Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Updated: May 17

Emotional Intelligence, often shortened to EI or EQ (Emotional Quotient), was first mentioned in 1964 although become widely popular by the best selling book Emotional Intelligence by science journalist, Daniel Goleman.

Often referred to as 'soft skills' (ah don't get me started), they are particularly hard skills and characteristics to develop. At the Modern Mind Group, we offer training courses and workshops on Emotional Intelligence so we thought we would explain a little more on the subject for you to see how Emotional Intelligence fits into your world and matters to you.

Let's Jump in -

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is really about the capability to understand your own emotions, to manage those emotions and adapt your behaviour to different situations as and when you need to. It's also about looking at how you interact with other people, which can be called your social skills.

Are you able to effectively build relationships that have meaning or that are strong, genuine, authentic then ensuring that you have those for a lifetime or within your workplace?

We can break down emotional intelligence slightly further.

There are actually five key components to know and understand your emotions -

1. Knowing your Emotions

The ability to describe and explain the emotion you are experiencing. It isn't always as easy as we think. Anger and fear, for example, can be very closely linked. At times we may also experience more than one emotion at the same time, so it can get confusing.

2. Managing Your Emotions

It is one this to know our emotions. The next step is to manage them which is called self-regulation. It's about understanding know how the emotions are triggered and learning how you can respond rather than react.

3. Motivating Yourself and Others

Using your emotions and understanding your motivation based on pain and the gain, what you love and want out of life, versus what you don't want. If you can understand your motivations and then learn what motivates others you can help them to develop or perform. For example, leading a sports team or managing a team at work. This could also relate to encouraging someone to make a change in their life.

4. Understanding the Emotions of Others.

This is about learning to unlock empathy and compassion for others. To be able to learn reactions or through body language pick up that something may not be right with them. Some of this can be learned through people watching. The more you get to know yourself the easier it is to spot certain behaviour in others although be mindful not everything is as it seems. We must check for understanding and alignment. Be mindful and remember the analogy "just because you have a hammer, not everything is a nail"

5. Managing the Emotions of Others.

If you think about roles, such as a nurse, doctor, someone in the military, a counsellor, a therapist, somebody that has to manage the emotions of others or leaders within the workplace, these are where the demand for emotional intelligence is high. This is due to people management and high-pressure situations.

Situations where people are worried stressed, or anxious about a change or a process that's taken place. High emotional intelligence is about understanding those emotions that they're receiving and then reflecting on how they can adapt. Learning how to respond to help them to stay calm, to encourage them and support them to get through this particular change process or situation that they're experiencing.

"We can poke someone in the eye and it will really hurt, or we can go slowly and we can touch the whole eyeball pain-free." - Melissa Curran

That is what I say. That's what emotional intelligence is about. It's about taking that little bit more time to rephrase what you want to say and being prepared to say something in a different way to get a different response.

We can all go about poking people in the eye and saying very direct things that will hurt them. Remember people don't remember the words that you use, but they'll always remember the way that you made them feel.

Although you may be asking - What is it for you? Why do you need this emotional intelligence?

Well, you will have better mental health without a doubt, knowing your emotions and knowing how to manage your emotions and your energy levels will allow you to know when you need to take a break, step back, take some space from the relationship that you have to allow yourself some silence in amongst the noise or the chaos of life.

Greater job performance can be a benefit. Absolutely. The people that have the highest level of emotional intelligence, do have greater job performance and effective leadership of others. If you can't manage your own emotions, then it is highly unlikely that you'll be able to help somebody else manage theirs.

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?

Emotional intelligence is important to have a meaningful and fulfilling life. Harvard did the longest study on adult development that there has ever been. It was over 75 years and what they wanted to know was what constituted a good life, what made life good.

What they found from everyone that they studied over the 75 years was that it was about meaningful relationships. That's what made a great life! It was the relationships that the people had. Now, if you think about the relationships within your own life, you'll have your friends and family, your work network as well as your colleagues and your teammates. So there are different circles that you have these meaningful relationships within.

Understand that also as part of that, you want to have great relationships in all areas of your life. Emotional intelligence can definitely help you to do that.

Another great reason why emotional intelligence is so important is that depending on the role that you're doing, your emotions and the way that you process information situations and how you respond, behave or react is imperative to how the outcome will be.

Take the SAS, as an example, you have to have high emotional intelligence. People think of these people as hard military-driven individuals, but they are strong, critical thinkers. They have high emotional intelligence. They know when to use emotions and when not to, it would not be appropriate to show high emotions when you're just about to go into battle or you're just about to be deployed into military space. If you think of Andy Middleton on SAS who dares wins, for example, think about the way that they approach emotions and emotional response to situations. Okay. I'm not saying it's always right to turn off the emotions because they do need to be expressed at some point.

It's more about delaying that emotion that we have, take doctors, nurses or surgeons, they have to have a great level of emotional intelligence to be able to communicate with the patient's families, to be able to communicate with the patient themselves and manage the fact that they may be anxious, stressed or worried.

Ask yourself, how effective are you in doing that with the people around you when they feel worried and need that reassurance? Well, people that work in health care a lot more developed for actually doing this.

Then you've got therapists, people that work within psychology, counsellors and probation officers, these are the people that spend a lot of time helping people to look and reflect on their behaviour. You cannot change. Someone's mind if you cannot speak to their heart. It is really about creating that trust so that you can connect with that person. So they have to know how to, open up and know you respond to people because it all affects how a person feels.

Take cabin crew as another example in this role people see heightened situations where many people get on planes, there's turbulence, people are worried and the cabin crew are still serving the drinks, still serving the snacks, with a smile on their face, reassuring and keeping everybody else calm. It's habitual to them, but many great crew members have high emotional intelligence to understand circumstances, understand situations and adapt how they respond to those situations as well.