Health & Medical Self-Improvement

What is Emotional Intelligence and why does it matter?

Emotional intelligence is a personal development technique that has been used by personal development professionals since the early 1990's. Personal development techniques have become popular and widely accepted thanks to celebrities like Ellen Degeneres and Oprah Winfrey. Topics such as emotional intelligence have become part of Western popular culture. So, what is emotional intelligence? Why is it important? How can raising levels of emotional intelligence improve relationships?

Emotional intelligence or EQ refers to the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions.  Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer have been the leading researchers on emotional intelligence since 1990. Their influential article "Emotional Intelligence,"  defined emotional intelligence as, "the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions" (1990).

Salovey and Mayer proposed a model that identified four different factors of emotional intelligence: the perception of emotion, the ability reason using emotions, the ability to understand emotion and the ability to manage emotions. The first step in understanding emotions is to accurately perceive them. In many cases, this may involve understanding nonverbal signals e.g. body language, micro expressions and facial expressions. The ability to reason with emotions involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity. Emotions help prioritize what we pay attention and how we choose to respond emotionally to things that attract our attention. The ability to manage emotions effectively is a key part of emotional intelligence. Regulating emotions, responding appropriately and responding to the emotions of others are all important aspect of emotional management.

EQ is an important tool for improving people's social skills. People that have highly developed level of EQ are able to create and maintain strong healthy interpersonal relationships. Emotional intelligence is essential to understanding how people relate to each other. EQ also significantly influences how people solve interpersonal problems. This impacts both the personal and the professional aspects of life.  Developing Emotional Intelligence helps people solve interpersonal problems more effectively and efficiently. When people understand and develop their level of EQ they can take steps to reduce conflict and become less judgmental.  

People with higher levels of emotional intelligence are better able to manage their challenges and are usually more resilient. Their daily lives and daily activities are easier to manage because EQ provides them with an additional set of resources to resolve conflict and build rapport with people.

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