Psychologists Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer first coined the term ’emotional intelligence’ in 1990, describing it as a combination of social intelligence (that involves the ability to understand the intentions, motivations, and desires of other people), and intrapersonal intelligence (the ability to be aware of one’s own feelings, fears, and motivations). According to Scott Trefny, a rehabilitation specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division in White Plains, “Since the 1990s, emotional intelligence has made the journey from a semi-obscure concept found in academic journals to a popularly recognized term.”
Emotional intelligence differs from a person’s cognitive intelligence, which is measured by an IQ test. A person’s IQ relates directly to intellectual pursuits, such as the ability to learn as well as understand and apply information to skill sets. It covers logical reasoning, word comprehension, and math skills. “On the other hand,” explains Trefny, “emotional intelligence involves learning social skills, being mindful of our own feelings, and the emotional state of others as well. It also addresses such traits as initiative, empathy, adaptability, persuasiveness — none of which are measured on a traditional IQ test.”
So how does one become emotionally intelligent? As is the case with most things, it’s a combination of nature and nurture. People can be born with certain levels of sensitivity, anxiety, or empathy. However, EI can be enhanced or managed through learning skills.
The ‘Four Pillars’
The science of EI is based upon four fundamental pillars that represent specific capacities or skills:
Initiative: Willingness to take a close look at one’s emotional responses, as well as taking responsibility for one’s behavioural responses/outcomes.
Adaptability: For every situation there are different variables. The person who tells himself that “We can find a way,” will almost always outperform the person who responds by saying “There is no other way to look at this situation.”
Empathy: The ability to see things from another person’s perspective and to take into account their individual thoughts and feelings about an experience.
Mindfulness: The ability to pay attention to one’s own thoughts and feelings in the present moment without judging them. Read more about mindfulness here
Having a high emotional intelligence level has its benefits. Says Trefny, “It helps individuals to foster positive relationships, communicate better, reduce anxiety and stress, defuse conflicts, empathize with others, and effectively overcome life’s challenges.” Having a high EI is usually linked to high performance in a variety of areas— such as work, school, exercise, activities and games — which makes it worth developing.
How to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence:-
- Limit the negative
When you feel adversely about someone’s behaviour, avoid jumping to a negative conclusion right away. Instead, come up with multiple ways of viewing the situation before reacting. It will help to reduce your stress level, and gain insight into the situation. Our perceptions can limit us; Read here to learn how our perceptions affects our emotions and/or actions.
- Keep your cool
The best way to combat life’s stressors is to energize yourself. Exercise will boost your confidence to deal with those stressors in a more productive way.
- Learn to say “no” without guilt
The key is learning how to be assertive and express difficult emotions when necessary. Avoid using sentences that begin with “you,” followed by accusation or judgment. “You” language followed by such directives puts the listener on the defensive, and makes him or her less likely to be open to what you have to say. Effective communication gives each person the safety to be seen and heard whilst voicing frustrations.
- Think before you talk
When you feel angry with someone, before you say something you might later regret, take a deep breath and count slowly to ten. Another way to reduce reactions is to try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, to help gain perspective on what he or she is thinking. Learn about the benefits of controlled breathing here
- Practice resilience
With every challenging situation, ask questions such as “What is the lesson here?” “How can I learn from this experience?” “What is most important now?” Ask constructive questions and you’ll gain the proper perspective to help tackle the situation at hand. Employing the services of a Life Coach will assist a person to evaluate such questions.
Further Reading : Emotional Intelligence: Key Readings on the Mayer and Salovey Model