~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #140
"Life circumstances have little to do with happiness because much happiness is under your control — the product of your habits and your outlook on life. Happiness is synthetic — you either create it, or you don’t." —Life Altering Awareness
The uncertainties in life are vast. But to errantly ignore the ability to master the certainties is a mistake. Each of us is capable of cultivating a life that is fulfilling and attains true contentment no matter what changes life may bring by honing the tool of Emotional Intelligence. A term created by researchers Peter Salavoy and John Mayer and brought into the mainstream culture by Dan Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence, EQ is often the detail forgotten about that upon tending to makes a significant difference in the quality of our lives no matter what the circumstances may be. And the beauty is each of us has the ability to improve our EQ. What is Emotional Intelligence you may be asking? Often broken down into three components and skills: Definition of EQ: 1. Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others; 2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving; 3. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person. Let's look at it another way: EQ is divided into two components the Personal and Social. There are four abilities one will exhibit if they have a high emotional intelligence:
- PERSONAL: Self-Awareness
- PERSONAL: Self-Management
- SOCIAL: Social Awareness
- SOCIAL: Relationship Management
At the foundation of developing a strong EQ is the awareness of a balance that is often discussed here on TSLL. Exploring and understanding ourselves whilst respectfully and thoughtfully navigating the world around us whether in work or play is, when we look at what our lives are all about, what living well should be all about. Striking a healthy balance between ourselves and the relationships we built, and ensuring the relationships we build with ourselves and others are healthy, respectful, thoughtful, loving and kind. EQ is simple in theory, and eventually does become simple in practice, but initially, it will take time, attention and patience to build a muscle that may not have been worked in quite some time or ever. Now, as you will see below, there are many different characteristics. I suggest taking an EQ test (short or long) to determine where your strengths and weaknesses are as most of us may be quite proficient in some areas, but consciously or unconsciously weak in others. And with any eventual success, the first step toward improving is knowing where you need to improve and pat yourself on the back for what you are already doing well. But first, let's look at the carrot. What can be gained by improving our EQ?
Benefits & Characteristics:
- be the curator of your own happiness regardless of outside forces, events or people
- solve a variety of emotion-related problems accurately and quickly
- can accurately perceive emotions in faces
- manage emotions effectively – both our own and others – especially when we are under pressure
- regulate emotions such as anger or jealously and keep them at a healthy level.
- calmly find solutions to problems
- exude confidence due to trusting intuition and not allowing emotions get out of control
- self-aware: can look honestly at yourself - observing strengths and weaknesses - being able to work on areas you can improve
- comfortable with change
- strength to say no
- exemplify sincere thoughtfulness
- disciplined and therefore can discern between immediate and long-term effects
- thereby experience much success, effectiveness and productivity
- strong listening skills
- less likely to judge and stereotype
- manage relationships well
- able to identify with and understand the wants, needs, and viewpoints of those around you
- manage disputes effectively, become an excellent communicator, and become adept at building and maintaining relationships
The benefit at the top of the list alone is the reason I have been actively researching and continuing to remain curious about the concept of EQ. As I continue to improve and apply the practices of being emotionally intelligent to my personal and professional relationships, I have begun to see remarkable improvements, which is why I want to share with you some tools I have found to work for me, have been suggested by my counselor and shared online via a handful of sources (all are listed at the bottom of the post).
Tools to Enhance EQ:
- Reduce negative personalization
- If the tendency is to assume the worst when an individual does something that upsets or confuses you, instead take a step back. Refrain from jumping to conclusions (usually negative assumptions). And instead, examine the situation from multiple perspectives. By taking the step back you are enabling a more objective perspective, giving yourself room to breathe and collect your emotions and quite often recognizing that what others do more often than not has nothing to do with us (the personalizing) and most often everything to do with them and what they are dealing with, experiencing and feeling at that time.
- Reduce an all or nothing vantage point
- Whether in relationships (friendships or romantic partnerships) or at work, provide yourself with a banquet of options. In other words, don't put all your socializing into a relationship with one friend. Instead build a handful of strong, healthy friendships. As we've discussed in the past, often having friends in different arenas in our lives for different interests, etc. is a way to not burden any one friendship and also tend to each of our needs. When it comes to our romantic lives, while we may have a romantic partner, be sure to build a life you love living whether or not that individual is with you. The individual should add to, not be the sole reason for your contentment, so when you aren't together you are enthralled with the everyday routines, activities, and work you are engaged in. Professionally, give yourself options. Applying for a handful of jobs if you are considering a career move rather than just one. Taking an interview at prospective business if nothing else to build your networking and confidence in the interviewing process.
- Learn to manage stress effectively
- First we must be able to recognize that we are stress, and identify the triggers. Then, when we do recognize that we are stressed, to manage it in a way that is effective. Perhaps physical exercise or simply going outside and getting fresh air and convening with Mother Nature. For others it may be journaling their thoughts out.
- Finding the courage to discuss difficult emotions when necessary with the right person
- Knowing your boundaries and your priorities and values will help first determine when 'necessary' takes place. Not all negative emotions and anger need to be shared with the individual who angered you. Often it is a reaction that is due to our expectations and lack of understanding. But there are other times when you must speak up. Knowing the difference is imperative.
- When we do decide that we must discuss how we feel to help those we either work with or are in relationships understand our boundaries and better understand us, knowing how to effectively communicate with "I feel . . . " statements is a simple conversation starter. Rather than blaming the other person for which we can never fully knowing why or what prompted their actions, share what you do know for certain: how you felt and why.
- Become adept at rebounding from adversity
- Running up against unexpected challenges, obstacles and enduring setbacks is inevitable if we are choosing to forever evolve, learn and be curious about the world and improving our position and potential. It is how we respond to each of these that will determine our success moving forward. So how can we best respond? Asking the right questions: What can I learn from this experience? What are other perspectives and solutions beyond the limited box I have put myself? What is important? What can I be thankful for?
- Allow yourself to be vulnerable in personal, intimate relationships
- It is not easy to be vulnerable, opening ourselves up to hurt and potential pain, but on the flip-side, we cannot experience true intimacy, deep fulfilling relationships if we do not reveal who we truly are to other people. So how do we know when to be vulnerable and what does being vulnerable look like?
- Involved in a healthy relationship with an individual that has the potential to be trusted (we will not know this absolutely initially, but as we get to know them gradually, we gradually allow ourselves to be vulnerable)
- share honest feelings that are supportive, loving, nourishing and constructive
- affirming what the individual you are with shares with you by acknowledging what you heard and expressing gratitude for their ability to share.
- Body language and physical touch that is open, respectful, loving: eye contact, hugging, supportive (touching the arm or arm around the back).
- Make requests for connection, aka as "bidding" and respond to bidding initiated by those you are in an intimate relationship with: As revealed in an article in The Atlantic in 2014, researchers discovered that "masters in love", marriages that continue to thrive exhibiting and expressing respect and love for their partners, responded or "turned-towards bids" 87% of the time versus those in 'disaster' relationships (33% of the time). What does bidding looking like? as grand as engaging in a shared activity and as simple as pointing out something beautiful and the response is your partner acknowledging and commenting positively or supportively to your observation. It can also involve a personalized note, a thoughtful gift, a gesture demonstrating having listened to a previous conversation, a needed favor. The list goes on, but the key is you are extending a desire to engage and the bid is returned with attention or appreciation.
- Improve your emotional vocabulary
- Knowing how you feel and how to accurately pinpoint the emotion through words verbally (and written as well) is a powerful way to improve connection with others, building understanding and enhancing relationships.
- Pause before you speak
- The primary component of exercising emotional intelligence is acting consciously, and that includes speaking. Pausing to find the proper and most accurate, as well as supportive and constructive words begins to build and strengthen the bond between two individuals.
Emotional Intelligence has been proven to be more vital and a more accurate determinate than IQ when it comes to long-term success in one's quality of life. And the good news is unlike one's IQ, EQ is a learned skill. It is something we can practice and improve upon no matter what our age. However, because it is a skill, as The Atlantic pointed out in 2014, it might also be used for nefarious purposes. In other words, once one becomes extremely proficient at observing and recognizing emotions both in themselves and others they can use the tools to manipulate for self-serving outcomes. However, to counter, as a friend pointed out recently as I was discussion the topic of today's post/episode, if indeed someone is abusing this skill, then are they truly Emotionally Intelligent? Because to return to the original definition of EQ, it involves a vast amount of empathy; the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Life continues to reveal to me that quality is something that doesn't just occur, it is cultivated, it is conscious, it is requires consistency. Yes, it might be helpful if the improvements in our lives could occur by simply buying a particular product, a certain type of home or outfit, but the reality is no matter what clothes you wear, what size your home or what type of degree you have, knowing how to understand your emotions and observe them accurately in others followed by healthy action that respects who you are as well as those around you is the yeast of life. If you want to rise, if you want what you value to rise, invest in your emotional intelligence. Because when we do, beautiful moments in the everyday whether we are with others or in our own company will regularly manifest. ~Post Sources: Psychology Today, Mindtools & The Atlantic ~The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~A Powerful Couple: Boundaries & Vulnerability
~Why Not . . . Master the Art of Conversation?
~Why Not . . . Have That Difficult Conversation?
~Why Not . . . Avoid Unnecessary Stress?
~"The Power of a Dose of Nature", via The Wall Street Journal ~image from TSLL IG feed (below)
Download the Episode
Direct download: 140EQ.mp3
-- posted at: 12:00am PDT