Everyone’s heard of IQ, which is all about dealing with facts. But in many ways emotional intelligence is far more important. That’s all about understanding and communicating your own feelings. And dealing with other people’s. It’s a very valuable skill – and essential in relationships!
You’re being emotionally intelligent when you notice a friend’s eyes lighting up when they see someone who’s important to them. Or if you’re always interested in everyone you meet, especially people from other cultures and backgrounds. Or you give someone you’re talking to your undivided attention.
Because being emotionally intelligent means genuinely listening to other people and empathising with their problems. So that your friends know that they can say anything to you without feeling judged. And that you understand. And that you accept people for what they are, rather than trying to change them.
Emotional intelligence also means accepting your own strengths and weaknesses. Focusing on the moment, rather than worrying about the past or the future. Being consciously aware of your feelings, understanding what triggers them, and being able to control them when you need to.
It means showing your real emotions in a relationship. Constantly expressing positive feelings towards your partner, like: “I love you”, “I appreciate”, “I like it when we…”. Making good eye contact, hugging, smiling and kissing. Being aware of the way men and women follow different conversational rules. And have different argument styles. And being sensitive to nonverbal signals, such as gestures, interpersonal distance and posture.
It means being aware of other people’s moods, especially your partner’s. And never assuming that they know what you’re thinking. So you always say what you want, even if you’ve been together for years. And if something happens that you don’t understand? No accusations or judgments.
It means listening to other people’s opinions, but making your own mind up. Listening to your intuition and letting it help you when making tough decisions. Confronting issues as they arise instead of letting them fester.
Emotional intelligence also means being able to say “no” if you need to. Understanding and being sensitive to other people’s feelings, but also knowing what’s best for you and setting your own priorities. And being able to say all that, so that people know where you stand.
Emotionally intelligent people learn how to read social situations well. They pay attention to what everyone’s saying, but also use the way they’re behaving to figure out what’s going on.
They also recognise and challenge their own negative thoughts. Like ‘always’ thinking: “this always goes wrong,” “no-one likes me…” or focusing on the worst possible outcome, or blaming other people for your own problems.
They stay cool under pressure. And if they feel angry, they pause before they say something they might regret.
Practice emotional intelligence skills like these every chance you get, and you’ll feel more self assured, more in control – and your career and relationships will steadily improve!