More than two decades ago, emotional intelligence emerged as a concept that has been thoroughly studied today and about which a large number of books and papers have been written. It is still the focus of many people around the planet today, regardless of whether we are talking about mental health experts or the general population.
In the following text, “Emotional Intelligence for Beginners”, we will get to know this concept better and what does it represent?
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EI) is defined as the ability to track and differentiate emotions, which refers to both ones own and other people’s emotions, including sharing accordingly. It is often equated with social intelligence, but these two concepts are not identical, although they have common ground. We will deal with the topic of social intelligence in a separate text.
The author who is most often cited when considering the nature and components of emotional intelligence is Daniel Goleman, the author of the book “Emotional Intelligence”. According to this author, the basic components of emotional intelligence are:
• Self-awareness – the ability to recognize one’s own emotions and recognize the ways in which they can affect the environment
• Personal decision-making – involves analyzing one’s own actions and recognizing their consequences
• Emotion regulation – recognizing what underlies an emotion
• Coping with stress – knowing the ways (including its importance) in which we can relax
• Empathy – recognizing and understanding other people’s feelings
• Communication – implies a willingness to talk openly about emotions, from the perspective of the person speaking and listening
• Self-discovery – recognizing situations and ways to talk about one’s emotions
• Insight – recognizing patterns that exist in one’s own as well as in other people’s lives
• Self-acceptance – the possibility of accepting one’s own shortcomings, as well as valuing one’s own virtues
• Personal responsibility-taking responsibility for one’s own actions
• Self-confidence – the ability to express their own emotions without passivity and feelings of anger
• Group dynamics – the ability to recognize when to follow and when to lead
What is the difference between emotional and practical intelligence?
In everyday speech, when we talk about intelligence, we mainly mean the so-called practical intelligence, which is expressed through the coefficient of intelligence (IQ). However, the emergence of the concept of emotional intelligence has motivated many scientists to take it out of academia into people’s lives. As a result, not only is emotional intelligence talked about more but its average coefficient is also raised, thanks to the fact that people are increasingly informed and ready to work on this important aspect of the life of each of us.
There are two important differences between practical and emotional intelligence:
• The first is that the coefficient of practical intelligence does not change drastically during life (which also depends on which concept of practical intelligence we use), except for some organic changes that result in cognitive decline. The coefficient of practical intelligence, therefore, has no significant oscillations during life. On the other hand, emotional intelligence can change or grow with age. This is because we can do many things to improve our emotional intelligence.
• Another important difference is observed in the context of the connection between emotional intelligence and business success. According to research findings, emotional intelligence is four times a stronger predictor of success in the business world compared to practical intelligence. This is another proof in support of the idea that it is wise to deal with one’s own emotional intelligence. Also, according to available data, among business successful people, more than 70% of them have a high coefficient of emotional intelligence (EQ).
What does the development of emotional intelligence look like?
Children who are only seven months old are able to recognize the emotions of the surrounding people. At the age of five, children become able to distinguish between false and true feelings. At 11, they become aware of the existence of mixed emotions.
Emotions, and thus emotional intelligence, regulate two important systems within our brain. These are the limbic system and the amygdala. One cell within these structures is able to create as many as 15 thousand synapses (neural connections) with neighboring cells. This is an important fact because by practicing the skills of emotional intelligence, new neural pathways are created in our brain.
However, it should be borne in mind that training takes time and consistency and that in this context there are no quick results and instant solutions. Functioning on the principle of “one step forward, two steps back” is not uncommon when we work on our emotional intelligence. The reason lies in the fact that we need a lot of time and patience to give up our old ways of functioning. According to some research, it takes about six years for a certain emotional skill to develop and establish itself.
Emotional intelligence reaches its peak in the fifth decade of life.
This certainly does not mean that after this period we can no longer work on improving our EI. The fact that it plays a significant role in as many as 58% of the behaviors and decisions we face on a daily basis is another good incentive to engage with our own emotional intelligence.
Do women and men differ in EI?
It is not uncommon to hear the view that women are, in general, more emotionally intelligent than men. That, however, is not entirely true. Women achieve higher scores in self-perception of their own emotions and in interpersonal relationships, while men have better results when it comes to self-regulation and stress tolerance. Furthermore, men have more developed self-esteem, which makes them less sensitive to criticism. In addition, more developed men’s independence leads to a more direct goal-orientation and less susceptibility to environmental influences. To interpret these findings, it is necessary to take into account the differences in upbringing between girls and boys – socially conditioned expectations that are placed before both sexes.
Where do the most emotionally intelligent people live and do?
Emotional intelligence research has shown that residents of the Philippines and El Salvador have the highest EQ, and residents of Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, and Singapore have the lowest. The professions that are associated with a high coefficient of emotional intelligence are psychologists, psychiatrists, managers, social workers, and salespeople.
Emotional intelligence can make our lives much easier, whether it’s relationships with other people or with ourselves. If we understand our emotions and know what we can do with them, we increase the chance of making good, constructive decisions. For example, we will be less angry with ourselves, and we will better understand the emotions of the people around us and thus increase our capacity for empathy and the establishment of quality, supportive interpersonal relationships.
Although this is a relatively new construct, emotional intelligence has been written about and talked about before, only it was not called what it is called today. This is evidenced by a quote from the famous ancient philosopher Aristotle:
“Everyone can get angry, it’s easy. But getting angry at the right person, at the right time, at the right time, for the right reason, and in the right way – it’s not easy”.
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