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Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Counselling

Have you ever felt that your emotions control you and create havoc in your mind? Do you feel helpless sometimes and find that there is nothing you can do to save your relationships? Do you crave to be happy and peaceful? Do you hide your feelings because of the uncertainty of how to express them? Have you ever thought that being emotionally intelligent is more important than just being emotional? Let’s try to understand the concept of emotional intelligence and its major components.

At first, we need to understand exactly what the meaning of emotions is. Well, an emotion is considered as a psychological state of mind which is complex yet integral for human survival as it is said that with heart, which is connected to emotions, one can see more clearly than the open eyes. Hence, without emotions, a person is nothing but a machine, living a robotic life. In fact, it can’t be considered as living but mere breathing for the sake of carrying the burden of life by fulfilling the basic needs of life. So, emotions, indeed, are important and comprise three major components i.e.

(i) A Subjective Experience: It suggests that although there are people all over the world with diffident culture, caste, creed, sex, tradition, etc. they experience basic universal emotions subjectively. For e.g. Anger is an emotion experienced by everyone but the intensity can vary from mild annoyance to blinding or destructive wrath.

(ii)  A Physiological Response: According to Cannon-Bard theory of emotion, also known as the Thalamic theory of emotion, we feel emotions by experiencing physiological reactions such as palpitation, shiver, perspiration, tremble, etc. When an incident takes place, the thalamus sends a signal to the amygdala, a small, oval-shaped part of our brain that plays a crucial role in the processing of emotions, and also to the autonomic nervous system which results in physical reactions.

(iii) A Behavioral or Expressive Response: This indicates the actual expression of emotions. We try to interpret others’ intentions and feelings by interpreting or decoding their emotional expressions or behavioral responses. So, if a person says that he is happy but his behavioral responses are quite different like dull eyes, lifeless or forced smile, restlessness in the body postures and gestures, etc. then it can be assumed that something is wrong with that person.

So, the ability to interpret and analyze ours as well as others’ emotions accurately is known as Emotional Intelligence. It can also be defined as, “the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.” In today’s world where everyone is busy in developing their survival instincts in order to attain the materialistic glory and that’s why Intelligence Quotient or IQ is given more importance than any other aspect but people forget that Emotional Quotient/Intelligence or EQ or EI comes first to better and upgrade any phase of life. It lays a platform for the cognitive ability and emotional ability to meet and strengthens our aptitude for resilience, perseverance, motivation, stress management, empathy, successful communication, and acumen to establish an impressive rapport in the society.

Emotional Intelligence has five major components which contribute to fortifying the overall personality of a person.

They are:

(i)   Self-Awareness: It is a unique ability to give an observant look at your life without establishing any attachment to avoid self-biased opinions or narcissistic prejudices. If we want to excel and take control of our emotions then it is extremely important to know our virtues and vices, strengths and weakness but just knowing about them isn’t enough. If we develop the attitude of acknowledging our inner characteristics and after an honest self-assessment and the realization we decide what we can and want to change to be the best version of ourselves, only then we will able to be aware of our surrounding as well because it is believed that until and unless we aren’t aware of our own existence, how would we know about others; if we can’t accept our flaws and weakness in order to get rid of them by our sincere efforts, how can we observe others’ weaknesses and give suggestions for improvement.

(ii)  Self-Management or Self-Regulation: This is the second stage of Emotional Intelligence where after being aware of own ourselves, we need to learn how to manage or regulate them. Just knowing about our emotions, the trigger points, etc. isn’t enough, we have to inculcate the ability to control our behavior which is the result of the emotional experiences. In simple terms, it is the ability of thinking before acting or reacting. This self-regulation should be given attention from childhood itself as a child learns this skill for emotional maturity and building social connections in the future. Parents play a key role in helping their child to develop self-management skills by observing the child’s behavior in different situations and providing conducive environment so that the child can understand the consequences and effects of the emotional responses. For e.g. if a child is stubborn and reacts aggressively when his demands aren’t met, it becomes the responsibility of the parents to counsel him and make him understand the value of patience and self-satisfaction otherwise that child would grow up as an obstinately vicious person who can hurt others as well as himself if his expectations don’t get fulfilled.

(iii) Motivation: People, who attain the first two stages of self-awareness and self-management, become mature enough to motivate themselves in challenging situations. Emotionally intelligent people aren’t much fascinated by extrinsic motivation like fame, money, recognition, etc.; in fact, their foremost target is intrinsic motivation like self-satisfaction, self-actualization, and the ultimate acceptance. They acquire prominence in other important quotients of life which are Adversity Quotient (AQ) and Spiritual Quotient (SQ) resulting in the personality building of a great leader. A leader must possess these components in order to inspire and motivate the followers and to create history.

(iv)  Empathy: A person, who is self-aware, able to manage his/her emotions and use them sensibly, and empowers own self as well as others, can understand the actual meaning of empathy. It is all about putting your feet in someone else’s shoes and trying to experience the exact feelings they are going through. Empathetic people enable themselves to hear the echoes of others’ emotions in their own hearts. For instance, if a child fails to achieve the desired target, parents need to be empathetic towards him/her and try to go into the depth of the situation in order to find the reasons behind his/her failure. After that, if they manage to motivate their child not to give up on himself/herself, they will be considered emotionally intelligent parents.

(v) Social Skills: Ameliorating the skills of effective communication helps to lay the foundation of social skills. It helps people to form a meaningful nexus with other people and develop a stronger understanding of self and others. True emotional intelligence conveys the idea of clear idea formation and expressing them considering others’ level of accepting the same information. Even if one’s communication skills are excellent but the process of communicating a particular message doesn’t involve consideration, clarity, courtesy, etc. then there are chances of a complete fiasco in the communication process. For instance, a teacher, who has got expertise in the subject, delivers his lecture as per his understanding and ignores the students’ attainment ability will be having very few chances of getting satisfactory results. So, he has to be patient and needs to try innovative methods of teaching to enhance the acumen of the students.

To conclude, we can say that we can’t survive without emotions but being aware of them and develop the tendency of control and express them at the right place, at right time is as important as projecting a positive image of ourselves in society. There are so many examples of people who earned money and fame but due to very low emotional intelligence, couldn’t sustain relationships; got respect because of monetary authority but remained devoid of genuine love and reverence which come by showing above mentioned attributes of emotional intelligence.

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