Think with your heart: How and why to develop emotional intelligence

Modern culture is focused on productivity. For many active people, this translates into not only constant nervous tension, but also the desire to rationalize everything and everyone to the detriment of their emotions.

But it is a comfortable emotional state that allows us to achieve great success and helps to move on, and rational decisions do not always coincide with what we want “deep down”.

The concept of emotional intelligence can come to the rescue, which will help to better understand yourself and your impulses.

We explain what it is and what it is for.

What is the difference between feelings and emotions?

Both feelings and emotions affect our psychological state, but they differ significantly.

Feeling is a conscious emotional experience (a flash of anger, for example). Emotions arise against the will of a person, give rise to specific feelings and are often too complex to be aware of in them.

At the same time, they can and should be analyzed in order to be able to separate yourself from your negative experience or mood and maintain a pleasant emotional background.

True, the sensual side of life can be so confused that it can take a long time to realize the volumetric emotion: sometimes it is possible to recognize falling in love with a best friend after a spectrum of constantly flashing positive and negative feelings only with the help of a therapist.

The matter is complicated by the fact that there is still no single list of emotions. In 1972, psychologist Paul Ekman compiled a list of six basic emotions, which included anger, disgust, surprise, happiness, sadness, fear. Ekman later added embarrassment, passion, contempt, shame, pride, satisfaction, and excitement to him.

Robert Plutchik proposed another classification of emotions, the so-called wheel. In his opinion, there are 8 main emotional spaces that can intersect and generate new emotions.

For example, faded amazement and horror can give rise to awe, and annoyance and boredom can result in contempt.

Where did the concept of emotional intelligence come from?

The concept of emotional intelligence is relatively new, before such a phrase was perceived as an oxymoron.

The world started talking seriously about him for the first time in 1990 after the article of the same name by Peter Salovei and John Mayer for the magazine Imagination, Cognition, and Personality. They defined it as the ability to recognize their own and others’ emotions and feelings, to distinguish between them and use this information for further reflections and actions.

Salovei and Mayer noted that they consider emotional intelligence to be a subsystem of the already known social intelligence, which allows “to understand people and manage them.”

Further, the writer, psychologist and uncle of the author of Myth of Beauty, Naomi Wulf Daniel Goleman, threw firewood into the fire – and continues to throw it: it was after his best-selling book on emotional intelligence that a wide circle of readers came to know. Goleman managed to find the right intonation for a conversation with a huge audience and captivate her with a not the simplest topic.

True, the writer not only chewed the writings of his predecessors, but also offered his own interpretation: in his opinion, emotional intelligence does not consist of four areas, as suggested by Salovei and Mayer, but of five.

What does it consist of?

In the classical model emotional intelligence has four components.

  • self-awareness – the ability to recognize your emotions and feelings;
  • self-control – the ability to manage them;
  • public awareness allows us to understand the emotional processes taking place in society;
  • relationship management, affecting both interpersonal and group.

Goleman agrees with the first two positions, but combines and breaks the rest in his own way: in addition to self-awareness and self-control, his model contains intrinsic motivation, empathy, and social skills.

In general, Goleman’s classification seems simplified, but it is extremely practical and does not cause rejection, even for those who are first confronted with the topic.

Is emotional intelligence more important than IQ?

In recent decades, the mind has only been evaluated based on IQ. Those who were “lucky” to get a high rate were predicted a great future, and people with a low tossed up new ways to pump their intellectual abilities.

At Microsoft, for example, candidates were previously selected for how quickly they could solve logical problems.

Harvard professor Howard Gardner spoke of the fact that besides intelligence there are other equally important components of the mind. He argues that the mind should not be judged by IQ or another single indicator, but by seven.

This is a tendency to linguistics, logical and mathematical thinking (which is so much appreciated at schools to the detriment of the rest) and understanding of one’s own body, musical abilities, spatial thinking and, finally, the ability to get along well with other people and oneself.

Gardner later added to them the “mind of a naturalist” (Neville Longbottom, hello) and also admitted that competencies in existential and moral issues can also be useful categories in analyzing the personality.

So the statement made in the title of the sensational book of Goleman that emotional intelligence may be more important than IQ (although for some people in some circumstances) is more of a marketing ploy: emotions, unlike intelligence, are still a fresh topic on which you can to speculate effectively.

Why develop emotional intelligence?

Surely you have heard more than once about how easy it is for someone to move up the career ladder. Or how well someone manages to communicate with their own children.

The heroes of these situations are almost certainly highly developed emotional intelligence, which allows them not only to more clearly realize their goals (and therefore, achieve them faster), but also to successfully build communication with people at different levels – at some point in development this becomes a necessary step in any field.

If productivity doesn’t seem so attractive to you, think about the calmness with which you can perceive not the most commendable actions of yours and others, and developed emotional intelligence allows this.

Nobody threatens to become an insensitive blockhead – on the contrary, without unnecessary reflexes, time is freed up to enjoy the pleasant manifestations of life and minimize unpleasant ones (and draw all necessary conclusions from them).

We note that independent work with your emotions does not replace medical care, so if you suspect that you have urgent or serious psychological problems, you should not solve them yourself.

How to do it?

If you are a curious person, you can first take a test to determine emotional intelligence. At the end of this questionnaire, for example, they will give a very mild assessment of your emotional skill, which can be taken as a starting point.

In addition, tests of this kind help you to identify yourself in the proposed situations (“being in a group of friends, can you always understand how each of them feels?”) And independently analyze your abilities.

In general, there are a lot of assessment systems (SASQ, MSCEIT, ECI, for example), but in order to penetrate into them, it takes either really a lot of free time or the help of a specialist.

In any case, it would be useful to read Mayer’s articles with Salovei and Goleman’s work. The first two will provide an academic look useful for overall development, and Goleman’s books can be consulted for more urgent information.

He gives it enough to get acquainted with the topic, and forces the reader to perform simple, but revealing exercises like keeping a diary of emotions.

If there is no time for articles and books, you can use proven techniques for self-development.

It is important to remember that the development of emotional intelligence, like any other restructuring, requires time and return, so you should not worry if within a month you do not improve your personal life or if you do not take off on the career ladder (but certainly even in this short period of time small changes in relationships with people and yourself will be noticeable).

13 thoughts on “Think with your heart: How and why to develop emotional intelligence

  1. A lot of interesting information to take in, with an equally interesting thought-string down to the importance of emotional intelligence. More examples of how to develop such would be fun to see, but still, really nice post 😊

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