Why You Should Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

After writing about mindfulness earlier this week, I wanted to write about emotional intelligence as the two go hand-in-hand. I knew emotional intelligence (EI) was important but I didn’t fully understand how it affects you. The EI quiz told me I had “OK/ Average Emotional Intelligence” so then I started thinking, “how can I improve my emotional intelligence?” This is what I found…

What is it?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. The two psychologists who first introduced the concept of EI believed people with high EI could identify emotions in themselves and others and accurately use those emotions to enhance thought. For example, they know that sadness promotes analytical thought so they may prefer to analyze things when they are in a sad mood- given the choice.  People with high EI will know how to manage their own emotions, as well as others.

Many people have confused emotional intelligence with personality traits or tests. While those tests and traits are also valuable, don’t get them confused with EI; they’re not the same thing.

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Why is it important?

Emotional intelligence expands our notions of intelligence and can be used to help people find the right work and relationships in life. Having high EI means you are highly aware of your own emotions and others, and you’re not afraid of those emotions. People with high EI can be more effective communicators and leaders, and are likely more confident and creative. Being aware of self and others means they are not as afraid to be genuine and to make mistakes. Learning to be aware of emotions and how to manage them will help you reach your full potential.


Why we should teach children EI

Teaching children to be aware of their emotions and the emotions of others will teach them how to be empathetic and understanding. Teaching them to identify their own emotions and teaching them to self-regulate teaches them mindfulness, thoughtfulness and carefulness. Studies show that people with higher EI are more motivated and have higher social skills. A 2011 study using data collected on 17,000 British infants followed over 50 years found that a child’s level of mental well-being correlated strongly with future success. The evidence is here: we should be teaching emotional intelligence at a young age.


How to improve it

Now that we know how important emotional intelligence is, here are some ways you can improve your emotional intelligence:

  • Observe the way you react to others. This calls for mindfulness in the moment. Notice whether you are hasty to make judgments or stereotypes, put yourself in their place and think about how you’d want to be treated, be open to other perspectives and needs. Think about the way your actions would affect them and how they would feel.
  • Identify your work environment. Do you constantly seek attention for your accomplishments? Humility is a wonderful quality and it doesn’t mean you lack knowledge or self-confidence.
  • Self-evaluation. Take an EI quiz. Have the courage to look at yourself honestly. What are your weaknesses? Are you ready and willing to accept that you’re not perfect and you can still grow in some areas?
  • Take responsibility for your actions. People are forgivable and are usually willing to move on. Make an honest attempt to correct your wrongs and create new paths.


Quiz Yourself

Test your emotional intelligence with this EI quiz from Verywell Mind.

Everyone has some level of emotional intelligence, hopefully this post helps you understand the importance of it and the importance of improving your score.



References: New York Times, Psychology Today, Huffington Post, Mind Tools

Pictures courtesy of: Shutterstock, Vital Work Life

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