Emotional intelligence, EI, is the ability to be aware of one’s emotions as well as understand and have empathy towards other people’s emotions. It is the most important feature a human could have in interpersonal relationships including friendships. EI also plays a significant role in promoting healthy, intimate and happy partnerships and marriages.
Having a high EI is embodied in a person’s ability to be aware of what they are feeling and thus are aware what these emotions mean to them and how they affect those around them.
In modern therapy, psychologists aim at developing their clients’ EI to empower them in managing their own emotions and develop their ability to challenge negative ones before they affect self or others around them, hence its importance in managing intimate relationships.
An article in Psychology Today says that Emotional Intelligence entails at least three skills: emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions, the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and helping others to do the same.
As a psychologist trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), I aim to provide my clients with this empowering skill of registering their negative thoughts that affect one’s emotional state and thus affect one’s behaviors (Referred to as the ABC Model). Having a high level of Emotional Intelligence entails having empathy. Empathy is defined as the ability to place yourself in others’ shoes and see the situation and life from their position.
Once a person owns and reflects a sense of empathy towards others, this is translated into high levels of social skills. This means that people feel comfortable being in close relationships with you because you have the capacity and ability to view them as separate entities from yourself and respect them for their own challenges and problems.
How does a High level of Emotional Intelligence play a role in the workplace?
A high Emotional Intelligence, empathy and positive and healthy level of social skills are important personality attributes in the workplace and for career advancement. In the workplace, a high level of EI is reflected through high levels of Self-Awareness of one’s thoughts, cognitive errors and then their emotions. This leads to a high sense of Self and Emotional Regulation in handling difficult times or conflicts, and finally this leads to a high sense of Motivation to perform at work and in one’s career.
How can one improve and develop their Emotional Intelligence?
- Always be aware of your thoughts and thinking (Research and read about CBT and their cognitive distortions).
- Be aware of and always reflect on your own emotions.
- Register with yourself how and why you behaved in a situation as a result of the way you thought and felt about a situation.
- Always try to put yourself in others’ positions and always practice empathy.
- Accept criticism and try not to be defensive but rather invite it and think about it to further improve.
- Be aware of your negative emotions (bitterness, anger, resentment, disappointment, guilt, shame, anxiety, sadness, etc.) before acting in a situation and assess the way you feel.
The importance of teaching our children empathy and developing their EI: Parenting Towards a High EI)
It is essential to develop a high level of emotional intelligence within our children and harness their empathic side to set them up for a healthy and successful life ahead of them. An empathic child is a kind child who will be loved and be popular, as well as who will show and receive love and positive emotions from their friends. Later on, they grow to develop a higher level of self-image, self-esteem and self-worth, which reflects on their adult personality.
They later on develop an Internal Locus of Control meaning they will acquire the ability to see one’s power and position in an adversity and fix it rather than blame it on the world or their situation, hence the internal locus rather than the external one.
A very important aspect to focus on is that our children MODEL our behaviors, thus it is very important to model healthy coping skills and model healthy ways to handle emotions including frustrations and anger. Talk openly and model communication calmly and kindly to your children, and you will see their Emotional Intelligence develop.
Focus on these four aspects when developing Emotional Intelligence in children – teach and train them to:
- Perceive emotions
- Understand emotions
- Manage emotions
- Use their emotions
The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Intimate and Loving Relationships:
As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I always aim to nurture a deeper sense of empathy within my clients towards one-another. Empathy is built through each one developing their Emotional Quotient (EQ) which helps one be able to feel for the other, put self in the other’s shoes and see the situation from their perspective. It helps couples build a deep sense of acknowledgment for the other person’s emotions and feelings, which in return builds a deeper sense of love, fondness and kindness and a deeper level of connection.
Having a higher and deeper level of Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Quotient (EQ) builds what we call a Love Map and helps couples stay away from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, stated by John Gottman and his co-author and wife Julie Gottman, which are the four main reasons for many couples’ conflict and turmoil. These include Criticism, Defensiveness, Stonewalling and Contempt.
Building empathy and having a high level of Emotional Intelligence means that both couples will feel safe and secure in the relationship, and most importantly feel heard, which fosters a deeper sense of connection. The power of not shying from feeling vulnerable and that your partner will see your perspective and be able to (feel for you) deepens the Love and the connection and solidifies your bond. Having said that, this enhances and betters the intimate and sexual connection of the couple which is one main pillar of any relationship along with the understanding and love and connection.
To help deepen your connection and build a higher Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Quotient, read about the work of the Gottmans and their research regarding love and loving.
Senior Clinical Psychologist
Marriage and Family Therapist
Founder and Director of the American Centre for Psychiatry and Psychology (ACPP)
Co- Founder of Gaia Wellbeing