What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why Does It Matter?

Have you heard of “emotional intelligence,” or EI for short? It’s a hot topic these days, and with good reason.  So, what exactly is emotional intelligence?

It has a lot to do with self-awareness. For some people, self-awareness comes naturally, for others it may take some practice. Wherever you’re starting from, you can always improve and become more aware of the emotions you’re experiencing, why they’re coming up, and how you’re showing up to the world.

The important thing here is to be an impartial observer. You don’t need to judge your feelings, just watch them arise. According to Daniel Goleman, author of the book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, EI is made up of 4 different aspects.

Check out the infographic below to learn more about EI.

If you read the infographic above, you now know all about emotional intelligence. But let’s dig a little deeper, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How quickly do I shift to a positive state after something challenging happens to me? 
  • Do I relate to people on a deep level or do I keep things on the surface?
  • Do I tune-in to how someone feels during our conversation?

These are all aspects of your EI. Can you see how those things can be helpful in your job and your relationships?

Curious About Your Own Emotional Intelligence?

TAKE THE SENSE OF SELF QUIZ

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Emotional intelligence has to do with your self-awareness and ability to manage your emotions while helping others manage theirs.

When you bring awareness to them and can see the full picture, you’ll then be able to handle the emotions that you’re feeling. Everyone has different strengths and specialties, but generally, awareness is necessary before you can excel at handling emotions, either for yourself or others.

Wherever your EI/EQ is right now, realize that it’s a skill you can always improve on . . . and with practice, you can master the art of relating.

ACTION STEPS TO IMPROVE SELF-AWARENESS 

Next time you notice yourself in a negative state (or a positive one), stop whatever you’re doing and just observe. Why do you feel this way? What’s the root cause of your emotion? Notice what you notice.

Once again, it’s crucial that you don’t judge your feelings as they come up. Simply notice them, and let them float on by like a cloud in the sky.

The ability to manage your emotions.

  • Not being triggered by other people’s actions or things that happen to you
  • Not wasting time moping or pouting when you could be getting things done
  • Not being bogged down by negative emotions that keep you from being productive

emotional intelligence

ACTION STEPS TO IMPROVE EMOTIONAL STABILITY

The next time you feel yourself slip into a bad emotional state, be aware and continue watching in an unbiased manner. Ask yourself questions, like: “Why am I feeling this way? Is this helping my situation or making it worse?”

Another powerful question that can help you shift is this: “Will this issue matter on my deathbed?” Although it seems extreme, remember: it’s easier to deal with your emotions when you’re committed to the big picture.

If you don’t want to go to the gym, but you’re extremely committed to being fit, you’ll get it done. Try to step outside of yourself, and pull your awareness outside of your current emotional state.

Schools don’t teach it yet, but emotional intelligence is one of the most important things we can teach our children and the rest of society. It goes hand in hand with having a strong Sense of Self.

High EQs leads to better grades, healthy relationships, strong bonds with other people, good decision-making, a higher life expectancy . . . the list goes on and on. Developing emotional intelligence and self-awareness at a young age instills healthy self-esteem and the motivation to live an authentic life.

People living as their authentic selves have a type of motivation that is ordinary, simple, and based in the present. They have Direct Motivation, which is an indicator that the person is driven to do or avoid things in a normal, healthy way. Their incentive is pure, simple, direct, and without any Hidden Agendas.

This type of motivation is geared toward the content of the behavior: You wash the dishes to get the dishes clean, not to impress your mother in order to fulfill some requirement based on strategies your inner child is operating from to get approval. (Compare Direct Motivation with Indirect Motivation.)

Antoinetta Vogels has an entire book, The Motivation Cure: The Secret to Being Your Best Self, on the subject of motivation that explores this concept further.

Be aware of other people’s emotions.

Again, this will come intuitively to some. For others, it will take practice. There are cues you can look for to ascertain how someone is feeling during an interaction. If you use these tools, you’ll be able to relate to people in a deeper, more meaningful way.

ACTION STEPS TO IMPROVE YOUR AWARENESS OF OTHERS

Next time you’re interacting with someone, pay attention to their body language. Does the person have their arms and legs folded? Are they making eye contact? Are they slouching or sitting up straight? Look into their eyes and notice what you feel intuitive when you do. How is their tone?

What is the subtext of the words that they’re saying? Make guesses as to how people are feeling, then ask them and see if your answers match up. With practice, you’ll start to notice the subtle signs.

The ability to manage and handle other’s emotions.

This last aspect of emotional intelligence is a powerful one. Have you ever seen someone who was a master salesperson? They probably had a strong ability to excite someone about a product or turn their frustration into something with a simple solution. That’s an example of someone who has developed a mastery of this skill.

ACTION STEPS TO IMPROVE YOUR ABILITY TO MANAGE THE EMOTIONS OF OTHERS

Next time you’re with someone who seems like they’re sad, or angry, practice seeing them in a positive state and treat them as if they were already in one. Without being patronizing, or pretending the situation is different than it is, find a way to remind the person (gently) of how wonderful their life is, or how grateful you are that they’re in your life.

Generally speaking, a real, authentic, positive attitude is contagious. The key here is to stay in your positive state and make sure you don’t succumb to their negativity. This is a challenging part of expanding your emotional intelligence, so don’t get discouraged. As long as you focus on leading by example, you’re helping others to make better choices as well.

emotional intelligence

Before you’re able to implement Daniel Goleman’s valuable advice successfully, you need to be in touch with your authentic Self, your true and natural Sense of Self.

Any addiction to approval will keep you from moving forward to a healthy, happy relationship with yourself and others. If you’re still living on autopilot, it’s likely the next point won’t come easily to you. So take a moment to assess if you’re aware and living as your true Self in this moment.

The next point is to identify the difference between IQ and EQ, which is essentially the difference between listening to your heart and listening to your logical mind. They’re both important in different ways.

While a high IQ helps you problem solve and use reason, your EQ will help you relate to yourself and to others in a deep, sincere, and fruitful way. We leave you with this great quote from Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ:

 

Albert Bandura, a Stanford psychologist who has done much of the research on self-efficacy, sums it up well: ‘People’s beliefs about their abilities have a profound effect on those abilities. Ability is not a fixed property; there is a huge variability in how you perform. People who have a sense of self . . . bounce back from failures; they approach things in terms of how to handle them rather than worrying about what can go wrong.’

12 Comments

  1. Lynette Cardona on May 8, 2018 at 11:08 am

    Emotional Intelligence start since conception. Continues with putting your baby on his stomach since the beginning so he can move to connect neurons.

  2. Caroline Bateman Sudhoff on May 10, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    Teaching and developing EI starts the minute your child begins to watch you and progresses with simple games helping them to label the emotion. Great article!

  3. Denise Kinsley on May 11, 2018 at 11:31 am

    Improving your emotional intelligence can lead to a restored Sense of Self. The two go hand-in-hand.

    Or are they one in the same?!

  4. Luis on June 20, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Did you have the philosophers Plato and Aristotle philosophers on your mind when you wrote this article?

  5. Christa on June 23, 2018 at 11:47 am

    Love the infographic! This makes understanding EI so much easier. Thank you! :)

  6. Violeta Novak on June 27, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    This is awesome! Thanks for making EI easy to grasp. I’ll definitely take some of the action steps listed in the article.

  7. L.A. on June 27, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Very helpful information. Let’s me know where I’m at as far as my mental health goes. Thank you

    • Antoinetta Vogels on October 3, 2018 at 4:55 am

      To L.A who has not showered in a while…
      I am the author of the SoS Method and the course. I would love to know how you are doing and if there is anything we can work on together to help you realize the improvements in your quality of life you hoped to achieve by taking this course. it has been a few months I know. But if you are interested I am here for you. Just let me know by replying to this message, OK?

  8. Nadine Price on July 17, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    I’ve always wondered about how to be more self-aware and what that means. I understand now that emotions are going to happen regardless, but by being aware of them it’s easier to manage them. I need to practice!

    • Antoinetta Vogels on October 3, 2018 at 4:51 am

      Dear Nadine,
      Allow me to reply on your comment. I am the author of the SoS Method and Course and I have been away from my computer for a month or so to finally break with “working all the time.” Unfortunately I missed your comment and would like to know if you are interested to follow up with this discussion. I am hoping to learn more about you, how far you have come in the course and help you get back on track or otherwise clarify some things for you that would help you realize those improvements in the quality of your life that made you take the course in the first place. Let me know how I can be of service here.

  9. Akari Kimura on August 29, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    I will check out the books mentioned in this article. Thanks for sharing and a great infographic too!

    • Antoinetta Vogels on October 3, 2018 at 4:42 am

      Dear Akari,
      Some time has passed since you wrote your comment and I am wondering how you are doing with the course. I know we all have so much to do and are interested in so many things but there must have been a dominant reason for you to start this course.
      I am the author of the course and after 10 years of hard work I finally took a vacation, which is why i haven’t gotten back to you. I had to do it since life wants to be lived, right?
      But I am highly interested in how you are doing and happy to give you support if you were interested in getting that.
      Our psychological and emotional condition is one that is not visible and all we can do is guess what is going on.
      This course though enables you to do a much more educated guess though and make you tackle the pain point that anywhere else easily stays hidden under layers of old habits.
      If you have stopped taking the course because it is not easy – please let me know. I will put you back on track if you so wish. let me know how you are doing and how we can help you find the improvement of your quality of life you were looking for in the first place.

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