The Four Pillars of Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is not something people often discuss, but it is critical for a successful and productive life. When someone has high emotional intelligence, they use their emotions in a positive way to guide their decisions and choices. This is often associated with the Charles Darwin theory that people's minds are meant to experience emotions and that this experience allows them to best adapt to their environment. For example, the emotion of fear works to trigger survival instincts in dangerous situations.
When you are working on improving your emotional intelligence, there are four pillars that you need to tackle. Having strength in all four pillars allows you to easily adapt to any situation and it allows you to use your emotions to make positive changes and choices.
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1. Developing Self-Awareness
When you are self-aware, you are able to easily pay attention to the emotions that you experience. When you are able to do this, you can quickly manage your emotions so that they do not lead to negative thoughts or behaviors. For example, if you start to feel nervous, you can quickly identify what is making you nervous so that it does not distract you from being successful with the task at hand. Those who are self-aware also find it easier to label their emotions as negative or positive so that they can react or adapt accordingly.
2. Developing Self-Regulation
Once you develop a good sense of self-awareness, you can start to work on self-regulation. When you self-regulate well, you are able to respond to your emotions in a more positive way. The following strategies help you to better self-regulate your emotions:
a) You channel negative emotions in a way that is positive and constructive, such as via writing, exercise or painting
b) To reverse negative ruts, you seek out a positive experience, such as watching a funny movie when your mood is poor
c) You are a passive observer to your emotions so that you do not act impulsively on them
d) You know what triggers negative emotions and you work to avoid these
e) You do the opposite of how your emotions are making you feel to turn negative emotions around
3. Developing Empathy
Once you are self-aware and able to effectively self-regulate your emotions, you need to be more in tune to the emotions of others and this requires a high level of empathy. When you have empathy, you can walk in someone else's shoes to better understand what they are going through and why they are experiencing specific emotions. This allows you to be kinder and to more effectively communicate with people who need help. You will look at a situation from their perspective to help them get through it.
4. Developing Social Skills
Now you have all of the tools that you need to be more socially successful. When you have good social skills, you are able to cultivate positive emotions in other people and work to prevent causing them to experience negative emotions. This helps you to build strong bonds with people that will last long-term.
Another aspect of better social skills is knowing that emotions are like a virus. They spread quickly to everyone around. For example, if you are with a group of people and you are upset about something, this causes those in the group to feel down too. It is important to recognize this and then you are able to use your self-regulation to exert positive emotions to keep the people around you happy.
Once you master your social skills, you will be able to be an effective leader. You will be able to make negative people more positive and people will naturally respect you and what you have to say. The most successful people have solid social skills because they can adapt to a variety of situations with ease and maintain their poise.
Now that you know what the four pillars are, you can assess your level of emotional intelligence with all four of them. It is important to identify the areas where you are lacking to ensure that you are focusing on the right things to make improvements. In many cases, people need to develop more self-awareness because this is a trait that people do not naturally work on. Next, make sure that your self-regulation is on par. Lastly, make sure that your empathy and social skills are constantly getting your attention. Once you develop all four pillars, you will find that you are more productive and a more well-rounded person.
- Rosemary Kitchen
Leadership Development Centre. (2015). Emotional and Social Intelligence. Retrieved February 16, 2015 from https://www.ldc.govt.nz/information-and-resources/toolkits/emotional-and-social-intelligence/
University of Virginia. (2015). Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Retrieved February 16, 2015 from http://www.virginia.edu/ien/vnrli/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/EmotionalIntelligence2014.pdf
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