Why the heck with Emotional Intelligence?
Inspired & Blessed

Why the heck with Emotional Intelligence?

Mar 16, 2024, 3:14 AM
Bob Acebedo

Bob Acebedo


I must admit I’m quite a mess when it comes to handling or dealing with my emotions. My emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ) is grossly poor – nay a “disaster” though – and is invariably a polar distant from my IQ, or so it is.

I wear my emotions on my sleeves, so to speak, that I prematurely
tend to express or act on them even before due deliberation by my brain.
How many dismal times in the past have I made fatal choices or decisions
turning suddenly my back from work or burning bridges of relationship
with others. When confronted with critical “make or break” situations, I
would find myself gravitating to either extreme options of “fight or flight”
– that is, either obliterating (if not, to use the colloquial term, “kill”) or
utterly detaching (“walk away”) myself from the situation or person.
Either way, neither I achieve a rational clarity nor the dissonant situation
or conflict is resolved.

Admittedly, for my part, I may have been academically proficient
(having graduated from college with Latin honors), but I find it queasy to
realize that I’m quite inept socially, sometimes at work, or somehow in
my relationships.

I’m inclined, thus, to subscribe what author Hannah Owens said,
“While being book-smart might help you pass tests, emotional intelligence
prepares you for the real world by being aware of your own as well as
others’ feelings.

So, why the heck with emotional intelligence, a.k.a. “EI” or “EQ”.

Emotional intelligence, first of all, is the ability to understand, use,
manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress,
communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and
defuse conflict.

No denying, drawing from my personal experience, the far-ranging
benefits of emotional intelligence cannot be underestimated.
Understanding our emotions as well as those of others can be the key to
better relationships, improved well-being, and stronger communication
skills. In many ways than one, emotional intelligence affects your –
performance at work, physical health, mental health, relationships, and
social intelligence.

Renowned author, motivational speaker, and business management
specialist Francis Kong aptly wrote: “Emotional competencies are crucial
for success. Many people fail because they struggle with interpersonal

problems, team leadership, conflict resolution, change adaptation, or trust
building. To interact with others, we need to consider not only their logic
but also their emotions. Emotional intelligence is essential. It helps us to
regulate our moods and emotions and make sound, rational, and
appropriate decisions. Emotional intelligence is a key factor for work

But how can we harness emotional intelligence for work success,
well-being, and positive relationships?

Leila Bulling Towne, executive coach and Udemy (online learning
and teaching platform) instructor, invites us to understand the four key
elements that are essential to developing emotional intelligence, thus:

1. Self-awareness

The first key skill of EI/Q is self-awareness, which refers to your
ability to understand your emotions in a given moment. How are you
feeling now – and why?

We’ve all experienced moments when a strong emotion takes over
and we behave irrationally. Imagine, for example, how you feel when
someone cuts you off on the road. Your heart beats quickly and you might
find yourself shouting or gesturing angrily. Once the immediate danger is
gone, you might return to your usual calm demeanor and wonder why
you just behaved the way you did. This is because the “amygdala” or
emotional center of the brain sends messages out when an emotion takes
over. This temporarily overrides the prefrontal cortex or the “logical” part
of the brain. You get “emotionally hijacked”, so to speak.

When people develop self-awareness, they learn to identify the
moments when they have a strong emotional reaction and then pinpoint
what is causing them to feel that way: their “buttons”. People’s emotional
“buttons” can be other people, places, or events that create a certain
reaction – positive or negative. The first step to EI or EQ development is
recognizing and becoming self-aware of these emotion buttons and
reactions. Once we are self-aware of our emotions, we can then learn how
to regulate them.

Under this element of self-awareness, I’d like to add one important
step (based from my personal experience): Understanding and
Reasoning with Emotions.

The emotions that we perceive can carry a wide variety of
meanings. Cognitive activity or reasoning with emotions involves not only
being aware or “feeling” your emotions, but also delving back into the
chain of indicative factors or root causes for our reactive feelings or

emotions. In my experience of conducting human resource trainings, I
“process” participants’ learning experience by asking, “What (not why, as
they would tend to merely rationalize) made them feel that way?” in a
backward order or digging out the root causes for such feelings or

2. Self-management

The skill of “self-management” refers to a person’s ability to
manage their emotions by making better choices and responding to
challenges and opportunities productively. Once people identify and
become self-aware of their buttons, they can begin to manage them.

Getting to the root of why something triggers an emotional
response helps to create a connection between the limbic and logical parts
of the brain. You want those sections of your brain to talk more often to
each other. People who nurture this connection are less likely to have
their emotions “hijack” their minds, behaviors, and actions.

3. Social awareness

Social awareness is paying closer attention to those around you. It
is a person’s ability to observe what others are saying with their words –
and with their bodies – and to examine how it affects you.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman writes: “Social awareness is comprised
of three competencies: empathy (sensing others’ feelings or perspectives
and taking an active interest in their concerns), organizational
awareness (reading a group’s emotional currents and power
relationships), and service orientation (anticipating, recognizing, and
meeting clients’ needs).

Strong social awareness involves watching and listening to others
and learning more about them to better understand how to “partner” with

4. Relationship management

Relationship management involves building, strengthening, and
deepening connections with people. People who have this skill value
“teamwork and collaboration”, and they are able to handle conflict in
productive and thoughtful ways.

The concept of relationship management seems like the holy grail to
a lot of us: it’s mysterious, it’s elusive, and we are searching for it. If we
can just figure out what we need to do to make that difficult relationship
easier, work would be amazing.

Good work relationship has the following elements: Clarity (each
person understands their role); Communication (there are regular
routines and methods to communicate); and Collaboration (each person
feels their expertise is valued and encouraged; it’s a partnership).

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