Emotional intelligence consists of four core abilities:
Self-awareness – The ability to recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior, know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence.
Self-management – The ability to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
Social awareness – The ability to understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
Relationship management – The ability to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.
When we’re under high levels of stress, rational thinking and decision making go out the window. Runaway stress overwhelms the mind and body, getting in the way of our ability to accurately “read” a situation, hear what someone else is saying, be aware of our own feelings and needs, and communicate clearly.
The first key skill of emotional intelligence is the ability to quickly calm yourself down when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Being able to manage stress in the moment is the key to resilience. This emotional intelligence skill helps you stay balanced, focused, and in control–no matter what challenges you face.
Stress busting: functioning well in the heat of the momentDevelop your stress busting skills by working through the following three steps:
- Realize when you’re stressed – The first step to reducing stress is recognizing what stress feels like. Many of us spend so much time in an unbalanced state that we’ve forgotten what it feels like to be calm and relaxed.
- Identify your stress response – Everyone reacts differently to stress. Do you tend to space out and get depressed? Become angry and agitated? Freeze with anxiety? The best way to quickly calm yourself depends on your specific stress response.
- Discover the stress busting techniques that work for you – The best way to reduce stress quickly is through the senses: through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. But each person responds differently to sensory input, so you need to find things that are soothing to you.
Many people are disconnected from their emotions–especially strong core emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, and joy. But although we can distort, deny, or numb our feelings, we can’t eliminate them. They’re still there, whether we’re aware of them or not. Unfortunately, without emotional awareness, we are unable to fully understand our own motivations and needs, or to communicate effectively with others.
What kind of a relationship do you have with your emotions?
- Do you experience feelings that flow, encountering one emotion after another as your experiences change from moment to moment?
- Are your emotions accompanied by physical sensations that you experience in places like your stomach or chest?
- Do you experience discrete feelings and emotions, such as anger, sadness, fear, joy, each of which is evident in subtle facial expressions?
- Can you experience intense feelings that are strong enough to capture both your attention and that of others?
- Do you pay attention to your emotions? Do they factor into your decision making?
Emotional intelligence skill (EQ) 3: Nonverbal communicationBeing a good communicator requires more than just verbal skills. Oftentimes, what we say is less important than how we say it or the other nonverbal signals we send out. In order to hold the attention of others and build connection and trust, we need to be aware of and in control of our nonverbal cues. We also need to be able to accurately read and respond to the nonverbal cues that other people send us.
Nonverbal communication is the third skill of emotional intelligence. This wordless form of communication is emotionally driven. It asks the questions: “Are you listening?” and “Do you understand and care?” Answers to these questions are expressed in the way we listen, look, move, and react. Our nonverbal messages will produce a sense of interest, trust, excitement, and desire for connection–or they will generate fear, confusion, distrust, and disinterest.
Part of improving nonverbal communication involves paying attention to:
- Eye contact
- Facial expression
- Tone of voice
- Posture and gesture
- Timing and pace
Humor, laughter, and play are natural antidotes to life’s difficulties. They lighten our burdens and help us keep things in perspective. A good hearty laugh reduces stress, elevates mood, and brings our nervous system back into balance.
The ability to deal with challenges using humor and play is the fourth skill of emotional intelligence. Playful communication broadens our emotional intelligence and helps us:
- Take hardships in stride. By allowing us to view our frustrations and disappointments from new perspectives, laughter and play enable us to survive annoyances, hard times, and setbacks.
- Smooth over differences. Using gentle humor often helps us say things that might be otherwise difficult to express without creating a flap.
- Simultaneously relax and energize ourselves. Playful communication relieves fatigue and relaxes our bodies, which allows us to recharge and accomplish more.
- Become more creative. When we loosen up, we free ourselves of rigid ways of thinking and being, allowing us to get creative and see things in new ways.
Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 5: Resolve conflict positivelyConflict and disagreements are inevitable in relationships. Two people can’t possibly have the same needs, opinions, and expectations at all times. However, that needn’t be a bad thing! Resolving conflict in healthy, constructive ways can strengthen trust between people. When conflict isn’t perceived as threatening or punishing, it fosters freedom, creativity, and safety in relationships.
The ability to manage conflicts in a positive, trust-building way is the fifth key skill of emotional intelligence. Successfully resolving differences is supported by the previous four skills of emotional intelligence. Once you know how to manage stress, stay emotionally present and aware, communicate nonverbally, and use humor and play, you’ll be better equipped to handle emotionally-charged situations and catch and defuse many issues before they escalate.
Tips for resolving conflict in a trust-building way:
- Stay focused in the present. When we are not holding on to old hurts and resentments, we can recognize the reality of a current situation and view it as a new opportunity for resolving old feelings about conflicts.
- Choose your arguments. Arguments take time and energy, especially if you want to resolve them in a positive way. Consider what is worth arguing about and what is not.
- Forgive. If you continue to be hurt or mistreated, protect yourself. But someone else’s hurtful behavior is in the past, remember that conflict resolution involves giving up the urge to punish.
- End conflicts that can't be resolved. It takes two people to keep an argument going. You can choose to disengage from a conflict, even if you still disagree.
~ Special Guest Post by Partho Choudhury