Emotional Intelligence – It Really Makes a Difference

Over the last decade, there has been an increased interest in the use of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in the work environment, with the idea that improving EI competencies can enhance employees’ sense of well-being, professional performance, and leadership skills. This has been particularly true in the high-tech, banking, education, and financial industries. More recently, such training in EI has also spiked in public workshops and programs that focus on self-development. During my career as a psychologist, I also became a certified trainer and coach and stared training people in the domains of EI. I was frequently amazed at how much lack there was in EI training in companies and especially among professionals that I expected to have basic understanding of these concepts. Those include physicians, nurses, therapists, teachers, and others who have routine interactions with people. Their lack in EI training often created negative responses among their clients, increase conflict in the work place or families, and made life more difficult and complicated. To see the change these people underwent after attending EI training was always touching and refreshing and it brought me a great sense of satisfaction to see the positive change in their lives.

So what is EI all about? EI competencies include self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills:

Self-awareness – relates to how much a person is aware of their feelings, thoughts, impulses, and behavior. It also includes how much a person is able to connect to their preferences, acknowledge their vulnerabilities and triggers. If you want to be able to work with your anger, sadness, or addiction, you got to understand what is ticking you and catch long before it takes a hold on you.

Self-regulation – which is also referred today as self-management is the ability to regulate emotional states and thinking patterns. Hence, to better cope with anger by taking the steps to create space for oneself, to take a timeout when needed, to express anger in a healthy manner; To better cope with anxiety, worry, and panic by breathing, changing thinking patterns, or focusing on something else. One can also use self-regulation techniques to increase their level of energy and excitement upon demand.

Motivation – relates to possessing the understanding of what motivates oneself. People find it hard to keep going or engage in a task if they do not have the passion for it or receive any satisfaction and deeper meaning from the engagement. Hence, motivation requires understanding one’s values, developing passion and excitement about life, aligning oneself with values, and very importantly, develop techniques that fortify resilience which enables people to keep advancing in life despite setbacks and failures which are normal and expected.

Empathy – looking at our world today it is sometimes surprising to know that the human brain was designed and rewarded over thousands of years to be a social creature. That is our brain will reward us with positive feelings and experiences when we’re connected to others and experience states of intimacy. Hence, the competency of empathy relates to the ability to connect to others, have better intimacy in relationships, even with total strangers. Discover ways through which one can be more compassionate, grateful, and better connected to the community.

Social Skills – this domain is also referred today as leadership skills and it relates to one’s ability to lead others, handle difficult conversation and conflicts, being a better communicator, understanding the intricate social picture of any given setting, and being and an agent of change if desired.

People commonly do not receive any training whatsoever in these EI competencies unless they find themselves in psychotherapy or in one of the above programs. But if you think about it, isn’t it absurd to expect children, adolescents, their parents, and any other person to navigate through our world and culture which is getting more complex and stressful each passing day without some training or guidance? I wish that I had the opportunity during high-school to learn about these competencies and how they can improve my life. I know that I would have been better able to cope with the challenges I encountered and the decisions I made.

People who receive training in EI competencies often report greater job satisfaction, increase in their sense of well-being, increase performance at work or school, feeling better able to cope with difficult moments, being better able to connect to others, being more patient, more energized, more motivated, more aligned with their values, and having better relationships.

I invite you to read more about this important qualities and explore how you can improve your life and yourself but optimizing yourself. A book that I highly recommend is Search Inside Yourself by Chade Meng Tan. In addition, you can find free information on the net, just search for emotional intelligence. And of course, I’m always happy to speak to you about it in my practice.

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