Emotional intelligence: Boosting Your Emotional Quotient (EQ)
Emotional Quotient (EQ) refers to the capacity of an individual to understand others, what drives them, what makes them tick, and how they can work in liaison with them.
In this article we explore the historical development and categories of emotional quotient, its importance, as well as the ways in which anyone can boost their EQ.
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF EMOTIONAL QUOTIENT
Daniel Goleman published his first book in 1995 and ever since Emotional Quotient (EQ) has become one of the most discussed topics in the corporate world. The term ‘Emotional Quotient’ is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘Emotional Intelligence’.
It has become a widely accepted opinion that Emotional Quotient (EQ) is much more important than actual intelligence (IQ) when it comes to securing success in one’s life or career.
In our different professions today, especially in the business world, success is highly determined by one’s ability to read people’s cues and react in an appropriate manner towards them.
For this reason, we must reinforce mature Emotional Quotient skills in order to understand, negotiate, and empathize with other people especially in a time when the world is expanding into a global economy containing diverse people with diverse backgrounds. Failure to comply with these changing times implies an invitation of failure not only in our business endeavors but also in our personal lives.
CATEGORIES OF EMOTIONAL QUOTIENT (EQ)
There are five main categories of EQ skills that have been acknowledged by researchers and scholars alike. These are as illustrated below.
The very first category is Self-Awareness. Self awareness is the ability to accurately perceive an emotion as it is happening in real time. The development of self awareness demands that an individual deeply tunes into their own feelings. Once a person truly and accurately evaluates their emotions they are in a position to manage them.
As such, the elements of self awareness are:
- Emotional Awareness, which is one’s ability to recognize their own emotions as well as the effects of those emotions.
- Self Confidence, which is the sureness in one’s own self worth and abilities.
The second category in EQ skills is Self-Regulation. It is agreeable that as human beings, we have little control of when we experience which emotions and how. It is, however, possible for an individual to determine how long they let an emotion last by implementing a number of approaches to diminish negative emotions such as anger, depression, and anxiety. Some of these approaches may entail activities such as meditating, envisioning the situation in positive light as opposed to a negative one, taking walks, and even praying.
Like self awareness, self regulation has several elements:
- Self Control, which is the proper managing of disruptive compulsions.
- Trustworthiness, which is the art of maintaining a high standard of integrity within oneself despite the adverse situation at hand.
- Conscientiousness is an additional element of self regulation which entails taking total responsibility for one’s actions and reactions.
- Adaptability, which implies one’s ability to be flexible; and finally there is Innovation, which is being open to new ideas and approaches.
The third category in EQ skills is Motivation. The ability to motivate oneself for the achievement of any particular goals while maintaining a positive attitude is an important aspect of mastering Emotional Quotient. Although different individuals naturally vary in their propensity towards a positive or negative attitude, one can, with effort, condition their mind to adopt a positive predisposition. This is made possible by habitually catching negative thoughts as they materialize and reframing them more positively, which ultimately helps one achieve their goal.
Motivation has the following elements:
- Drive for Achievement, which is an individual’s consistent propulsion towards excellence.
- Commitment is the second element and refers to one’s devotion to their goals or cause or those of the business or organization.
- Initiative, which is the individual’s preparedness to act in the face of an opportunity.
- Optimism that pushes one to remain persistent despite facing hurdles or setbacks.
Empathy is the fourth EQ skills category and it entails the ability to recognize how people feel. Empathy is a quality that is not only important in business, but in life as well. It is only logical that the more skillful a person is at discerning other’s feelings, the more skillful they will be at controlling the kind of signals that they send back.
Empathetic individuals often display excellent performance in the following things:
- Service Orientation in terms of anticipating the client’s needs and meeting them promptly.
- Inspiring Others, which comes as a result of recognizing people’s weak points and, hence, reinforcing their abilities and inspiring growth.
- Political Awareness, which refers to reading emotional cues in group settings and how to make a connection and establish relationships.
The fifth category skill necessary for mastering EQ is People Skills. Great interpersonal skills are directly proportional to success in business and beyond. In the world we live in, where people are in constant connection and communication, it has become even more important to posses people skills and EQ skills as a whole in order to be in a position to understand, negotiate, and empathize with others people in the global economy. Some the most important people skills are influencing others, communication expertise, leadership, team playing, cooperation and collaboration among peers, conflict management abilities, among others.
IMPORTANCE OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
It is not the smartest individuals that are the most successful or fulfilled in life. I am sure you can think of one person who is academically brilliant but almost completely handicapped socially, unsuccessful career-wise, or failing in personal relationships. Intelligence (IQ) alone is inadequate in establishing a successful life. Undeniably, IQ will earn you impressive credits and get you into the best schools, but emotional quotient helps you manage stress and emotions during demanding exam periods. Without EQ, IQ might fall to waste and end up being nullified. EQ is important for several reasons described as follows.
First and foremost, mastering emotional quotient is important for Work Performance. EQ is what enables an individual to maneuver through various social complexities at the workplace; lead, inspire, influence, motivate peers, and ultimately succeed in one’s career. As a matter of fact, most business and companies these days emphasize more on the EQ of their employees than their IQ.
Emotional Quotient is also important for one’s Physical Wellbeing. If an individual is not being able to manage their emotions, they are in all probability doing an equally bad job at managing their stress levels too, which can manifest in the form of serious health issues. Uncontrolled stress levels have been known to raise blood pressure, repress the immune system, increase heart attack and stroke risk, catalyze infertility, as well as speed up ones ageing.
EQ is also important in keeping a healthy balance in one’s Mental Health. Unmanaged stress levels also have a grave and adverse impact on ones mental health, making them vulnerable to anger, depression, and anxiety. If a person is unable to understand, find comfort, and manage their emotions, the they will often find that they are incapable of forming strong bonds with others, which can leave them feeling isolated; leading us to the next point.
Relationships. Relationships are a fundamental and unavoidable aspect of every sector of our lives. EQ is important for the healthy development and growth of healthy relationships. This is because understanding one’s emotions and how they can be controlled makes an individual better at expressing how they feel as well as understanding how others feel. This paves way for an avenue of open and effective communication that forges strong relationships, not only at work but in one’s personal life.
Watch this great talk on how good leaders become great using emotional intelligence.
BOOSTING YOUR EMOTIONAL QUOTIENT
There are several measures that have been proven to improve one’s Emotional Quotient once adhered to. These measures are:
Reduction of Negative Emotions
This is perhaps the most important aspect of EQ. This is because it is paramount that one be in control of their emotions in order to ensure that they do not affect their judgment. In order for an individual to be in a position to change how they feel about a certain situation, they must first be able to change how they think about it.
Reduction of negative emotions begins with the Reduction of Negative Embodiments. This refers to situations where one feels adversely towards another person or their actions. In such a situation, it is important to avoid negative conclusions in your mind as much as possible. Rather, practice the art of viewing a situation through multiple dimensions prior to reacting to it.
For example, it may be tempting to conclude that a certain colleague failed to return my phone call because they are ignoring me but it would be better to conclude that they are caught up and they will phone back whenever they can. When one avoids taking other people’s actions personally, they are able to look at those actions from an objective point of view. Note that people’s actions are inspired by their own selves more than they are by us; this perception widens your perspective and reduces the possibility and occurrence of misunderstandings.
Additionally, Reducing Fear of Rejection drives away negative emotions and boosts your EQ. One sure way to reduce fear of rejection is by availing multiple options for yourself in crucial situations. This is to ensure that no matter what the outcome may be, there are equally strong options at your disposal. This will eliminate any negative emotions such as anxiety or depression.
For example, if you are applying for a dream job, apply in numerous different organizations; therefore, if one does not work out, the other options may still be open to you, hence relieving you of a lot of angst.
Staying Calm and Managing Stress
We all experience stress, be it at different levels. How you handle stressful scenarios is what determines whether you are an assertive or a reactive person; a poised or an unstable person. When under any kind of pressure, your most important asset is your ability to keep a level head.
EQ is the ability to stay calm while handling extremely stressful situations. There are various practices that can be employed to keep yourself calm, for example, avoiding caffeinated beverages that may heighten your nervousness; instead, maintaining a cool temperature around yourself may be far more effective in reducing one’s anxiety or nervousness.
In addition, exercise is a great stress reliever and helps reduce your physical tension, energizes you, keeps you collected, and enables you to deal with stressful situations in the calmest way possible; thereby boosting your EQ in the process.
Remaining Assertive and Expressing Difficult Emotions
As much as it is good to get along with the people we interact with, to develop healthy emotional quotient, you also need to be assertive and expressive and be able to set appropriate boundaries in order for people to understand where you stand in when you encounter one another.
This entails exercising your right to disagree without necessarily being disagreeable, or being able to say ‘no’ where appropriate without having to feel guilty. Boosting EQ demands that one set their own priorities and protecting oneself from any forms of duress or harm.
As an additional pointer; when being assertive, it is important to avoid framing statements in such a way that they come off as accusations or judgments because they automatically put the recipient on the defensive, which may result in an unnecessary altercation.
Each individual, no matter how socially inept, has at least one person that they have given they trust and who almost understands them as intimately as they understand themselves.
In scenarios that are stressful, and in situations where you feel overwhelmed by the pressure, it helps to reach out to that individual and ask for a perspective beyond your own; an objective perspective.
This activity will eventually train you to handle situations in an objective manner, hence boosting your emotional quotient even without your awareness.
Constantly trying to handle stressful situations on your own is not independence, it is limiting. It leads to a situation where you are never open to other approaches but your own; therefore, hampering any form of growth in your EQ. Often, all it takes is an external opinion to work through a scenario that is ongoing in your mind.
Bouncing Back from Adversity
Understand that life is not necessarily easy; at least not all the time, and how we choose to feel or act in response to life’s challenges can makes all the difference between optimism and frustration; hope and despair; victory and defeat. It is important that you look at every situation, especially the negative ones, as a learning experience. Ask yourself, “How can I do better?” “What have I Learnt?” In the immortal words of Thomas Edison, “I have not failed; I have found ten thousand ways that do not work.” Thomas A. Edison went on to invent the light bulb. Adopting this perception on life is one of the strongest ways to boost your EQ and go on to live a successful and fulfilling life.
Develop a Genuine Interest in the People around You
Another way to boost your emotional quotient is by learning to develop a genuine and keen interest in the people and the world around you.
For example, in a work environment you should not only strive to learn the names of everyone you interact with but reach out to them and strive to learn as much as possible about them. It is proven that there is a satisfaction or fulfillment that human beings draw from establishing meaningful connections and relationships with others.
Showing genuinely friendly interest in the lives of colleagues or associates is not only advantageous to you but to them too. When you reach out to people, they feel valued as human beings and not mere cogs in a machine.
The kind of fulfillment drawn from making such a connection or relationship, therefore, is experienced by two parties and can act as a stress reliever, drive away any feelings of anxiousness or depression, improve productivity, and ultimately boost EQ levels.
IN A NUTSHELL
Our ability to use reasonably soft skills and approaches in situations boosts our Emotional Quotient (EQ). In turn, this boost in EQ enables us to handle future situations in a better, healthier, and mature manner. EQ is a sense of internal balance that enables you to keep your composure, make the right decisions, and communicate successfully even when under stress. EQ is a major determinant of the quality of the life that you live as well as your likelihood for success in both your career and personal life. For this reason, it is imperative that you understand emotional quotient intimately as well as the various ways in which we can boost it constantly.
Emotional Quotient can be said to be the best predictor of performance in any workplace situation, the determinant of effective leadership, and individual excellence. When our EQ is effectively increased and applied, we realize our ability to cultivate more solid relationships both personally and in the business arena. Relationships, and more specifically their quality, are a colossal determinant of the success of any endeavor we delve in and the reality is; relationships cannot be avoided, there is no way around them. In order to ensure that we have the highest quality relationships and, therefore, the best shot at all-round success we need to constantly boost our Emotional Quotient.