Top 17 Benefits to High Emotional Intelligence and the 29 Traits of People Who Have ItI have been in LOVE with the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI), which is also referred to as Emotional Quotient since I became aware of it as a “thing” back in 2005 or so. I remember being so taken with the idea of it that I spent much too much time taking an on-line test to measure my emotional intelligence or emotional quotient! I have dug into this topic to bring you the most relevant summary of information on this topic because if you are on the journey with me to moving from wherever you are in life to having a life that you LOVE, then this is a subject that simply has to be dealt with. It’s part of your growth and development process, which is part of what it takes to have a Life that you LOVE. We all know what I.Q. is – a measure of your mental intelligence (Intelligence Quotient) or how “book smart” you are. The idea of emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ) was popularized by author Daniel Goleman in his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, who as a science reporter for The New York Times read an article in an academic journal by psychologists John Mayer (University of New Hampshire) and Peter Salovey (currently the President of Yale University) who offered the first formulation of the concept they called “emotional intelligence.” But even before psychologists Mayer and Salovey offered this concept, history shows a variety of individuals who wrote, both directly and indirectly, the significance of being able to have abilities with emotions going back to at least 1920. In the 24 years since Goleman’s “Emotional Intelligence” book hit the market, the concept of emotional intelligence or emotional quotient has taken hold in business, educational markets, corporations and with the general public because it offers a wide range of benefits for any individual or entity. Let’s define emotional intelligence or emotional quotient before we get into the benefits. Emotional Intelligence or emotional quotient is generally defined as: the ability, capacity, skill or self-perceived ability to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of one’s self, of others, and of groups. This definition taken from “Understanding and Developing Emotional Intelligence” by Olivier Serrat, Asian Development Bank, June 2009, courtesy of Cornell University ILR School. According to the research, emotional intelligence or emotional quotient has 5 distinct components: self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, social awareness, and social skills. Each of those 5 areas is further broken down into the attributes inherent in each component. For your convenience and hopefully your curiosity, that list would be as follows:
- Self-Awareness: emotional awareness; accurate self-assessment; self-confidence.
- Self-Regulation: self-control; trustworthiness; conscientiousness; adaptability; innovativeness.
- Self-Motivation: achievement drive; commitment; initiative; optimism.
- Social Awareness: empathy; service orientation; developing others; leveraging diversity; political awareness (not related to governmental politics).
- Social Skills: Influence; communication; leadership; change catalyst; conflict management; building bonds; collaboration and cooperation; team capabilities.
17 Benefits to Having High Emotional Intelligence:
- Helpful for depressing situations in that it provides a broader perspective for handling challenges and problems
- Helps facilitate better and more rewarding relationships with people
- Helps you deal with stress more efficiently
- Helps reduce anxiety
- Helps diffuse conflict
- Allows you to empathize with others
- Provides calmness and clarity of the mind
- Helps build resilience
- Allows for better communication
- Builds integrity
- Helps you manage change better
- Increases confidence
- Increases creativity
- Helps increase performance and productivity
- Highly correlated to top work performance, promotions and higher pay
- Makes for more effective leaders and managers
- Links strongly to concepts of love and spirituality
29 Traits of People with High Emotional Intelligence:
- They are change agents. (think growth and development)
- They are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. (self-aware)
- They are empathetic.
- They are not perfectionists.
- They are balanced and healthy. (sleep and outside, non-work interests)
- They are curious. (an inborn sense of wonder and curiosity)
- They are gracious and thankful.
- They are focused. (not easily distracted)
- They are self-motivated.
- They do not dwell on the past.
- They focus on the positive.
- They set boundaries.
- They are great at managing their own emotions.
- They are creative and deep thinkers. (NOT over-thinkers)
- They are hard to offend.
- They know when to say no.
- They can distinguish between wants and needs.
- They can determine the moods and energy of a group.
- They think about feelings both their own and others.
- They ask others for their perspective.
- They pause or know when to pause.
- They ask why.
- They are open to criticism.
- They apologize.
- They forgive.
- They have an expansive emotional vocabulary.
- They respond rather than react.
- They show up as their authentic selves.
- They handle difficulties better.
Growing Your Emotional IntelligenceDo the 29 above listed traits embody characteristics that you would like to have in yourself? Do the benefits of having high emotional intelligence appeal to you? I would certainly hope so. How do you grow your own emotional intelligence? Perfect question, and I will give you my thoughts on how to dip your toe in that water starting with how I worked to help my own three children grow their emotional intelligence more than a decade ago. With my children I printed out a what I will call a “feeling words chart”, which was basically a 2-page chart with one page dedicated to pleasant feelings and one page dedicated to difficult/unpleasant feelings. Each general category, say for example ANGER, had a subset of feeling words. ANGER listed feeling words like irritated, enraged, hostile, upset, resentful, worked up, boiling, fuming, infuriated, insulting, annoyed, offensive, and so on. The HAPPY category listed feeling words like great, joyous, thankful, elated, lucky, fortunate, ecstatic, delighted, glad, satisfied, and so on. The GOOD category, just to drill down and make sure you get the nuances and flavor for this included calm, peaceful, comfortable, pleased, relaxed, blessed, reassured, at ease and so on. To me, this is not an exact science because it seems to me that there is some cross-over with words under say, GOOD or HAPPY, that could be swapped. My point being that this is not precise. The feeling words chart was a tool. With the feeling charts in the background, when a situation arose I would ask my children to give me 3 feeling words to pinpoint how they were feeling. In the beginning, my children would just give me a general word like anger, happy, or good. So, at every opportunity that I could or that I thought of, I would ask my children to give me 3 feeling words for any situation. As you can imagine, they got better at coming up with more than one word in a feeling category. And as you can also probably imagine there came the day when one of the kids asked me – why 3 feeling words? Is that arbitrary or is there something magic about the number 3. No, it was rather arbitrary because I am not some clinical researcher who knows exactly how to increase emotional intelligence, but it made sense to me at the time (meaning it was logical), and it seemed to be effective. So, in looking at my kids old feeling word charts, it seemed to me that for a beginner, it might be helpful to simplify the feelings into broader categories. Plus, as adults you are much more aware of feelings and the words that can describe how you are feeling. To that end, I have made this diagram of over-simplified emotions. I have reduced the total number of categories by half to make this first pass less complicated and hopefully less overwhelming to those of you who are looking to increase your emotional quotient. Now, it is my opinion, my assertion, and my belief (note that I am not presenting this as a fact borne out by research, which it may or may not be), that once you really go to work on yourself, once you work on growing and developing yourself, your emotions will shift. You will become less annoyed with people. Less in life will bother you. You will become freed up in countless ways. There will be less anger, less resentment, less upset. There will be more love, more joy, more happiness, more peace. So, I have made a visual for this. Here you will see that I am representing that the positive emotions of love, joy, happiness, gratitude, peace, contentment, etc. occupy much more space than the negative emotions. Since we are talking about increasing your emotional intelligence or quotient, I am going to introduce you to what I am calling (because I don’t know if there is even a term for this, probably there is), advanced emotional intelligence! How’s that for a bad name?
Advanced Emotional IntelligenceI sincerely apologize if there is an actual name for what I am about to describe. If there is, please post it in the comment section and we can all have a great laugh on me! To have advanced emotional intelligence you will first have to have some ability to identifying your emotions in any given situation and that requires self-awareness and familiarity with the wide range of emotion flavors or distinctions if you will. Once you have some ability in naming and claiming your emotions, and I would definitely suggest you use at least 3 feeling words per situation, then you can move onto this advanced stage. In this stage you will distinguish opposing feelings present in one event or situation. In other words, the more advanced you become in distinguishing how or what you are feeling, the more you can figure out that you can have opposite feelings about one situation. You can be both happy and mad about something. You can feel happy and sad about an event or situation. To help you grasp what I am presenting here, I will give you three examples. Oh! There’s that 3 number again. Very arbitrary. These are made-up and hypothetical examples.
- Seeing your old family home = 80% excited, happy, nostalgic; 10% angry; 10% sad
You are mostly happy, excited and nostalgic about seeing the home where you grew up. However, on a closer internal inspection of your feelings or perhaps as you get better at identifying your feelings, you realize that you are angry about some of the things that happened in the family home even if you found out about them much later in life. And you are a little sad about some of the memories.
- Discovery of a betrayal =75% angry, furious, hurt; 25% relieved, validated,
Discovering a betrayal would make most people angry, furious, and hurt to name the top emotions that come to mind. However, a person might feel relieved and or validated if there was some suspicion about the betrayal before it was confirmed. Or put another way, it is freeing for most people to know the actual truth even when the truth is painful.
- Starting a new job = 85% happy, excited, curious; 15% nervous, apprehensive,
Most people starting a new job are happy and excited and maybe curious. Yet we can probably agree that starting a new job often brings with it some anxiety, apprehensions, and other feelings.
Special Note about Anger, Grief, Loss and BetrayalI would say with a certain level of clarity that we in our society are not so great in dealing with the negative emotions in particular anger, grief, loss, and betrayal. It is extremely important, in my most humble opinion, that you begin to grow your skills in dealing with the negative emotions. Why? Why would you ever want to do that? For starters, there is research to suggest that we hold emotions in our bodies, especially the negative ones. To be really healthy, it is just prudent to deal with your emotions. This, by the way, is worthy of an entire blog post. So bear with me for I am just skimming the surface of this topic. The inability to deal with anger, grief, loss and betrayal can negatively impact your relationships, your job, your friendships, and more. And we are just not great at these unpleasant or negative emotions unfortunately. If you don’t have anger skills then it is either likely or somewhat likely that you will behave in a passive-aggressive way, which is really not cool. Or you might gravitate towards acting out, which is not good either. If you suppress or repress your anger, that’s not going to get you where you want to go in life. And people on the receiving end of misplaced anger are not going to be happy with you. There is tremendous freedom in being able to accurately recognize you are angry (hurt often being the underpinning of anger), to name your feelings and then as appropriate express them or not depending on the situation. Our society is also not so great in the areas of loss and grief. We simply have never been trained in how to grieve or handle some losses. The more you can manage and handle your feelings in the area of loss and grief, the better you will be able to hold and support someone else who is feeling a loss or grieving. In addition, there is an extreme amount of power and freedom to be able to grieve a loss. I say this having some practice in loss and grieving. We are no better, again, in my opinion, in dealing with betrayal. Ultimately betrayals often or most often involve anger and loss and grief. The more willing you are to dip your toe in the water of feelings and the more you practice feeling your feelings, identifying your feelings, and talking about them, the more you will be increasing your emotional intelligence – so I say.
Closing Comments on Emotional Intelligence and Emotional QuotientI have covered 17 benefits to having high emotional intelligence and 29 traits of people who have it. Do the 17 benefits appeal to you? Would you like to be the kind of person represented in the list of 29 traits of people who have high emotional intelligence? I sure hope so. If you want to have a life that you LOVE then being able to identify, manage and process your emotions, as well as recognize the emotions of others will give you power and freedom. Like any new habit or practice that you embrace or take on, it might feel awkward or weird at first. The more you do it, the more comfortable it will feel. I am not saying, by the way, that you can’t be successful in life with low emotional intelligence. I am not stating that at all. What I am saying is that if you develop skills and abilities in the area of identifying, managing and processing your emotions and the emotions of others you will have a richer and more powerful life. Why? Because not dealing with painful situations or events that upset you or make you angry don’t make the situation or event go away. When you can feel anger, pain, betrayal, loss, grief, you (in my opinion) will be able to feel MORE happiness, more joy, more LOVE, and more peace. Do you have to do this – work on your emotional intelligence? Of course NOT! You should never do anything that you really don’t want to do if you can help it. I promise you that any work you do in this area will ultimately be well worth it. How can I support you in this area? My commitment to you is to help you move towards having a life that you LOVE. And in my most humble opinion, having a life that you LOVE means being able to deal with ALL the aspects that life encompasses – not just the good stuff. We are pretty good already at the happy emotions. This is just more growth and development on the way to a life that you LOVE. What questions do you have? Does this make sense to you? What is your assessment of this subject? I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about this!!