When thinking of intelligence, most individuals tend to picture something like IQ. While IQ can tell you a great deal about your ability to problem solve through learning, application, and logic, it does not paint a very accurate picture of your ability to succeed in complicated life circumstances. That’s where emotional intelligence comes in.
Simply put, emotional intelligence is your ability to understand and influence emotions, both in yourself and in others. It is a measurement of awareness. Numerous studies show that emotional intelligence is directly linked to strong performance. Thankfully, emotional intelligence can be learned (unlike IQ). Certain individuals may be more naturally predisposed to high levels of emotional intelligence, but you can always work towards improving.
Below are five questions you can ask yourself to gauge your own emotional intelligence:
How aware are you of emotions, from yourself or others, on a daily basis?
Typically, people with emotional intelligence are not only aware of their own emotions but also the emotions of others. Emotions are projected through both verbal and non-verbal signals. An emotionally intelligent person can often sense emotions right away when entering a room. This does not require any verbal contact at all; someone’s facial expression or body language alone can communicate a great deal.
In conversation, emotionally intelligent people usually put themselves in someone else’s shoes, connecting with the other person on an empathetic level. Usually, emotionally intelligent people can relate to people and can feel what they are feeling.
Emotional intelligent people are curious about everyone around them. They are not always so concerned with themselves, but also with the emotional health of those around them. Because people with high emotional intelligence are so socially aware they tend to be good judges of character and can read others well.
Listening to others and paying attention to others is a part of being an emotionally intelligent person. When you listen to others, do you tune them out or are you genuinely interested in how they feel? If you are interested and empathize with them, you may have high emotional intelligence.
Do you have the ability to manage your own emotions?
Take a moment to think about difficult moments you have had in your life. How did you react?
Emotionally intelligent individuals do not typically wear their emotions on their sleeves. Though they may feel emotions strongly, they understand how their attitude impacts others. Throughout the day a host of negative emotions arise. Anger, jealousy, and irritation are things emotionally intelligent people actively seek to identify in order to resolve the core of the issue.
Part of managing your emotions means you are able to let things go. This means letting go of your mistakes and not dwelling on them. Learn from your mistakes and don’t let them ruin your outlook on life.
Every day we experience an array of emotions. The way we handle emotions and show them through our attitude and body language is what makes the difference between being and not being emotionally intelligent.
Are you able to use your emotions in a constructive way?
Emotions are a good thing. They are protective and allow us to make sense of our lives. However, sometimes emotions can be destructive. Simply put, emotionally intelligent people don’t let emotions become a negative factor in their lives. Reflect on the impact your emotions make on your life. If you struggle to identify positive outcomes from emotional situations, this can signal issues.
Emotionally intelligent individuals also recognize when they are having negative self-talk and stop themselves from continuing to talk negatively. Instead, they will think and speak positively. This is because negative self-talk changes our brain chemistry and affects how we handle our emotions.
Handling your emotions effectively is the best way to grow emotional intelligence. Making sure we manage our emotions in a constructive manner. Know what our strengths and weaknesses are. Be able to talk about emotions while also considering the emotions of those around us.
Do you do well under pressure?
Our lives are not perfect; there are many bumps in the road along the way. Another key to emotional intelligence is staying in control under pressure when everything seems to be falling apart. For example, if a stressful situation occurs at work, how do you react? Emotionally intelligent people are aware that remaining calm in those instances is crucial both for your professional and emotional well-being. Think about a time when something was stressful and how you handled it. Then think about what you could have done better to improve your emotional intelligence.
Change is an inevitable part of life. When we become flexible and can adapt to change, our emotions are not as extreme. Being able to handle change is a good indicator that you also do well under pressure.
Are you honest with yourself?
Emotionally intelligent people take time to reflect. They think critically about life circumstances and occurrences. They enjoy “quiet time” and reflection. It is hard to turn off our cell phones or televisions and ask ourselves hard questions, but the payoff is invaluable.
Emotionally intelligent people also know how to say “no” to both themselves and to others. No is a powerful word that many people are afraid of. Being able to say no shows a sense of self-control that yields people from making impulsive decisions and are better able to handle their emotions.
Grow your emotional intelligence
How does your emotional intelligence compare? Here are 4 tips to grow your emotional intelligence.
This blog was originally published on March 21, 2016. It has been updated to reflect current information.