The Oxford dictionary describes emotional intelligence as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
Ok, that’s a lot to digest. Let’s break it down!
The plain English version is that emotionally intelligent people:
- Understand themselves: Their communication style and behavior (Self-Awareness)
- Understand others: Others’ communication style and behavior (Social Awareness)
- Adapt their behavior to meet others where they are.
Let’s take a look at Oxford’s definition a bit closer.
Aware Of One’s Emotions (Self awareness):
What’s the lens that you look through on a daily basis? It’s not the same as those around you. Your priority in work situations may be performance, it’s all about the bottom line. For others it might be accuracy, “We can’t proceed until we have all the facts.” Neither is wrong. They’re simply different. Different priorities lead to conflict without clearly defined goals and preferred outcomes.
Control of One’s Emotions: We continue with awareness.
- What triggers us? For me, it’s being criticized for something that I did that was intended to be helpful. If I take time, effort, and energy to try and help and it’s being criticized, I’m thinking…
- What makes us happy? Once we have the self awareness piece, we can anticipate our own behaviors in different environments. People gain energy in different ways. For some, a vacation is time by themselves with a good book. For others, it might be to ride as many rides as possible as Disney, getting photos at every stop with family or friends.
- Our responsibility is affected by our ability to respond. If we can’t respond appropriately in various situations, we leave ourselves open to miscommunication, hurt feelings, and resentment. What we’re thinking and feeling at the time doesn’t necessarily need to be expressed. That leads us to…
Expression of One’s Emotions: The key point.
How do we respond when we are triggered? Do we hold it in? Do we explode?
Or do we wait until we can release the tension in a healthy way? (exercise, healthy distraction)
Can we adapt our behavior to meet people where they are?
If you are a high D style, can you respond under stress with compassion? If you are an I style, can you slow down and focus on the facts under pressure.
If you can do those things, you are expressing your emotions with adaptability. You will be building better relationships one encounter at a time!
If you’re interested in increasing your Emotional Intelligence, I have a free PDF, “The Top 5 Most Popular E.I. Questions (and Answers) available for download here.