If you’ve never heard of Goleman’s seminal book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, this guide is for you. Many of us tend to think of our emotions as something that is outside of our self-control and self-regulation abilities. In fact, up until recently, empathetic or emotional people tended to be portrayed in popular media either as offbeat, bohemian souls or as emotionally chaotic and troubled.

While films and novels seem to have caught up with the fact that self-awareness and empathy are traits we all possess, and constantly have to work on, many still don’t consider self-management and interpersonal skills as on par with those that come with becoming intelligent in particular fields.

Emotional intelligence, however, is becoming increasingly more important to all aspects of life, improving everything from job performance to social skills. In fact, there are articles produced every week not only on the importance of gaining interpersonal skills, but also the best ways to teach yourself and others the art of managing emotions and moods. If you’re still not sure how developing emotional intelligence is relevant to your life, we suggest starting by understanding what exactly emotional learning is and why it is such an important skill to learn. Here’s everything you should know about emotional intelligence!

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What is the Emotional Quotient?

Ever heard about multiple intelligences? While the concept of measuring intelligence on the basis of characteristics other than skills based on logic and reasoning has been criticized by many in the scientific community, those same scientists do tend to agree that there is a need and demand for a more holistic approach to defining intelligence.

Emotional intelligence isn't a new concept, but it was brought into the mainstream by the help of journalist Daniel Goleman. Goleman's bestseller Emotional Intelligence brought social competence and emotional awareness to the forefront of the conversation revolving intelligence. More than twenty years after his publication, the importance of measuring emotions and empathy with their own intelligence test hasn't been lost on the psychology and self-help industry.

If you're interested in emotional intelligence, you should understand that the concept deals with a human's capability to understand, process, and react to their own emotions and the emotions of others. These abilities deal with being able to empathize, be self-aware and be able to self-report one's own emotions. The majority of the work behind this subject has been developed originally by psychologists Salovey, Mayer and Caruso. If you're interested in reading some of the history behind emotional intelligence and an emotional intelligence test such as the MSCEIT, start by reading some of their published works.

How to Become Emotionally Intelligent

Everyone from gardeners to salespeople all have one thing in common: they all have to deal with having emotions. Whether you're interested in building up the rapport between you and your boss, want to develop your soft skills or want to improve the relationships you have with your family, becoming more emotionally intelligent may be in your best interest.

Some of the tips that you can take advantage of to kick-off your journey into emotional intelligence are:

  • reading more about the subject through blogs and websites
  • listening to knew podcasts about mental health and well being
  • trying out new health food recipes
  • learning a new skill such as gardening or crocheting

Emotional intelligence can be a difficult field to navigate. Luckily, there is plenty of material online with everything you should know about the emotion quotient to help get you started!

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Are Emotional and Social Intelligence Important?

From Bill George to the Dalai Lama, countless people have touted the importance of the ability to understand and perceive feelings and emotions towards establishing authentic leadership. Whether you’re interested in cultivating emotional intelligence skills because you want to become a more effective leader or because you want to gain a more holistic view of your general intelligence - social emotional learning can have a positive impact on your success in life.

In order to understand why it’s important to improve your emotional intelligence, you can start by understanding the scientific difference between the intelligence quotient and emotional quotient. While having a high IQ is generally prized by society, there isn’t much awareness surrounding how exactly intelligence is defined and measured apart from this quotient. Emotions are generally defined as belonging to one of three or four classes of mental operations, which include:

  • Motivation
  • Emotion
  • Cognition
  • Consciousness (although this one is less frequently included in the literature)

Taking a moment to quickly take these mental processes in, it’s easy to see how these characteristics can have an impact on great leaders, self-management and social awareness. But what exactly is intelligence?

In a 2011 publication by the Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence, Mayer, Salovey, Caruso, and Lillia Cherkasskiy discuss the definitions and measurements surrounding emotions and general intelligence. Apart from IQ tests, there are many intelligence tests that strive to capture people’s mental capacities in reasoning and logic. However, the authors cite a quote by the infamous English psychologist and statistician Charles Spearman:

“The most enthusiastic advocates of intelligence become doubtful of it themselves. From having naively assumed that its nature is straightway conveyed by its name, they now set out to discover what this nature really is. In the last act, the truth stands revealed, that the name really has no definite meaning at all; it shows itself to be nothing more than a hypostatized word, applied indiscriminately to all sorts of things.”

Needless to say, attempting to distill emotional intelligence and general intelligence into specific definitions will, by their nature, become outdated or incomplete over time as society’s views and tastes shifts. So why is having a high emotional intelligence important? The first way we can view the importance of emotional intelligence is through the ability of correctly perceiving the emotions of oneself and others.

Salovey and Mayer posit that recognizing “emotional patterns” are vital to the way we reason through problems. Fore example, correctly identifying and processing someone’s disappointment or happiness is a vital mental step in determining what actions to react with. Not being able to judge someone else’s emotions over particular topics or body movements can be detrimental not only in social settings but in professional settings as well.  Social awareness is something that many people have to consistently work on in order to improve how well they interact with strangers, uber successful people, family and more.

The significance of controlling your facial expressions and body language is easy to understand - you don’t need a Harvard Business Review article to tell you that mastering social interactions can lead to personal and professional success. However, emotional intelligence can be extremely important for your mental health as well.

Being able to identify negative emotions and process them in healthy and productive ways are tasks that many adults struggle with, sometimes for a lifetime. Developing an emotional literacy with yourself, being able to keep inventory of your emotional catalogue, can improve your physical health, help you achieve your goals and improve the relationship you have with yourself and others.

Learn more about the emotional intelligence with this guide to EQ basics!

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How to Develop Personal Intelligence Skills

If you're into the theory of multiple intelligences and are curious to see how the new science can improve your personal, professional and leadership skills, learning about emotional skills should be your first priority.

Emotional intelligence is like brain science but for your emotions. The art of perceiving and understanding emotions is a broad topic and can sometimes be overwhelming to understand. If you want to learn of different leadership styles or coping mechanisms, start by practicing some emotional intelligence skills.

Some of the ways you can take part in improving your relationship management or taking part in social and emotional learning are:

  • Joining a music class
  • Journaling about your day
  • Practicing mindfulness meditation

If you're curious to learn about all the different ways you can practice these sorts of skills, take advantage of the many online guides dealing with ways to improve your emotional intelligence.

Online Help for Self-Awareness

There are countless bestselling novels and informative podcasts surrounding the subjects of building a particular social skill, improving your emotional state or on perceiving the emotions of others better. If you want to start being an active participant in the world of self-awareness and want to start taking in advice from the experts, here are some websites you can start with:

  • HelpGuide
  • Six Seconds
  • Psychology Today

With plenty of online guides dedicated to the subject of emotional intelligence, you're bound to find exactly what you want to learn about the subject.

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