We’ve all heard of IQ. We associate a high IQ with intelligence, education, success, and a myriad of other positive traits. Less well known is EQ.
EQ, that is, Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence, is the ability to know, use, and manage your own emotions in healthy and positive ways. Often under-rated, this ‘soft skill’ is a powerful tool towards building better relationships, healthy communication, conflict resolution, and ultimately, a happier life!1
EQ is often defined by four traits:2
- Self-Management – You’re able to regulate impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, be self-motivated, stick to commitments, and adapt to changes around you.
- Self-Awareness – You can identify your own emotions and the ways they affect your thoughts and behavior. You know your strengths and weaknesses, and have healthy self-esteem.
- Social Awareness – You have empathy and insight into others. You can understand the feelings of other people, their needs and concerns, and pick up on their emotional cues. You are comfortable in social settings and understand the relational dynamics around you.
- Relationship Management – You know how to build and maintain good relationships. You're a team player who communicates clearly, positively motivates others, and manages conflict well.
These four traits, when developed, give a person great relational depth and stability. More than that though, traits such as Self-Awareness and Self-Management greatly contribute to having strong mental health because we can process our feelings rather than repressing them or letting them out in inappropriate ways. This reduces stress, conflict, anxiety and depression. It also increases our chances of forming strong healthy friendships which boost both our mental and physical health.3
The outward facing traits, Social Awareness and Relationship Management, give us the tools to be a healthy partner, friend, or co-worker. When we are strong in these areas, we are less likely to inadvertently offend or harm those around us because we will be clued into their emotions and be able to respond with empathy. We’ll also be better at conflict – able to manage our own feelings, listen, express ourselves, and not lose sight of the person in pursuit of the goal.
Some simple steps to grow EQ
It’s easy to assume that having a good EQ is an innate thing – some people are born with it, and others are not. And that’s not entirely untrue! Some people do seem to have a naturally higher EQ, however that doesn’t mean that we’re stuck with what we have. We can all take steps to increase our EQ and reap the rewards of better emotional management and stability.
Firstly, we can name our feelings. The simple practice of stopping throughout the day and taking a quick internal look helps us to be more aware of our own feelings and gives us the language to express them to others. If you're like me, you might have trouble naming how you feel. You can use a feelings word list to help identify your feelings.
Secondly, try to improve your listening. We can all be guilty of ‘listening to respond’, however the practice of empathetic listening requires us to look for emotional cues and use them to put ourselves in the speaker’s shoes and do the work to understand how they are feeling, not just what they are saying.4
Lastly, take the time to understand yourself. Make use of people like counsellors and spend some time unpacking who you are, what you have experienced, and how it made you feel. Don’t wait for a crisis, it’s always a good time to talk to a counsellor!
CatholicCare Victoria has a range of services that can help support you in your desire for mental health and emotional wellbeing. See the links below or look through the full list on our Services page.
1. Emotional Intelligence and Psychological Well-Being in Adolescents, J Guerra-Bustamante et al, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
2. Improving Emotional Intelligence (EQ), J Segal et al, Help Guide
3. The Positive Power of Friendships, Brent Grimes, CatholicCare Victoria
4. How Good of a Listener Are You?, Liz Gellel, CatholicCare Victoria
Brent Grimes | Communications Officer