself. Some theorists even suggest that having strong emotions is a sign of low EQ.
So, whether or not you agree with their definitions, you should still evaluate if your own perception of emotional intelligence has changed due to changes in the field.
And don’t just look at books; watch some videos as well. You can also read different descriptions and studies to get an idea of what the average person thinks about EI.
Emotional intelligence is a very complex concept, which is another reason why it varies so much depending on who you ask. But for our purposes here, we can assume that most people think that being aware of your own feelings is a major part of having higher levels of emotional intelligence.
This article will talk about some ways that you can improve your emotional intelligence.
Connect with your feelings
A lot of people believe that emotional intelligence (or “EI”) is something you are either born with or not, like hair color. Some even think it can be learned through courses or training. It isn’t one of these things.
Emotional intelligence isn’t about having emotions — we all have them to some degree. It’s about how well you use your own thoughts and feelings to understand and manage others’ behaviors, and what other people do emotionally for you to determine their importance in your life.
Thinking about yourself as an intelligent person makes sense, but thinking about yourself as an intelligent person who controls his or her emotions doesn’t make much sense.
That wouldn’t seem very productive, would it? So most people don’t try to teach themselves this way.
Instead, they try to focus on being rational and dispassionate when dealing with situations, which can help mitigate negative effects of poor EI. But ignoring your own internal processes won’t actually improve them.
You will always have thoughts and feelings- you will never not have them. And if you want to become more aware of yours and those of other people, then you need to work on it.
There are several reasons why developing your emotional intelligence is important, beyond just making you feel better.
Look on the bright side
Many people believe that being smart is enough to succeed in life. This perception leaves out one important factor: emotional intelligence (EI).
Not only is it not enough, but research shows that having low levels of EI can actually be detrimental to success.
In fact, there are some studies suggesting that being very emotionally intelligent could be a reason why some people fail to succeed because they lack motivation or cannot handle stress. [Link to study]
So how do we know if someone has high levels of EI? There are several tests you can take online or through companies that offer services and exams for this.
We also have theories about what qualities make up “high” EI, so you can determine whether or not your own skills match up.