By Florence Olajumoke Williams
In life, when people talk about intelligence, they often limit it to cognitive or academic intelligence characterized by tests of Intelligence quotient (IQ). This has been the bane of our educational system wherein once a child isn’t book-smart, he/she is immediately boxed into a corner as dull, retarded and of no use. But studies have shown that the brain isn’t a one-way street and intelligence isn’t measured by cognitive prowess alone. Psychologists have argued that there are seven types of intelligence:
Linguistic intelligence; characterized by a greater ability to express yourself well both verbally and in writing. A person with linguistic intelligence has very strong awareness and an ability to easily understand the viewpoint of others.
Logical intelligence; characterized by prowess in mathematics and logic, strong problem-solving ability.
Kinaesthetic intelligence; characterized by ease of bodily expression. This manifests in strong coordination and motor skills usually demonstrated by Olympics and high-performance athletes.
Spatial Intelligence; characterized by a heightened ability to create, imagine and draw 2D and 3D images. Members of this group can imagine, create and see things that others consider impossible.
Musical Intelligence; characterized by the ability to listen to sound and music and identify different patterns and notes with ease.
Interpersonal intelligence; characterized by the ability to listen and speak but above all, know how to apply the knowledge and power to influence people.
Intrapersonal intelligence; characterized by being deeply connected with oneself.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a cross of interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. It measures our ability to perceive our own emotions, as well as the emotions of others, and to manage them in a productive and healthy way.
EQ is fundamental to life experiences and can influence how successful we are in our relationships and careers. Whatever stage of life you’re at, it is important to improve your Emotional Intelligence and develop your self-awareness and empathy.
Harvard theorist, Howard Garner submitted that “your EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them.”
Being in touch with your feelings allows you to manage stress levels and communicate effectively with other people, two skills that enhance your life both personally and professionally. Unlike IQ, which remains constant throughout your life, EQ can be developed and honed over time.
So what are the ways you can improve your emotional intelligence so as to maintain growth and harmony?
- Hone your self-awareness skill: Practice observing how you feel and/or react to different situations at every point in time. Always make a self-assessment at the end of a day, an activity or a period.
In trying to meet up with deadlines, commitments and other external duties, we tend to lose touch with our emotions which leads to acting unconsciously, thus, missing out on valuable bits of information that are linked to our emotions.
Whenever you ignore your feelings, you’re ignoring an important piece of information that has a big effect on your mindset and the way you behave. Start paying more attention to your feelings and connecting them to experiences.
As an exercise, note your emotions at certain times every day. What are your first emotions upon waking? Your last before you fall asleep? When you are cut off at a meeting? Or set a timer for various times of the day and note your emotion at the times the timer goes off.
- Study the link between your emotions and behaviour:
Note how you act when you are experiencing a certain emotion and how it impacts your day-to-day life – communication with others, productivity and overall sense of being.
The more you understand what triggers your behavioural impulses, the higher your EQ gets. But, as you get better at analyzing the connection between your emotions and behavioural pattern, be careful not to fall into the trap of judging yourself by attaching labels to your behaviours. This will only make you less likely, to be honest with yourself in future analysis.
- Note Patterns in your emotional history:
This is another step in developing a great knowledge of your feelings and how they are connected to your experiences. Whenever you experience a strong emotion, ask yourself when was the last time you experienced such an emotion? What led to it? What was the aftermath?
Once you can establish and understand patterns in your emotions, you will be able to properly manage them and exert more control over your behaviour and reactions.
- Practise deciding how to behave
You might not be able to control what emotion is triggered by certain stimuli but you can decide how to respond to it. Instead of letting your emotions overwhelm you, decide how you’re going to behave next time your feelings grow strong.
The difference between responding and reacting is a fine line. While reacting is a spontaneous, unconscious process whereby, after experiencing an emotion trigger, you behave in an unconscious way that expresses or relieves that emotion (e.g. lashing out at someone that interrupts you), responding is a conscious process that involves noticing how you feel, deliberating on it and deciding how you let the emotion out (e.g. expressing to the person that you’re irritated, why it isn’t the right time and how to do it better next time)
- Practise Empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand others’ realities and experiences without necessarily having gone through the same. It entails understanding why someone feels or behaves in a certain way and being able to communicate that understanding to them.
You can start by practising with yourself. When you notice yourself feeling or behaving in a certain way, ask “Why do I think I’m feeling like/doing this?” At first, your response might be “I don’t know,” but keep paying attention to your feelings and behaviour, and you’ll start to notice different answers coming through.
- Build a positive environment around you
Aura comes from the inside out. Creating a general air of positivity around you will not only improve your quality of life but also communicate your kind of person better to others. Take responsibility for your emotions and behaviours; do not attempt to explain them away or blame them on others. Be open-minded and agreeable.
When your mind is open through understanding and internal reflection, it becomes easier to deal with conflicts in a calm and self-assured manner. You will find yourself socially aware and new possibilities will be open to you.
Remember, no matter the circumstance, always aim to radiate positive vibes only!