Improving Emotional Intelligence

B.A.R.E necessities

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What exactly is EQ?

EQ stands for Emotional Quotient. It borrows from the term "Intelligence Quotient," and is often used interchangeably with "Emotional Intelligence." 

A simpler definition might be: Knowing what feels good, what feels bad, and how to get from bad to good. 
 

Why are emotions so important?

Our emotions are the way our bodies talk to us and tell us what they need to be healthy and happy. Our emotions also communicate messages to others. For example, when the anger in our faces says "STAY AWAY," - people usually do. On the other hand, when we smile, we communicate that it is safe to approach us. 


People with healthy emotional skills, or "high EQ" are happier, healthier, and more successful in their relationships. Such people show all of the following: 
 

  • A balance between emotion and reason 
  • An awareness of their own feelings 
  • Empathy and compassion for others 
  • Signs of high self-esteem 
     

What are the practical consequences of high and low EQ? 


Inadequately or unhealthily developed EQ or "low EQ" is likely to lead to general unhappiness as seen in the feelings of: 
 

​Loneliness ​Depression ​Resentment
​Fear ​Instability ​Anger
​Frustration ​Lethargy ​Dependence
​Guilt ​Disappointment ​Victimisation 
​Bitterness ​Obligation ​Failure                                   

High "EQ", on the other hand, is associated with feelings of general happiness as evidenced by: 

​Motivation ​Awareness ​Contentment                        
​Friendship ​Balance ​Appreciation
​Focus ​Self-control ​Connection
​Fulfilment ​Freedom ​Desire
​Peace of Mind ​Autonomy ​Success


 

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The B.A.R.E necessities

Balance, Awareness, Responsibility, Empathy 


The main principles of Emotional Intelligence can be conveniently remembered using the acronym of BARE, for Balance, Awareness, Responsibility, and Empathy. Let's take a look at each of these. 

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Balance

First and foremost...

Since the days of Aristotle, philosophers have spoken of the virtues of balance. In ancient times, however, emotional issues were thought to involve the heart. We now know that our emotional history is stored in our lower brains. For example, the lower brain remembers the times we were scared by someone shouting at us, the times we felt disapproved of by people important to us, and the times we were filled with delight. Our upper brain is our rational brain which conceptualizes, analyzes and judges. It evaluates situations, and assesses the risks and rewards. A major principle of EQ theory is that those with high EQ are able to balance the functions of the two brains as they communicate with each other. Now let's look at four specific practical examples of maintaining balance between our emotions and our reason: 

  • Cognitive distortions
  • Impulse control 
  • Delaying gratification 
  • Emotional detachment 

1. Cognitive Distortions 
 

Research has confirmed what has long been suspected: emotions have the ability to distort our vision of reality. At such times we are making what have been called "cognitive distortions" since our thoughts, or our cognitions, are being clouded by our feelings. When this happens we are thrown off balance from reality. 


2. Impulse Control 


Many authors say that the ability to control your impulses is a sign of high EQ. 


3. Delaying Gratification 


Delaying gratification shows maturity and restraint Balancing emotion and reason also leads to the ability to delay gratification when it is in our best interest. 


4. Emotional Detachment and Connection


If we are not connected to our feelings, we have nothing against which to balance our reason. 

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AWARENESS

Without awareness of our feelings and what causes them, it is impossible to lead a happy life. We need to:

  • Acknowledge Our Feelings 
  • Identify Specific Feelings 
  • We also need to consider Timing. 
     

A high EQ person is aware of her feelings in "real time." In other words, she acknowledges her feelings as she is feeling them. 


An extremely important skill deriving from emotional awareness is the ability to forecast our emotions. We do this by pausing to consider how we will feel if we choose one course of action as opposed to another. 

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RESPONSIBILITY

The most empowering decision we can make is to take responsibility for our feelings and responsibility for our thoughts and actions 

We act responsibly when we: 

Do no harm to ourselves or others. 
Take responsibility for our values, beliefs, and thoughts. 
Take responsibility for our own emotions. 
Take responsibility for our own happiness. 
Do not blame others for our unhappiness. 
Set boundaries. 
Validate our emotions & the emotions of others. 
Communicate our feelings honestly. 

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EMPATHY

To show empathy is to identify with another's feelings. It is to emotionally put yourself in the place of another. 

The ability to empathize is directly dependent on your ability to both feel your own feelings and identify them. 

If you have never felt a certain feeling, it will be hard for you to understand how another person is feeling. What is then important is:

  • Awareness & Acknowledgment 
  • Sensitivity 
  • Compassion and Understanding 

 
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In short, the ways in which you can increase your emotional intelligence are:

  1. Utilize an assertive style of communicating. ...
  2. Respond instead of reacting to conflict. ...
  3. Utilize active listening skills. ...
  4. Be motivated. ...
  5. Practice ways to maintain a positive attitude. ...
  6. Practice self-awareness. ...
  7. Take critique well. ...
  8. Empathize with others.