How to know if you have high emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EI) is your capacity to recognize, manage and express your emotions as well as discern and effectively deal with the emotions of others. Here's how to know if your EI is high or low.
Emotional intelligence is a powerful psychological concept that can help you develop yourself and improve your interpersonal communication.
Though the term was originally coined in the academic community, it was brought to the mainstream by New York Times journalist Daniel Goldman via his 1995 book of the same name.
The premise is that, unless you are exceptionally brilliant, it takes more than just a high intelligence quotient (IQ) to be happy and successful, because humans have both a rational and emotional self.
We often focus on the rational self, however the emotional self requires development also, in order to avoid self-sabotage, make progress and connect with others.
No matter if you are a leader, entrepreneur, creator, parent, spouse or friend, you need high emotional intelligence in order to efficiently and effectively navigate your life and life's work.
In this guide we discuss the specific traits that define someone with high emotional intelligence and provide actionable ideas to develop yours if it is low.
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How to know if you have high emotional intelligence
According to Goldman and prominent researchers in the fields of neuroscience, psychology and business, there are five essential traits that mark an individual who is emotionally intelligent. If you have all of these skills then you fit the profile.
You have self-awareness
Self-awareness is the ability to recognize where you are emotionally in-the-moment as well as reflect on your emotional state and its effects.
A self-aware person is also likely to be more self-confident and have a high degree of self-worth as a result of this heightened understanding of self.
If you are adept at tuning into your authentic feelings and finetuning them to help you get the most out of situations, then you are self-aware and meet 1/5 criteria for a high EI.
You practice self-regulation
Self-regulation comes down to conscientiousness, control and change and these three Cs get at the crux of what it meams to be emotionally intelligent.
Conscientiousness requires that you take full responsibility for your emotions, i.e. you own your feelings and don't blame anyone else for your emotional state.
Control indicates the ability to manage your emotions, specifically knowing how to emotionally respond to stimuli in an appropriate way, and prevent negative emotions from disrupting your life.
Change means that you are adaptable, flexible and open-minded. Even though you may not be able to control when and what feelings you experience, you know you can influence how long they last and how you react to them.
If you believe you are the master of your emotions and are good at using different techniques to manage them, then you practice self-regulation and meet 2/5 criteria for a high EI.
You are self-motivated
Self-motivation depends on a growth mindset, which is the ability to orient your thoughts towards clear goals and desires in order to make progress.
With a growth mindset, you acknowledge how you feel, whether good or bad, then set an intention to persist despite the circumstances.
If you are consistent in the pursuit of your goals and are typically optimistic about your ability to achieve them, then you are self-motivated and meet 3/5 criteria for a high EI.
You practice empathy
Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It is not enough to just think you know how someone feels, but actually feel it.
For that reason, empathy must come from an authentic place. In order to be genuine you have to have either experienced what the person is experiencing, or put yourself in their shoes to understand as much as possible.
If you are skilled at discerning and interpreting the feelings of other, can experience them vicariously and handle them compassionately, you are empathetic and meet 4/5 criteria for a high EI.
You have good social skills
It goes without saying that being sociable is an important trait to have in life and work, however you probably know many people who interact frequently with others but do so poorly.
In this case it is probably because they are lacking another set of core Cs — communication, cooperation and conflict management.
Communication is the ability to send clear and persuasive messages that are understood by, and resonate with, others.
Cooperation indicates a willingness to collaborate and work together with others to achieve a shared goal.
Conflict management is a skill that requires finesse when dealing with complicated interactions with others, and a knack for resolving them and reaching a common ground.
If you generally communicate clearly and get along or work well with others, you have good social skills and meet 5/5 criteria for a high EI.
5 activities to build emotional intelligence
If you went through the above traits and honestly assessed yourself, it may be that you didn't score high on one or more of the criteria.
That's common so don't feel disappointed. And, what is most interesting about the emotional intelligence concept is that research shows it can be developed.
We've outlined a set of activities to help you make stark improvements in the specific skills you lack in order to start living and working with a higher degree of emotional intelligence.
Develop self-awareness by learning how to be happy
By understanding what you need to live a happy and fulfilled life and build a personal development plan around it, you'll simultaneously develop a greater sense of self-awareness.
Improve self-regulation by adopting the Stoic mindset
Self-regulation is all about mastering your emotions and there is no better philosophy that can assist with that than the Stoic way.
Become more self-motivated by working with a life coach
A skille life coach can empower you to become more motivated through tailored developmental sessions, support and accountability.
Become more empathetic by being more considerate
Inconsideration and insensitivity are the biggest barriers to empathy, so hold yourself to a higher standard and eliminate behaviors that undermine your relationships.
Build social skills by learning the five love languages
In order to connect with and communicate well with others you need to get what you need and give what they need. Knowing your love languages, and that of others, can greatly improve your interpersonal dynamics.
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Though having high emotional intelligence is a must-have, it is not the sole solution to every life challenge. There are many other factors that influence how successful you are in life, many of which you don't have control over.
Still, your emotional state contributes largely to how you see yourself and how others see you. It pays to learn how to exert at least some level of mastery over it.