I am sure you have heard of IQ or Intelligence Quotient but you may not have heard of EQ or Emotional Quotient? IQ is usually expressed as a number to represent the apparent intelligence of a person. The quotient is usually relative to your performance based on an average of other people in the same age bracket. 

EQ or emotional intelligence is your ability to understand, use and manage your emotions in positive ways. This could be in relation to communicating with others, expressing yourself, coping with stress and overcoming challenges. An EQ test will usually test a range of functions. You will receive a score as well as your strengths and weaknesses. 

Employers are frequently looking for more rounded people to employ. They want a combination of people who score highly in both IQ and EQ. Employers usually want a successful team environment and so it is important that their staff can get on together. Personality tests and emotional intelligence tests are often part of the recruitment process to ensure the right people are recruited.

There are lots of free EQ tests online if you want to test yours, such as this one from 6Seconds. 


The attributes of Emotional Intelligence


A high EQ will help you identify and succeed at your goals and building and maintaining strong relationships. It will identify how well you know yourself and whether you can understand and connect with your feelings. EQ is most commonly defined by four attributes. These are self-management, self-awareness, social awareness and relationship management. 

1. Self-Management

This is about how you manage your own emotions. Can you adapt and manage change? Can you control your impulses, feelings and behaviours? Will you commit to a goal and follow through with action? Can you take the initiative when you identify something needs to be changed?

2. Self-Awareness

This is about understanding yourself. How well do you know you and how you will react in a situation? Are you aware of how your thoughts, feelings and behaviours connect? Do you know what your strengths and weaknesses are? Are you confident you can achieve your goals?

3. Social Awareness

This is about understanding the emotions in others? Can you pick up on emotional cues? Can you emphasise with others? How do you engage socially with others? Are you aware of the needs of others and how do you respond to those needs?

4. Relationship Management

This is about managing your relationships with others. Can you work well with other people? How do you manage conflict? Are you able to persuade and influence others? Do you understand the power dynamics across relationships? Can you work well in a team? Do you know how to communicate well?


Why is EQ important?


Emotional Intelligence affects every aspect of your life. If you are not able to manage your own emotions you will likely struggle with your mental health. You will be more prone to stress, unlikely to manage it and more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. High stress levels and poor mental health can lead to various physical ailments such as high blood pressure. You may develop poor sleep patterns, unhealthy eating habits and low immunity.

Being able to develop and form relationships is so important to achieving happiness and having strong mental health. Human Beings are social animals and without other people you are more likely to suffer with loneliness and isolation. The ability to communicate will allow you to build stronger relationships with meaningful boundaries. Understanding both yourself and other people allows you to identify and find your tribe; people with similar likes and interests. A high emotional intelligence will provide you with the tools to balance life and feel both loved and happy. 

Emotional intelligence also helps you academically and in your career. Managing your emotions and your stress levels is as important as your intelligence when it comes to passing exams. To succeed well in life, you need both IQ and EQ. They co-exist and without one the other is not as strong.   


How can you improve your EQ?


You can improve your EQ at any age or time of your life. First you need to understand what EQ is, and its components. Then consider what aspects you naturally do and what areas you need to improve. You will then need to consider what habits you need to change in your life. We would suggest you don’t make too many changes at once as this will make it difficult to maintain. Remember it takes on average 28 days for a new habit to become embedded. Also consider what you are gaining from the new habit. If it is not doing anything for your personal values then it will be hard for you to maintain.

To improve your EQ, you also need to consider resilience and how you cope when stressed. When we are emotional, we lose the ability to think rationally. Our brain has two parts; the “thinking brain” (cortex) and the “emotional brain” (limbic). The cortex is the brain we use to problem solve and where our thoughts and reasoning develops. The limbic brain contains our emotions and feelings about situations. When we are stressed, we automatically start using this area of the brain. Just as stress switches off the thinking brain, resilience switches it back on again. Practicing resilience techniques improves the speed at which we can switch between our emotional and thinking brains. These might include doing breathing exercises such as this 7/11 breathing exercise, which calms the limbic system. 


Improve your self-management skills


Emotions tell you about yourself and how you feel about events and situations. Being able to manage your emotions is important. It can be easy to become overwhelmed or stressed. Having the skills to stay emotionally present allows you to manage these situations. Pushing your emotions away takes away your need to deal with the current situation. Conversely if you get too emotional you will find it difficult to manage your actions in the situation. 

Learn about your emotions. What triggers sadness, happiness, anger etc. The more you understand about your emotions and what triggers them, the easier it will become to manage them. Practicing remaining calm will help you when faced with stressful situations. Our breathing technique will help you achieve this. Practice the this daily and it will provide you with a tool to initiate calmness. 


Improve your self-awareness skills


Learning about your emotions and how to stay calm is the first step to building emotional intelligence. The second is learning how to connect with, and how you react to, your emotions. Our experience with our emotions stems from our childhood. If your primary caregiver understood and valued your emotions then you will likely have a good relationship with your emotions. If not then you may be someone who distances yourself from your emotions. Being able to connect with and understand your changing emotions will assist you in using your emotions to influence your actions. To become more emotionally intelligent, you need to be comfortable with feeling all emotions. 

Practicing mindfulness will help you in this area and will allow you to stay in the present moment. The more you practice the easier it will become. The better you get at staying present the more you will be able to activate it during a stressful time. Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment without judgment. This helps shift your preoccupation with thought towards an appreciation of the moment and brings a larger perspective on life. Mindfulness practice calms and focuses you and makes you more self-aware in the process.


Improve your social awareness skills


Social awareness allows you to interpret the non-verbal cues provided by other people. It is these cues that tell you how other people are feeling. The better you get at this, the more reactive you can become in situations. You will also become more empathetic and comfortable in social situations. 

To become better at these skills, you need to socialise with other people and practice. You need to stay present and watch for the non-verbal cues. If you zone out of conversations you will miss the cues. Try and focus on the interaction itself and converse with people. Becoming interested in others and their feelings will help you learn social awareness skills. Investing the time into others will also help gain you insight into your own emotional state. For example, you will identify your feelings about the topics discussed. 


Improve your relationship management skills


Relationship management is a process which considers how you personally interact with others. It is about understanding yourself, others and the interaction. As you build your skills you will develop an increased understanding on how these interactions affect you and others. Increasing your awareness of yourself will help you understand others better. Also becoming better at managing conflict is key to building relationships. There are no two people who have the same needs, expectations or values at all times. Learning how to manage these conflicts creates trust, freedom and safety. 

It’s really worthwhile taking some time to assess and improve your EQ, by working out your natural baseline, and focusing on any areas that you feel need improvement. For more information and useful articles, head over to our website. 

With warmest wishes, 


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