Maybe you never excelled in school, but you were a great athlete or had many friends. Maybe you could never solve sliding block puzzles, but you always could tell if someone was having a good day or not. Maybe you were never “smart” in the ways society praised, but intelligence comes in all shapes and sizes. There’s the usual suspects, like logical and spatial reasoning, but also the ones that are often overlooked, like kinesthetic and emotional intelligence. Arguably the most important, emotional intelligence is key to healthier relationships, healthier self and higher levels of success. In fact, studies have shown that IQ can serve to predict between 1 and 20 percent of success in a given job. EQ (emotional intelligence) on the other hand has been found to be directly responsible for between 27 and 45 percent of job success, depending on the field.
Emotional intelligence is built from several key functions: stress management, self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal skills, and decision making. Improving yourself in any of these categories will yield a stronger, more understanding individual. Truth is, issues in interpersonal relationships, professional or personal, arise from miscommunication. This miscommunication is rooted in a lack of perspective; individuals struggling to see their own thought patterns and the patterns of those around them.
In being unable to see the big picture, complications arise due to a collapse in any of the major foundations of emotional intelligence. Poor stress management could lead to an individual lashing out, a negative self-perception could emotionally close off a partner, a lack of self-expression could cause a friend to silently weather their complaints, a lack of understanding of the people involved only leads to stepping on more toes, and an inability to make a constructive decision at all only breeds further frustration. It’s plain to see: a lack of emotional intelligence can easily prevent beneficial relationships professionally and personally.
Improvement comes in developing one’s empathy, turning away from the sympathetic “I’m sorry” and toward the empathetic “you must be feeling [accurate assessment of their emotions].” Empathy communicates to the other party involved that they are indeed being heard and their feelings are being respected. This acknowledgement of feelings helps pave the way for further conversation and resolution of conflict. The recipient of empathy feels more secure and comfortable, like a teammate as opposed to a rival.
Another way to improve social intelligence is to practice reality testing. This practice is intended to put the world into perspective. The acquaintance who didn’t wave back may have simply not seen you, they don’t despise you nor are they out to get you. However, it also means taking off the rose-colored lenses so the red flags are visible as well. Reality means taking the good with the bad, and encourages an accurate reading of the environment with the people in it. A strong affinity for reality testing only reinforces empathy and other skills essential to healthy communication. Hand-in-hand with self-awareness, reality testing allows individuals to compare their feelings against a larger emotional setting, offering enhanced perspective.
The incredible thing about emotional intelligence is, while some have a natural knack for it, others with the tenacity can strive to higher levels. It is not like your IQ which is fixed and peaks around 17, remaining constant throughout adulthood. EQ rises steadily through-out your forties and tapers off a bit in your fifties. Just like more studying, more sports practice, more puzzles, or more practice resolving conflict in healthy ways can help expand our abilities; you have the same opportunity with your EQ. Perhaps your empathy needs work to better relate to your subordinates, perhaps your reality testing needs work to assure you that your superiors are pleased with your work, or perhaps you’re just looking for ways to grow into a person with the skills to maintain healthy and strong relationships and a higher level of success. Brain Basics is EQ-I 2.0 certified and offers the EQ-I 2.0 assessment and debrief. This assessment will show… what you look, sound and act like on the job; how your behavior compares to the average person’s; and what development actions would best serve you. This is the most widely used emotional intelligence assessment in the world and an excellent way to begin the journey to a better, smarter you. Whatever the case, contact Brain Basics to speak with our certified life coach to explore how you can measure and raise your emotional intelligence.