EQ: Are You Emotionally Intelligent?

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“EQ? What’s that? Can eat one? IQ I know la!”
“Is it different from IQ?”
“Am I emotionally intelligent?”
“Is EQ something that can be acquired?”

Woah woah, hold your horses. The truth is; Emotional Quotient (EQ), also known as Emotional Intelligence matters just as much as Intelligence Quotient (IQ) when it comes to measuring one’s success and happiness in life. Ever referred to someone as financially wealthy, but temperamental? Clever, but sad and restless? These point to a deficit in emotional intelligence.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

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Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in healthy and positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, and overcome obstacles and challenges. It is the ability to confront with patience, insight, and imagination the many problems that we face in our relationships with ourselves, and others.

One’s emotional intelligence is commonly measured by four attributes:

  1. Self-management – The ability to delay gratification, control impulsive thoughts and behaviors, manage emotions in healthy ways, and adapt to changing environments.
  2. Self-awareness – The ability to recognize one’s own emotions and how they affect our thoughts and behaviors, to know our strengths and weaknesses, and to possess self-confidence.
  3. Social awareness – The ability to empathize with others, to understand and sense the smallest of others’ needs, emotions, and concerns, to be socially comfortable, and to understand the power dynamics behind society and its groups.
  4. Relationship management – The ability to build and maintain good relationships, communicate effectively, inspire and influence others, and work well in a team.

Take the Emotional Intelligence Test by the GlobaLeadership Foundation to find out if you are emotionally intelligent!

Is Emotional Intelligence Important?

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As we know it, the smartest and wealthiest people aren’t always the happiest or the most successful. We all have that one coursemate who manages to score a perfect 4.0 every semester but is socially incapable, and just cannot seem to work well with others. This comes to show that yes, IQ can get you into college, it can help you secure a scholarship, but it is EQ that will help you through times of distress when facing your assignments and final exams. IQ and EQ are meant to coexist, and the most successful people have a good amount of both. As university students, emotional intelligence affects:

Your performance at university
Possessing high emotional intelligence can help you navigate your relationships with your peers and lecturers, as well as lead and motivate others in group assignments and club activities. When it comes to looking for internship opportunities later in your degree, having a high EQ gives you an edge over the pool of applicants with grades just as impressive as yours.

Your mental health
When undealt with, stress and negative emotions can take a toll on our mental health, making us more prone to mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. If one is unable to understand and effectively manage his or her emotions, he or she may struggle to form strong and meaningful relationships, which results in feelings of loneliness, and the cycle repeats.

Your physical health
More often than not, unhealthy mental health manifests itself through physical symptoms such as stomach discomfort, fatigue, and headache. The inability to understand and manage stress can lead to an increase in blood pressure and weaken the immune system.

Your relationships
By understanding your emotions and how to manage them, you’re better able to express how you feel and understand the needs and emotions of others. This allows you to communicate more effectively and build stronger relationships, both at university and in your personal life.

How to Improve Emotional Intelligence?

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If you’re beginning to worry that your emotional intelligence hasn’t gotten to where you want it to be, the good news is that just like any other skill, emotional intelligence can be acquired with practice and an open mind.

Here are some steps you can take to pump up your emotional intelligence.

Be an active listener
When in conversation, listen to understand and not to answer. Make sure to fully understand what is being said before crafting a response. Always pay attention to the nonverbal cues to ensure smooth and effective communication while providing a safe space for the person you’re speaking to.

Take critique with grace
An important part of emotional intelligence is to take and accept criticism well. Instead of reacting defensively, people with high emotional intelligence take a step back to look at the critique objectively. Is the criticism constructive, or did the person offering it not mean well? If it is the former, how do I leverage that criticism to make myself better? How can I constructively resolve the issue if any?

Try to maintain a positive attitude
Attitude is a little thing that makes all the difference. So do not underestimate the power that your attitude has in manifesting through your actions and decisions. Do you know someone who infects others with their negative energy the moment they walk into a room? Don’t be that someone. Emotional intelligent people know to delay negativity, to be aware of the moods of those around them, and to act accordingly. They do not let what they cannot control control them. They make the conscious choice to choose optimism over negativity and self-pity any day.

Practice empathy
Are you able to put yourself in the shoes of others and to understand why they feel what they feel? Congratulations, you have been blessed with the gift of empathy. However, empathy is a skill that can be developed (hence the word practice). Paying close attention to verbal and nonverbal cues can give you great insights into the feelings of those around you. Practice putting on your friend and family’s shoes, even if it is just for a moment. Being empathetic doesn’t mean navigating your way through statements of pity. Empathy is simply the reminder that we are all humans after all.

Learn the art of picking yourself up
A person with high emotional intelligence isn’t someone who is free from all worries and adversities. Everyone encounters their own set of challenges in life. It is how we react to these challenges that sets us apart. We already know that optimism and the right attitude are some of the determiners of success. To help you bounce back from adversity, a great tip is to ask yourself “What is this trying to teach me?” instead of “Why me”.

Emotional intelligence can evolve over time, as long as you have the desire to increase it. Every person, challenge, or situation faced is a prime learning opportunity to test your EQ. It takes practice, but you can start reaping the benefits immediately.

“It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence. It is not the triumph of heart over head. It is the unique intersection of both.”

– David Caruso