Everyone has had the experience of visiting a doctor, nurse, therapist, or even boss and felt like even though they weren’t saying anything that was particularly wrong, they just didn’t “get you”.
I remember taking my very, very sick cat to the vet and the doctor was completely ignoring my trembling voice, shaky hands, and tears and proceeded to tell me that she could pretty much die at any second. As I left the office I kept thinking, “Why doesn’t he see what I’m going through? Why isn’t he responding sensitively to my devastation?” I realized later on that what he was lacking in wasn’t tact or job qualifications, but of emotional intelligence.
People in therapy tend to also shop between different therapists until they find the one who “gets them” or in other words, until they find the person who recognizes and acknowledges their emotions. The mistake many people make is that they assume that just because they are working with people, they will become emotionally intelligent when that’s not the case at all. Being emotionally intelligent is a skill and it is important for any psychologist, coach, leader, doctor, and student to learn. Not only does it make a huge difference in your relationship with your clients and business, but it also has a profound effect on yourself.
Are You Emotionally Intelligent?
The simplest definition of Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to monitor your own emotions as well as others, to distinguish and label different emotions correctly, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior with yourself and others. There are four different branches in EI that represent a hierarchy of abilities: perceiving emotion, using emotions to facilitate thought, understanding emotions, and managing emotions:
Perceiving Emotion involves identifying emotions in a person’s physical and psychological sates, identifying emotions in other people, expressing emotions accurately and the needs related to those emotions, and distinguishing between accurate and honest feelings with inaccurate and dishonest feelings.
Using Emotions to Facilitate Thought involves redirecting and prioritizing your thinking based on the feelings associated with those thoughts, generating emotions that will help facilitate judgment and memory, capitalize on mood changes so you can appreciate multiple points of view, and use emotional states to better your problem solving skills and creativity.
Understanding Emotions involves understanding the relationships among various emotions, perceive the causes and consequences of emotions, understand complex feelings and contradictory states, and understand the transitions among emotions and emotional blends.
Managing Emotions involves being open to both pleasant and unpleasant feelings, monitor and reflect on your emotions, detach or prolong from an emotional state, and managing the emotions in yourself and others.
Positive Psychology and Emotional Intelligence
There are branches of Emotional Intelligence that positive psychology practitioners use as a model when working with coaching or therapy clients, business, groups, or students. The reason why is because being able to understand your emotions is fundamental to understanding what it is that will making you more functioning and flourishing. Being able to understand positive and negative emotions and different positive emotions will help the PP practitioner in their conversations with their clients as well because it enhances their emotional education, which undoubtedly affects performance and success rate with their clients.
These four branches make an ideal model for interventions to enhance positive emotions, strengths, or strengths of character.
Professionals who do not use emotional intelligence with their clients may likely find their own interventions ineffective if individuals or groups you are using it with cannot understand their emotions. It can pretty much only help them perceive what their emotions are. Using this model with your own intervention will make your experience with them much more effective.
Positive Psychology also contributes to the EI field, as “Using emotions to facilitate thought” has been described by researcher Barbara Fredrickson of UNC-Chapel Hill in her broaden-and-build theory. The “broaden” part describes precisely two aspects in that specific branch: 1) negative emotions can’t get you to into states that will allow you to appreciate other points of view and, 2) it doesn’t faciliate problem solving and creativity; only positive states can do that.
Other researchers that are not directly associated with positive psychology have also contributed to EI. For example, Paul Ekman has conducted an exhaustive research study where he studied and identified facial expressions that can help educate us on identifying emotions in other people. This contribution also helped EI’s branch “Perceiving Emotion”.
Using psychological interventions with ourselves or with clients can help create the ability to “Manage Emotions”. This state is the most mature use in EI and it’s a state many people try to achieve.
Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
Only in a business in which the staff are emotionally intelligent can they work together to maximum effectiveness. This can only increase the organization’s success, however measured. Emotional intelligence is essential for excellence in business.
Emotional intelligence can do wonders for your business because using it at work will make you understand how people and relationships function. Emotionally intelligent colleagues will consistently excel in leadership, teamwork, partnership, and vision because they will have insight on their relationship between the staff, organizations, directors, customers, competitors, networking contacts, and so on.
An organization that is emotionally intelligent will have staff that will be more motivated, productive, efficient, effective, rewarded, likable, and their goals and in the workplace will be more aligned with the business’s agenda. The reason why is because emotional intelligence is applicable to every human interaction in business. It will help with customer service, brainstorming ideas, and company presentations.
Emotional intelligence in the workplace will help you assess people better, understand how relationships develop, understand how our beliefs generate our experiences, and learn to prevent power struggles, negative judgment, resistance, and so on in order to increase vision and success.
To further demonstrate this point, you can watch this video on the benefits of integrating emotional intelligence in your organization or company:
Emotional Intelligence and You
We’re a month into the new year, which means many people’s motivation is higher than usual because we want to make something better of ourselves. Becoming more emotionally intelligent will help you reduce stress, remain focused, and stay connected to yourself, your goals, and others.
Being able to connect to your emotions and having a present-moment awareness of them and its influence on your thoughts and actions is a key skill that you should begin practicing so you can remain calm and focused in stressful situations. Usually when people are stressed they tend to disconnect from all of their emotions because it simply feels overwhelming, except the negative ones or they will numb themselves by shutting down.
To combat this, you should practice increasing your emotional awareness to understand what you need or so you can effectively communicate with others. A method you can try if you are particularly stressed this month is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to work wonders on beating your distress when faced with tense situations. For more information on how to use mindfulness meditation you can visit the EI toolkit here. It is completely free and it’s aim is to help you manage your stress and emotions better in five steps.
Did you know that you can also become accredited in emotional intelligence? The Langley group is offering professional accreditation to help consultants’ coaches, psychologist, and human resources, and businesses how to embed EI, positive psychology, and neuroscience into their companies. Check it out here.
As humans, we have a natural curiosity to understand others and our society. As humans we tend to be highly emotional and social creatures. Being emotionally intelligent will help you connect, which is the thing we need most in our lives to feel well. Learning to have a higher EI will make you successful in just about every aspect of your life.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Key Skills for Raising Emotional Intelligence. (2014). Retrieved from HelpGuide.org
Emotional Intelligence Toolkit - Helpguide.org. (n.d.). Retrieved from HelpGuide.org
Hall, N. (2007). Positive Psychology News Daily » Where Positive Psychology and Emotional Intelligence Overlap. Retrieved from PPND
How to Coach with Positive Psychology and Emotional Intelligence ‹ http://coachfederation.org/blog. (2014). Retrieved from Coach Federation
Marchant, J. (2015). Why EI is important in the workplace | EI at work. Retrieved from EI at work