According to many experts, having an enhanced capacity to understand one’s own emotions as well as those of others, is a pivotal determinant of success, even arguably more so than a high IQ. This skill is referred to as emotional intelligence (EQ).
What is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is an ability to tune in to your feelings, use logic to understand emotions, and then make the best decisions regarding how the emotions are influencing your behaviors. It also means understanding the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence can lead to many positive interactions and can help to improve social situations while at work, home, school, or anywhere you interact with others. Here are some of the key things you should know about emotional intelligence and its relevance.
So, What is Emotional Intelligence Really?
Introduced by Daniel Goleman in 1995, the concept of emotional intelligence is hailed by many as one of the most important skills that a person can possess. Those with a high emotional capacity can quickly solve problems when relating to others because they understand the deeper meanings of the emotions being displayed. For example, they are better at reading body language, like facial expressions, and they possess a heightened perception of what other people are feeling.
Consider this: what would the world be like if we could not interpret the feelings of our friends, family members, or coworkers? What if they were sad and needed our support or what if they were angry and needed someone to understand their frustrations? This is what emotional intelligence helps us to do—it helps us to understand other people’s feelings for improved relationships. What’s more is that emotional intelligence can be learned. This is an especially important point for parents to be aware of, since children with high emotional learning skills will one day become adults who rely on this skill to improve their daily interactions with others.
Understanding How Emotional Intelligence Works
Emotionally intelligent people recognize the various meanings that emotions convey. For instance, they understand that someone who is angry may need some time to cool down before they speak. They will also understand that someone who is happy will be more likely to want to participate in activities with others. Furthermore, they will also understand that someone who is sad may need some encouraging words to make them feel better.
Unfortunately, the opposite is true of those with little to no emotional intelligence skills. For example, if someone is angry, a person with low EQ may escalate the situation further and even put themselves and others in danger because they have made the person even more upset. In short, those with high EQ understand the consequences of not acknowledging other people’s emotions or taking the time to understand them further. EQ skills help to enhance communication between all parties since the person with a high EQ can negotiate a better experience for all involved. This makes them socially intelligent problem solvers.
Why Social Intelligence Matters for Kids
Emotional intelligence matters because it helps people better manage their own emotions, recognize the various meanings behind the feelings they are expressing, and also acknowledge these feelings in others. Children especially can benefit from these skills, and it has been shown that classroom issues from bullying to drug use can be improved when the children have a higher degree of emotional intelligence. Higher emotional intelligence in kids is also linked to more engagement in learning, better academic performance, and better critical thinking skills. Getting kids into social and emotional learning programs early in life gives them the emotional intelligence tools they need to succeed both in school and beyond.
Here are some qualities emotionally intelligent children will carry through life:
- Self-awareness – Emotionally intelligent kids have a high awareness of self. They can distinguish between their moods, feelings, and personal drives. Self-awareness allows them to assess themselves and place checks and balances on their feelings to improve interactions with others.
- Self-regulation – Since emotionally intelligent kids know what they are feeling they can also control these feelings for better outcomes with others. They choose to think before they act and speak and they can quickly embrace change which will help to improve their current circumstances.
- Empathy – Kids with high emotional intelligence are understanding and non-judgmental. They have the ability relate with how others may be feeling. This empathetic, caring nature of emotionally intelligent kisd helps them treat others with sensitivity, based on how the other child is feeling.
You may have asked yourself, “What is emotional intelligence?” While everyone experiences a wide array of emotions—from happiness, to sadness, to anger and every other feeling in between—there are still many people who cannot effectively manage the emotions they experience and encounter. Unfortunately, when emotions are not properly managed they can have negative consequences for everyone involved. Those who understand emotional intelligence have the advantage of being able to interpret not only their own emotions, but others’ emotions as well. The good news is that emotional intelligence, as a skill, can be learned and improved with time. This can lead to not only better relationships with those closest to you, but could one day lead to overall improvements in society as well.