Your emotional intelligence is a reflection of your ability “to perceive, to control and to evaluate your emotions, as well as the emotions of others.” Emotions play a crucial role in helping us to know when a response is needed, while also helping us to prioritize what we pay attention to.
Gaining a clear understanding of your own emotions increases your self-awareness and this is the first step to being able to better understand others emotions. In addition, understanding your own emotions prevents reactive behavior and gives you the capacity to consider the many different factors that contribute to the emotions of others, increasing your empathy.
It is fair to say, situations, people, and things that garner our awareness usually also garner an emotional response, or reaction. Understanding the difference between a response and a reaction, is an excellent starting point for exploring your own emotional intelligence.
Reaction v Response
A reaction could be considered explosive in nature. A reaction is usually an emotionally driven experience, and does not involve reflection before taking action. A reaction can lead to, or involve a verbal, or even a physical altercation.
A response is a more mindful way of responding to a situation or person. A response considers the emotions and experiences of all who are involved. Being responsive as opposed to reactive indicates higher emotional intelligence.
Healthily Managing Emotions
Managing your emotions is critical, and points to high level emotional intelligence. Regulation of emotions, and your response to your emotions or the emotions of others are incredibly important factors when considering emotional intelligence.
Thinking before reacting turns a reaction into a response. Taking pause is a challenging practice but, it is a practice that allows you to accept the emotions of others, and accept your own emotions as temporary.
When you have the tools to effectively navigate emotional highs and lows involving yourself and others you increase your ability to return to a state of equanimity. Taking time to think before you react negates emotionally charged confrontation.
What would happen if you waited 72 hours before responding?
Reflecting on your Emotional Intelligence
These questions will help you take a closer look at your own emotional intelligence:
Are you able to accept criticism and responsibility?
Can you move on after making a mistake?
Do you practice your right to say “no”?
Do you feel comfortable sharing your feelings with others?
When solving problems, do you consider the impact on the collective?
Do you have empathy for other people? Can you consider their experience?
Are you an active listener?
Do you know why you do the things you do? Are you practicing mindfulness?
Are you judgmental of others?
Tools to Build Emotional Intelligence
ACTIVE LISTENING. Paying attention is essential to understanding how people feel. Active listening does not only apply to verbal cues, but non-verbal cues as well. Body language can be incredibly telling.
EMPATHY. Empathy includes your ability and effort to pick up on the emotions of others by putting yourself in their shoes.
REFLECT. Reasoning with emotions points to a high level of emotional intelligence. Since emotions are temporary it is important to be able to step back and reflect on how emotions have influenced your decisions and behaviors, as well as the decisions and behaviors of others.