Ever felt deflated by a co-worker’s harmful remarks? Mystified by a family member’s passive aggressiveness? Fumed over a friend’s flair for creating chaos? A lack of emotional intelligence could be the reason.
An education in emotions
Emotional intelligence is the ability to notice, express and discern what we’re feeling. It helps us understand and respond to emotions, our own and others’.
Registered psychotherapist Daryl Vineberg and clinical psychologist Diana Brecher share their expertise.
Brecher explains there are five key aspects to being emotionally intelligent: “self-awareness, social skills, empathy, motivation to achieve one’s goals and the ability to manage one’s own emotions.” These building blocks help us think, make decisions and navigate relationships.
Before we can make sense of the emotions of others, it’s important to first attend to our own. Through this, Vineberg suggests that “we can come to know how we actually feel about something or someone.”
EQ versus IQ
IQ (intelligence quotient) is the measure of one’s intellectual capacity to understand and learn; in contrast, EQ (emotional quotient) assesses skills like being a team player, having the capacity to “read a room,” and managing impulses to meet a deadline. Brecher says, “EQ skills tend to determine success in relationships, both at home and at work, far more than intellectual capacity on its own.”
Why our EQ matters
Much is revealed in our own responses to irksome interactions with others, says Vineberg. “Both the nature and the intensity of our reactions can shed light on the places in us that need our attention, and that ultimately want to be healed.”
How can emotional intelligence help us in the face of others’ negativity? Brecher explains, “Navigating toxic relationships is almost completely dependent on our social skills, empathy, self-awareness and self-confidence.”
Elevate your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence can be learned and practiced. Here are a few tips.
Consider the context
As Brecher explains, “Some societies value the expression of emotions, or their absence. Cross-cultural interactions often lead to judgments and criticism—for example, if you have a manager who values stoic non-expression of frustration supervising employees who naturally articulate stress as part of their process to move on and let it go, you have a perfect storm with each side misunderstanding the other.”
Allow yourself to feel
“It is crucial,” says Vineberg, “to accept that emotions are meant to be felt and, when appropriate, expressed.” Emotions “are full of information about ourselves, which can help us to become ever clearer about what we want and what we don’t want in our lives.”
Deal with toxic people
Dr. Diana Brecher offers these tips when dealing with toxic people.
- Set clear limits on unacceptable behavior.
- Communicate your position clearly and respectfully.
- Maintain your awareness of what you need, giving yourself permission for self-care.
- Notice what has gone well and show appreciation for it.
- Approach challenging situations with hope and persistence.