What Does Emotional Intelligence Mean?

You’ve probably heard of “book smarts” and “street smarts,” but what about emotional smarts? The technical term for this is emotional intelligence. It relates to your ability to understand your emotions and empathize with the emotions of others. In this guide, we’ll explain what emotional intelligence means and how you can improve your emotional intelligence moving forward.

The Definition of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence may also be referred to as emotional quotient (EQ). If intelligence is a measure of how well you understand the world, emotional intelligence is how well you understand feelings. EQ can be broken up into four categories:

  • Self-awareness: Being able to identify what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way. Self-awareness also deals with self-confidence and the ability to distinguish your strengths from your weaknesses.
  • Relationship management: Being able to communicate effectively and maintain good relationships with others.
  • Social awareness: Being able to identify the emotional needs of others and empathize with them. This includes picking up on emotional cues and recognizing the concerns of others.
  • Self-management: Being able to control your emotions, take initiative, adapt to changes, and maintain your commitments.

How Emotional Intelligence Develops

For some people, emotional intelligence naturally develops with age and exposure to new people/situations. With this in mind, a person’s environment and upbringing can play a critical role in how their emotional intelligence develops. A child raised in a household where the parents lack emotional intelligence may struggle to understand their own emotions and others.

Some underlying conditions can also impact emotional intelligence, such as autism, bipolar disorder, or addiction. Personality types and lifestyle choices can further affect how someone’s EQ develops. Nevertheless, it is possible to improve your emotional intelligence, just like you can any other form of intelligence.

What Emotional Intelligence Could Do for Your Life

Having emotional intelligence can help you adapt better in changing situations. It can improve your communication skills and relationships with friends, family members, and significant others. Furthermore, having emotional intelligence can help you feel more in control of your emotions. You may not be able to change your initial reaction, but you can identify why you had it and how the situation makes you feel moving forward.

How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Improving your emotional intelligence ties back to the four categories: self-management, social awareness, self-awareness, and relationship management. You may naturally excel in a couple of those areas and need improvement in others. Or you may be a person who needs to work on all those components and let them build on one another.

Try these techniques to improve your emotional intelligence:

  • Reduce your stress and scale back when you feel overwhelmed. It’s difficult to understand your emotions or empathize with others when your mind is focused on stress. Take a mental health day to regroup, refocus, and reassess your true feelings.
  • Practice active listening. If you find yourself halfway listening to other people because you’re distracted by your phone or other activities, put those activities to the side. Actively engage with the person you’re talking to, and you’ll have an easier time picking up on their cues.
  • Write down your thought process after a stressful event. What did you feel in the moment, and what did that feeling stem from? If you had a poor reaction, what could you do to prevent a similar reaction in the future?
  • Recognize conflict before it escalates. If you feel like arguments in your relationship tend to spike rapidly, you may be missing the early warning signs. Start paying attention to changes in tone or body language. Monitor your own reactions and pause when you feel worked up. After a conflict, identify what triggered your reactions so that you can catch triggers in future discussions.
  • Work with a therapist to boost your emotional intelligence. You can get personalized tips on how to regulate emotions, recognize your feelings, understand other people’s feelings, and communicate effectively with your loved ones. CNLD Testing & Therapy offers mental health resources for people of all ages.

Contact us at (734) 994-9466 to schedule a therapy appointment or learn more about emotional intelligence counseling at CNLD Testing & Therapy.