multiple picture of a female showing different facial expressions to show various emotions
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What is emotional intelligence (EQ)?

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a huge topic with much research and many books and articles dedicated to the subject. I describe EQ as an understanding of and an ability to communicate your emotional state, control your responses and consider the emotions and well-being of others. I am not a therapist or researcher so you will not get a scientific scale from me but instead, a few questions that you can use to arrive at a self-assessment of your EQ. If you want to know more, understand the research or get some help on EQ, dig into the massive amount of research that is available from the experts, but in the meantime, here are a few questions from a layperson that can help us begin the journey to understand the areas of EQ:

  • What are you feeling right now? (identification)
    • How many feeling words do you know or use to describe how you are feeling?
      • What words do you have beyond happy, sad, mad, bored?
    • Why are you feeling this way? (trigger)
    • What could be done to improve how you’re feeling? (processing)
  • How do you respond to stress or extreme emotions? (reaction)
  • How comfortable are you discussing your feelings? (communication)
  • Can you separate a person from his or her actions?
    • Do you seek to understand why someone is behaving a particular way or do you focus primarily on the behavior? (empathy)

There are no right or wrong answers. As you respond to the questions, check in with yourself. Are any emotions arising? If so, can you identify them? In general, assess your EQ as low, medium or high. Now we have a starting point. A general awareness of our emotional aptitude is a data point along our self-awareness journey.

Why Does EQ Matter?

EQ matters because it speaks to our ability to understand ourselves and others, self-regulate, and have exchanges with others from a standpoint of understanding and a level playing field. If my emotional EQ is high, I not only understand what I am feeling but use that insight to gain awareness of what triggered the emotion. Understanding my triggers, helps me in decision making and can help me develop strategies to manage and not be ruled by my emotions. When I am operating with a high EQ, your feelings are just as important as mine. I am neither a martyr denying myself, nor fighting to be heard while ignoring you in the exchange.

I have spent quite a bit of time looking at my emotions, what causes them, and how I process and communicate them. I have been extremely low energy and a bit disconnected lately. I knew that I was not feeling well emotionally, but could not put my finger on why. I was either struggling to understand why I felt so melancholy, or I was giving into it. Fortunately, I still have regular therapy sessions. During one of those sessions, I realized how small my emotional vocabulary is. I am comfortable and aware of the general and extreme emotions: happy, sad, angry, excited, bored.

However, I was feeling emotionally drained, but I could not pinpoint why. Was I sad, angry, depressed, feeling hurt? I looked at each of them, but neither quite fit. My therapist looked back over the last month or so and reminded me of the number of funerals that I had been to, the concern that I had expressed for a child and several other topics that we had covered. From my standpoint, I was disconnected and doing the bare minimum to get by, but in reality, life was moving quickly and I was hanging on for the ride.

I realized that what I was actually experiencing was grief. The fact that I did not recognize the grief interested me and made me start to look deeper at my EQ.

Developing EQ

I had a hard time understanding why I did not recognize grief or at a minimum tie the melancholy back to the unexpected deaths and other experiences that I was working through. But that was the case, I made no connection at all. I was so busy getting through those experiences that it never dawned on me how they were affecting me. It was not depression in that sadness is a natural, appropriate response to loss. The issue was not with what I was experiencing, but with my lack of awareness of what I was feeling and what caused the feelings.

I had stumbled upon another opportunity to expand my self-awareness by developing my EQ. It is a work in progress, but I will share the process that I have begun:

  • Check In: I am checking in with myself often in an attempt to both feel my feelings and recognize them.
    1. Place no judgement on your feelings. Allow them to be what they are in their rawest sense. They must be free flowing for you to properly identify and process them.
    2. Where is the source of the feeling? I cannot stress the importance of understanding your trigger. If you are dealing with a recurring feeling that you want to resolve, the resolution lies in the root.
      • Imagine that you are dealing with feelings of anger. You can work on anger management techniques, but if you do not deal with the source of the anger, you will continue to struggle even though you are equipped with tools and techniques to respond better.
  • Expand your feelings vocabulary: take inventory
    • Make a list of the feeling words that you know.
    • Look up synonyms and adjectives for the words on your list.
    • If you do not have a word to adequately describe what you are experiencing, talk to your trusted advisor and do some keyword searches.
    • Make a concerted effort to grow the list.
    • Refer to it to make connections between what you are feeling and why.
  • Share your feelings.
    • Try to let someone know in real-time what you are feeling.
      • If you need to take some time in order to communicate effectively, take it.
      • The goal is a conversation where each person is heard and respected.
        • We do not want to hold offenses against someone who is unaware.
        • We do not want to overwhelm someone with so much that there is no room for a response.
        • It takes practice, but we will get there.
  • Actively listen
    • One of the most respectful things that we can do is to listen for understanding.
    • Listen beyond the communicator’s emotions.
      • This is an excellent opportunity to practice grace and allow for the space for someone to work through their emotions.
      • Give what you would like to receive when you are communicating your feelings.
    • Be empathetic of the communicator’s experience

True communication is bi-directional and is most effective when each party is seeking to understand instead of to make a point. Communication is rudimentary to EQ development. We must both communicate to be understood and to understand. Let’s continue to work at developing our EQ to build better relationship and self-awareness.

Construction sign to denote that we are all under construction, a work in progress
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Our Emotional IQ matters because it speaks to our ability to understand ourselves and others, self-regulate, and have exchanges with others from a standpoint of understanding and a level playing field.

9 Comments on What Is Your Emotional IQ?

  1. I’ve learned so much of this over the last 8yrs or so. As much as I’ve learned,I know there’s still more that’s untapped. You can never know enough when you’re still learning.

  2. Great read! This is an important self-practice to continue to evolve to improve self-awareness & communication! Thank you for this article!

  3. EQ takes effort just like marriages. You have to chose to grow in it and in return I think the biggest reward is peace within, real empathy, and even harmony while allowing others and yourself to be your/their authentic selves. Ppl wouldn’t take offense so quickly if they do some of the things you mentioned when faced in circumstances. So many ppl walk around faking, secretly depressed, and confused because they don’t do what you suggest in the blog.

    Good read and great tips to grow in EQ.

  4. Love this! This gives us all a chance to properly channel and showcase our emotions, our feelings, our character! ✨

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