In the past the subject of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) had been viewed with suspicion (particularly among academics). It was that strange ideology that seemed to be too “intangible” to be treated seriously. It didn’t fit neatly in a box with a label.
It was difficult to measure with the standard tests at that time. And most of all it was upsetting our neat and tidy definition of IQ being the definer of individual success. The problem with IQ was that it could not explain why so many people with average IQs were outperforming those with higher IQs!
Today there is wide acceptance that EQ is that missing differentiator. Your level of emotional intelligence can have an enormous impact on almost every aspect of your life. Relationships, career and even mental health are all profoundly linked to your level of EQ. It affects how we manage our social behavior and how we make personal decisions; the results of which will either move us forward towards successful outcomes, or move us back with negative consequences.
Lets take a closer look at why EQ is so important to our personal success.
To a large extent, our overall personal competence is made up of our self-awareness and self-management skills. That is, being aware of our own emotions and managing our behavior. People with well developed emotional intelligence both understand and stay aware of their own emotions as they happen. They also have the ability to use their self-awareness to ‘direct’ their behavior in a positive manner.
The other important element of EQ is our social competence. Whereas the first elements were all about self-knowledge and management,
social competence is about our ability to understand other people’s behavior and motives.
In other words, its about our social awareness and relationship management skills. For example, how well we are able to ‘read’ the emotions of those around us and understand them. Take this one step further, the better we are at reading, then the more equipped at responding and managing those relationships in a positive way.
By now you may be thinking, “Is my EQ high, low or adequate?” “How do I know?”. So I thought I would list a few qualities typical to people with a healthy level of emotional intelligence. You may see these traits in yourself or someone you know very well. Either way, this list should point the way to those habits we should be practicing and cultivating in ourselves.
1. Stopping Negative Self-Talk
One of the most noticeable traits in emotionally intelligent adults is their ability to shut down self-defeating talk in their own head. They recognize that most of the negative thoughts in our minds are just thoughts and are not real. The more attention you give to these thoughts, then the more power you give them. High EQ people prefer to look for more external validations for what is ‘Truth’.
2. Persistently Positive
Another very obvious trait is in their overwhelmingly positive outlook on life. Even in the face of defeat or setback, they are already planning their next move to recover from the setback. Its not that they don’t feel the bitter disappointment of defeat. They do! It’s just that they instinctively know that the future is not a forgone conclusion. They don’t carry their defeats forward with them. They expect better things to come; and they will do all they can to shape that future.
3. Well Developed Empathy
Empathy is really about fully appreciating what another person is feeling. As if you were “walking in their shoes”. You don’t have to have gone through what another person has experienced. Your emotional reasoning fills in the gaps. Having well developed Empathy means that you are equipped with the foundations to manage your relationships with understanding and tact.
4. Insightful And Curious
Emotionally intelligent people want to know what makes people tick! They are not content to just label and dismiss people. They are curious about others opinions even if they completely disagree with them. They will always respect that others can see things differently, but still want to get to the bottom of the other persons logic. They are great at seeing the broader picture in a situation and how the different aspects of another person’s experiences have influenced their outlook.
5. Difficult To Offend
People with high EQ know themselves really well. They know their strengths and weaknesses; their good traits and their limitations. They are open-minded and know that human nature is far from perfect. Theirs is a calm self-confidence. Given these qualities, it is extremely hard to offend them. There is no fragile ego waiting to be crushed! A verbal attack is more likely to be met with temporary annoyance followed by a curiosity as to the reason for the attack. Other people’s negative opinions do not break them.
6. Balanced Assertiveness
Another indicator of high EQ is that person’s ability to assert themselves and establish boundaries in a style that does not alienate or offend others. They are tactful and empathetic in resolving conflict, all while not compromising on their core beliefs. They do this by filtering out the emotional reactions and focusing in on the real problem. This is what makes them great negotiators!
7. Seeks Happiness
Because they know themselves so well, they know what brings them the most happiness, joy and sense of achievement. High EQ people will not rely on others for confirmation of their worthiness, nor will they seek to follow ‘the crowd’. They find happiness in their work and play. They innately know that having fun is the best way to defuse stress and stay mentally balanced.
In summary, we need to look at Emotional Intelligence as the foundation for all the other elements in our personal development journey. We need to be self-aware and remain open, curious and genuine in our relationship with others. This is why I started this article with a request to practice these traits in our lives.
Related article: 6 Personal Development Goals For Work
Let me conclude with this thought. Our minds are wonderful learning machines. The more we repeat something and turn it into a habit; then the more it will eventually become an automatic reflex. With a bit of effort we can all train ourselves to respond to our environment with greater emotional intelligence. These 7 traits are not a definitive list,…. but they are a great place to start.