Emotional Intelligence (EQ as opposed to IQ) is one of those things that I talk about a lot (and I mean a lot) in the training that I deliver. This is because when we’re talking about healing from trauma, being attachment aware or developing self care, EQ is uber important. But what exactly is it?
It was a phrase made popular by Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ in 1995 and I very much remember it being introduced into my professional reading at the time. That book was on the New York Times Bestseller List for over 18 months which I think tells us how vital having a language for communication, behaviour and our emotional world really is!
Over two decades have passed since that book came out and the terminology is now well used in popular language and mostly people have a pretty good shared understanding about it. But the more elusive questions are, for example, how do we develop it and how do we know if we’ve got it? Rather than try and unpick all of this separately, I thought I would just give a few pointers that tell us pretty much what we need to know about Emotional Intelligence right now.
- You can only meet someone as deeply as you’ve met yourself. This means that working on our own stuff is VITAL to then be able to fully work with others. It really doesn’t matter what your role is; if you’re working with other humans in any capacity, then working on yourself is the only way to go.
- If you happen to work with rapidly developing humans (children) then I would go so far as to say that if you don’t want to work on yourself, then really you shouldn’t be working in that field at all. Working with children in whatever setting, is invariably also about working with vulnerability, attachment needs, trauma experiences, mental health and well being challenges, 21st Century difficulties and safe guarding.
- People with Emotional Intelligence have the ability to know what is their ‘stuff’ and what belongs to someone else. They are then able to not take the behaviour of others personally and also to be reflective about themselves. We understand that perception is key and that we can all have very different ways of seeing the same thing based on our own life experiences.
- EQ enables the development of refection that brings with it the understanding that if you are pissing me off then I might want to look at why. What buttons are you pushing in me? Why can I take that from someone else and not from you? Why do I have a reaction every time someone mentions that? For me, if I press your buttons, particularly in training as we don’t know each other, then I suggest to people to use that as a guide to having an internal exploration. We all have different buttons so if they get pressed, they are telling us something important about ourselves that we may need to work on or certainly reflect upon. Believe me, I have plenty of buttons of my own!
- Emotional literacy is high where there is high EQ. The language for articulating and expressing emotions is vast and means that navigating the ‘messy reality’ of our internal worlds, is made easier creating an opportunity for communication with others. This is a two sided coin of better, more meaningful relationships as it means we can express ourselves to other people and also, this tells others that we are comfortable with them expressing themselves to us.
- Not taking other people personally allows a curiosity that is essential in attempting to understand another person. Curiosity comes from empathy and is an important part of EQ
- Change is manageable for those with a high EQ because it is understood that we are all growing and developing all the time. The challenge associated with change is seen as an opportunity for growth.
- Likewise, mistakes are seen as part of being human, part of life and a learning experience
- Eating well, sleeping well and good self care generally come from knowing that to be the best we can be, we need to look after the whole self. We know that the world keeps on spinning whether we take a step back or are on full throttle.
- Managing communications with toxic people is done with care and is limited. It can be hard to do as there can be shit flying around everywhere! But we’re all on a journey and we’re all on different places in that journey. Kindness, compassion and self care are the keys to better conversations and less stressful situations.
I hope that sparks some thoughts and reflections and remember…. when we know better, we do better.
If you’d like to use writing to move forward from past events, to stop feeling stuck and to develop your ability to reflect, then you may like this…