Written by Mitch McCrimmon, Ph.D.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage our emotions and those of others. The first step is to understand how our own emotions affect how we think and act. Also vital to understand how our emotions affect others. How can you become more aware of other people's emotions, what impact they have on how they behave and on how we feel?
It's important not to suppress feelings. Understand, support and channel emotions as productively as possible.
We think we are aware of our feelings, personal traits, strengths and weaknesses, but we are actually more aware of our failings than our good points. Why? Because the good we do comes naturally for us so we take it for granted and discount it by saying it was nothing or that surely everyone does that.
You can't manage how you feel about things unless you are fully aware of both sides of yourself - good and not so good. Some people over emphasize their bad points and others are so good at defending themselves, without realizing it that they are always in denial.
Understanding our emotions
Are you an emotional person?
- Do you take this question to mean: Do you get upset easily?
- Why do you assume that emotions are negative?
- What positive emotions do you express? Excitement? Enthusiasm? Elation? Happiness?
- What's the difference between a mood and an emotion?
- Emotions are outbursts. Moods are longer lasting - like feeling up or down.
- It's not healthy to suppress negative emotions.
- Better to avoid them, such as angry outbursts by reducing stress levels, taking yourself less seriously or changing your attitude towards upsetting things.
- How aware are you of how your moods affect your decisions?
- We like to think we are rational, but we make quite different decisions if we are in a good mood than a bad mood.
- What rash decisions have you made lately, either when you were feeling particularly bad or especially good?
- How often do you take steps to counter the effect of your moods on your actions?
- When angry, do you postpone acting until you cool down, for instance?
- How aware are you of the impact of your moods and emotions on others?
- Are they strongly affected but successful in hiding it from you?
- How do your moods and emotions boost or undermine the morale of those around you?
- If you don't know the answers to these questions, then, like most of us, your emotional intelligence might benefit from a little developmental fine-tuning.