EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE (EQ)
The Ultimate Overview of Emotional Intelligence:
- What EQ Is & Isn’t
- A New Unique Model of Emotional Intelligence, and
- How EQ Creates Immense Self Power
What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?
Emotional intelligence is really your ability to do 4 things:
- manage and
- leverage your emotions, to create productive and successful outcomes that serve you, and also others.
To help get super clear on what emotional intelligence is, let’s expose 3 BIG myths surrounding EQ.
Emotional Intelligence MYTH #1
Emotional intelligence means you should always be happy and positive.
Being emotionally intelligent means that you know it’s both natural and necessary to experience the full spectrum of human emotions.
Emotional Intelligence MYTH #2
You can use emotional intelligence to manipulate others, to negatively influence, dominate, or control people.
Being emotionally manipulative makes you a manipulator, not emotionally intelligent.
Emotional Intelligence MYTH #3
EQ is something you either have or don’t have. It’s just in you, or it isn’t!
EQ is a skill that you can learn– just like any skill.
There’s an endless number of techniques, tools and strategies that you can use to practise and increase your EQ in any area of your life.
Let’s Debunk These 3 Big EQ Myths!
First, let’s dispel the idea that emotional intelligence means you should always be happy and positive.
If your dog dies, should you be happy? Of course not.
To be emotionally intelligent means that you understand it’s both natural and necessary to experience the full spectrum of human emotions.
It isn’t about having your emotions spill out all over the place, and it’s not about thinking that you don’t have emotions.
It is about being able to feel emotions, to accept and process them, and to eventually manage your emotions.
I want to shatter the myth that emotional intelligence can be about manipulating others through their emotions, so that you can negatively influence, dominate, or control people.
These characteristics are founded on power struggles, demonstrating low levels of empathy which is an important quality of having high EQ.
If you have low or no empathy, then you have low EQ, not high EQ.
Inherently,being emotionally manipulative makes you a manipulator–it doesn’t make you emotionally intelligent.
To believe that EQ is something you’re simply born with or not, is actually a fixed mindset in action.
EQ is a skill like any other that can be learned.
So, if you’d like to increase your emotional intelligence you most certainly can!
Personally, I’m constantly striving to increase my own EQ, and I can help you do exactly the same.
I have a ton of proven techniques, strategies, and tools to empower you to do this.
Why EQ Is Used to Control Your Emotional States, Not Others
You can inspire others’ emotional states.
You can influence their emotional environment.
But ultimately that person is in 100% charge of their emotions, just like you’re the only person who’s 100% in charge of yours.
And to reiterate–if you’re trying to control or manipulate someone’s emotional state, this makes you a manipulator, not emotionally intelligent.
Why Your EQ Is So Important
Your emotional intelligence impacts everything from your self-confidence to how you talk to your partner or your kids, to how well you work with your boss and your team, to your ability to lead and inspire others.
It affects everyone you spend time with—including and most directly, yourself.
So let’s look at;
1) the impact your emotional intelligence has on you, then
2) the impact it has on your relationships.
How Your Emotional Intelligence Impacts You
A big part of developing emotional intelligence is managing your emotions. That doesn’t mean suppressing your emotions or pretending they don’t exist. It means identifying and feeling your emotions, and then managing them effectively.
Your emotional state is critical because it determines how you feel about yourself and the world.
And when you really get down to it, the quality of your emotional state is actually the quality of your life.
If you feel amazing, your life is amazing!
But if you feel terrible, then life inevitably seems that way too.
When you don’t have a handle on how you feel, life quickly becomes a state of suffering.
But if you have great self-management then life isn’t just about suffering. It becomes a place that you thrive in!
This empowers you to be far more in control of how you feel, and allows you to create emotional states that serve you.
Athletes especially know this: if you’re in a great emotional state, you’ll make much better decisions which translates into better actions and performance. Simple as that.
How Your Emotional Intelligence Impacts Your Relationships
It doesn’t matter if it’s at work, at home, or in your personal life, your level of emotional intelligence affects your relationships.
There are two core reasons for this.
1. EMOTIONAL CONTAGION
The first is because our moods are so catchy, which is also known as emotional contagion.
Basically, your mood spreads like wildfire at home. An angry parent or a passive-aggressive partner can make the whole household walk on eggshells.
Equally, a couple laughing and connecting will spread joy and trust across a household in a heartbeat.
Emotions are just as catchy at work. An explosive, micromanaging boss puts everyone on edge in a microsecond.
Meanwhile, a boss that is upbeat, confident, open, and communicative, will help make the rest of the team feel at ease, purposeful, and engaged.
You might not realise you’re doing it, but at work and at home—in fact wherever you go—you’re spreading your mood onto others.
2. OUR INVISIBLE SOCIAL EXCHANGES
The second reason your EQ impacts your relationships is because of the seemingly invisible social exchanges that occur between people.
The way you act with others—including all of the subtle, non-verbal cues—either creates more trust with someone, or serves to break their trust and putting them in a threatened state.
This idea comes from psychologist David Rock, expressed in his SCARF model.
Essentially, people with higher levels of emotional intelligence will predominantly create safe, trustworthy spaces for others in their relationships.
And people with lower levels of emotional intelligence will foster untrustworthy spaces in their relationships.
So no matter who you’re dealing with, whether it’s your brother, your boss, your children, or your wife—your level of emotional intelligence is either building or breaking their trust, every single time you connect.
A New Model of Emotional Intelligence
“Research your own experience.
Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless,
add what is essentially your own.”
– Bruce Lee
People are layered and complex so naturally, emotional intelligence isn’t a clear cut, one-size-fits-all thing.
There’s a TON of different emotional intelligence models out there, all trying to capture an ocean of complexities pertaining to human emotions.
But to be honest, I haven’t yet found any one model that wholly and accurately captures the infinite dynamics of human emotion, how we use them, and how we respond to others’.
So, the way that I explore emotional intelligence is a bit like how Bruce Lee practised martial arts.
Bruce didn’t really follow any one martial art.
He studied many art forms and took the principles, philosophies, and techniques from a smorgasbord of martial arts (and even non-martial arts, like fencing). For good measure, he added in his own principles and findings too.
As I write, I’ve realised this is how I study and practise emotional intelligence too.
So instead of giving you a perfect cookie-cutter model, here are the parts of emotional intelligence I believe are the most important and most accurate, plus a mix of my own insights and findings as well.
The Parts of Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is actually made up of two big halves: the first half is about you, and the other half is about others.
Within each of these halves, there are many other smaller parts as well. Let’s take a look.
FIRST HALF: The Parts of Emotional Intelligence About YOU
Self-awareness is the foundation of all emotional intelligence, because if we don’t have self-awareness, then we are ignorant of our choices, our behaviours, and the impact we have on others.
Self-awareness includes things like emotional awareness; i.e. your ability to notice how you feel, your self-confidence, and accurate self-assessment.
It can be super hard to know if someone is self-aware, because self-awareness is an inner experience. It’s something that happens inside of someone.
Someone with low self-awareness might say, “I don’t know?”, when you ask how they’re feeling. Or it might be someone who’s really skilled at their job, but they don’t believe they’re that good at it.
Someone with high self-awareness will accurately understand how they feel, their strengths, and their weaknesses. And in a paradoxical way, people who are deeply self-aware will know they have biases and blind spots, rather than believing they can always see everything about themselves perfectly.
Self-management is the critical ability to manage your emotional state.
It includes things like your level of drive and initiative, and your ability to think before you speak.
It also involves how well you can deal with loss and failure, and rising to the challenge of the journey itself.
A great example of low self-management is someone with bad road rage or a partner who loses their mind because the dishwasher isn’t stacked correctly.
An example of high self-management is being able to get yourself to the gym after work even though you can’t be bothered, or an athlete who can accept and overcome the loss of a big tournament, even though they’re heartbroken.
If I were to ask you, “Are you an honest person?” chances are you will quickly say, “Yes! Of course.”
But if I were to also ask, “How good are you at saying what’s on your mind? Or at clearly expressing your needs to your partner or to your manager?” Suddenly it’s a whole different story.
So many people keep their feelings and needs a secret, suppressed and locked away, even from themselves.
But sharing what you really think and feel (depending on the nature and context of your relationship) is what being authentic is all about.
The first level of authenticity is your ability to know yourself, be yourself, and express yourself–including expressing your needs.
A more advanced level of authenticity is when you’re able to communicate your true self in a way that is effective.
An example of low authenticity is someone that’s being passive-aggressive, or someone who’s afraid to tell their boss they’re a micro-manager, but then complain about them being a micro-manager behind their back.
An example of high authenticity is someone who can have a deep, honest conversation about their goals and dreams, their fears, or what’s truly concerning them.
Some people love to make their decisions purely on feelings.
Others pride themselves on being purely logical and rational.
But the best is a combination of both.
This is emotional reasoning; the ability to leverage data with intuition. Feelings and facts.
If all you do is view the world through spreadsheets and data, you’re not actually leveraging ALL the data that exists, which includes your own feelings, senses, and intuition.
Equally, not everything you feel is 100% accurate.
An example of low emotional reasoning is climate change deniers—people who refuse to accept the data compiled by thousands of world-class scientists and experts in this field. They tend to focus on their offended, angry feelings instead.
An example of high emotional reasoning is an athlete who does all the technical study and research around their sport, then practices their technical moves over and over until they know exactly when it “feels right”.
SECOND HALF: The Parts of Emotional Intelligence About You + OTHERS
AWARENESS OF OTHERS
Being aware of others means that you are mindful and sensitive to what others experience.
It means you’re considerate of the choices you make and the actions you take, mindful of the impact it could have.
It also includes the ability to empathise, and even if you don’t personally relate to someone else’s situation or how their response, it means you can see things from their side, because you get that it’s THEIR experience.
They don’t need to act like you, because they’re not you.
An example of low awareness of others is someone who’s really slow to come to the dinner table, even though someone else has just spent 2 hours preparing for them in the kitchen, and another 4 friends or family are waiting them to hurry-up and join.
An example of high-awareness of others is the work colleague who calls after your zoom meeting, because they thought you were a bit quieter than usual and they wanted to see if everything is ok?
This skill relates to your ability to notice and understand not just other people, but also the wider social environment.
It also includes your ability to accurately read a room, and to recognise or anticipate others’ needs.
An example of low social awareness is a coworker who tells inappropriate jokes in front of work clients, or your partner who makes comments about how you’re behaving in front of other people.
An example of high social awareness is the coach who waits until you’ve had some time to digest a big competition loss before getting you to talk about where you lost the match, and what to do differently next time.
Emotionally intelligent people can foster, maintain, and develop their relationships, both personally and professionally.
They’re good at collaborating and working in teams, negotiating, and effectively resolving challenges and conflicts.
An example of low relationship management is a colleague who gets super defensive, or a partner who immediately deflects problems back at you, any time you try to talk with them about something.
An example of high relationship management is a colleague, friend, or parent, who can moderate a discussion that focuses on progress and solutions, instead of playing an attacking or defensive blame game.
Psychologist and leading authority on emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman, includes “influence” within the relationship management EQ domain.
But I see someone’s social influence as so important, and even more advanced EQ than relationship management, that I like to give influence its own category.
Social influence includes things like how well you can encourage others to shift their perspectives, inspire new beliefs, and to create new, empowering behaviours.
I’d like to reiterate that influencing others in a negative way, such as to commit a crime or to influence them to think they aren’t good enough, is not emotionally intelligent.
Because this type of negative influence lacks other key EQ skills such as:Because this type of negative influence lacks other key EQ skills such as;
1) Awareness of others – they’re unable to see someone’s skillset, or their potential skillset.
2) Emotional reasoning – typically, it’s them who wants to commit a crime, or they have low self-esteem, so they project their emotional states onto someone else convincing them that’s how they feel.
In this light, emotionally intelligent influence serves to bring out the best in others, not the worst.
An example of low social influence is the neighbour who complains a lot or the draining colleague who always has a problem for every solution that’s put on the table. It’s the person who plays the victim.
An example of high social influence is the schoolteacher who inspires kids from troubled homes or a bad neighbourhood, making them feel valued, important, and that they can achieve greatness.
The Neuroscience of Emotional Intelligence (in simple terms–no science degree required!)
When we experience something physically, or even anticipate it mentally, we either interpret that experience as something safe and rewarding, or unsafe and threatening.
This creates emotional responses such as excitement and joy or worry and fear.
It stimulates a neurological response prioritising different parts of our brain depending on how we interpret an event.
If our interpretation is that we’re safe and well, then we’ll prioritise a part of our brain called the prefrontal cortex (PFC).
The PFC is involved in high level processes such as concentration, judgement, decision-making, and the ability to differentiate between a good or bad decision.
However, if we interpret a situation as a threat, we prioritise parts of the brain like the amygdala and the hypothalamus. It typically creates what’s known as the fight, flight, or freeze response.
To make emotionally intelligent decisions we want to engage the prefrontal cortex because this is where we do our best thinking.
To avoid low EQ behaviour, like acting aggressively, shutting down, or absolutely panicking, then we need to learn how to actively shift from prioritising our amygdala, to our prefrontal cortex.
Emotional Intelligence & Self-Empowerment
I believe that you and I are here to become the highest version of ourselves, to be creators of ourselves, and to be co-creators of the world we live in.
Emotional intelligence is a vehicle for this immense self-power.
- The higher your self-awareness, the more intimately you can know yourself.
- The stronger your self-management, the more resilient and trustworthy you are.
- The more effectively authentic you become, the more whole you feel.
- The higher your capacity to reason with both emotion and data, the broader and wiser your perspective.
- The deeper your awareness of others, the richer your ability to understand and connect.
- The more skilled you are at managing relationships, the more you will thrive with others.
- The stronger your social influence, the greater change-maker and force for good you will be in this world.
Increasing your emotional intelligence unleashes your infinite human potential.
I can’t wait to show you how.