I am Anubhav Sangram, a 34-year-old hotel manager. Recently, I was surfing the net and came across a psychological test for emotional intelligence. I answered the questions and I was surprised to know that I was emotionally lagging behind. I am very confused about this and would like you to elaborate on the concept of emotional intelligence.
The human brain has two minds and two different kinds of intelligence – rational and emotional. These two fundamentally different forms of minds interact to constitute our mental life. They operate in tandem for the most part – emotion contributes to and informs the operations of the rational mind, the rational mind refines and sometimes vetoes the input of the emotions. When these partners interact well, both emotional intelligence and intellectual ability are enhanced. There is at best a slight correlation between I.Q. and certain facets of emotional intelligence, small enough to make it clear that these are largely independent entities. When people with high I.Q. flounder in life, and those with modest I.Q. do surprisingly well, the difference may be attributable to emotional intelligence. However, those with an extremely high I.Q. but low emotional intelligence – or low I.Q. and extremely high emotional intelligence are relatively rare. To be emotionally intelligent is to have the personal skills that characterize a rich and balanced personality. Emotional intelligence includes the rare ability “to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way.” It is crucial for the handling of relationships. These abilities are learned throughout life, with primary learning occurring during childhood. The manner in which parents treat a child – with harsh discipline or empathy, with indifference or warmth, and so on has deep and lasting consequences for the child’s emotional life. The ways parents handle emotions between them – in addition to their direct dealings with a child – impart powerful lessons to their children, who are astute learners attuned to the subtlest emotional exchanges in the family. All the small interactions between parent and child have an emotional subtext; the repetition of these messages over the years forms the core of a child’s emotional outlook and capabilities. These interchanges mold the child’s emotional expectations about relationships, which will influence emotional functioning in all realms of life for better or worse. The risks are greatest for children whose parents are grossly inept – immature, abusing alcohol, depressed, continuously angry, or simply aimless and living chaotic lives. Such parents are far less likely to give adequate care, let alone to address their childrens’ emotional needs. Parents modify their childrens’ reactions with emotional coaching like talking to the children about their feelings and how to understand them, adopting an uncritical and nonjudgmental stance, helping children to solve emotional predicaments, and offering constructive alternatives to hitting and sulking behaviors. Children of parents who do this well are able to have fewer episodes of tantrums and impulsivity. The parents can emphasize on teaching how to manage emotions; realizing what is behind a feeling (e.g. the hurt that triggers anger) and learning how to manage anxieties, anger and sadness. Taking responsibility for decisions and actions, and following through on commitments, is also emphasized. A key element is respect differences in how people feel about things. Relationships are a major focus, including learning to be a good listener and question-asker; distinguishing between what someone else says or does and one’s own reactions and judgments; being assertive rather than angry or passive; and learning the arts of cooperation, conflict resolution, and compromise negotiation. Simple neglect can be more harmful than outright abuse. Maltreated children and neglected youngsters fare the worst of all – they tend to be the most anxious, inattentive and apathetic, alternatively aggressive and withdrawn. Emotional competence may be decisive in determining the extent to which any given child succumbs to the hardships of life or responds to them with a core of resilience and thrives despite the odds. Those who survive the most severe hardships tend to share key emotional skills including social adeptness that draws people towards them, self-confidence, persistence, optimism, resilience in the face of upsets, and an easy going nature. Those who fail to master the competencies of emotional intelligence face heightened risks of failure in interpersonal interactions. The components of emotional intelligence include self-awareness, managing emotions, motivating oneself, recognizing emotions in others and handling relationships. The ability to monitor feelings from moment to moment is the key to self-understanding. It also makes you more confident when making important personal decisions. The ability to modulate negative emotions such as anger is a crucial emotional skill. Emotional resilience helps you to prevail over life’s inevitable setbacks and upsets; those who lack emotional self-regulation are continually besieged by feelings of distress. Emotional self-control like delaying gratification is crucial in working towards life goals. Individuals who can harness their emotions and maintain hope and optimism despite frustration are generally more productive and effective in their undertakings. You also need to be well attuned to subtle social cues that indicate what others feel to be more successful in personal and professional relations. You may have a profile of differing abilities in each of these areas like being masterful at managing anger but inept at soothing someone else’s upsets. The hallmarks of emotional intelligence are self-assurance, optimism and social poise. Emotionally intelligent individuals have superior self-control and ability to motivate themselves. Life is meaningful for them; they are principled and responsible. They manage and express emotions appropriately, being assertive but sympathetic and caring in relationships. Their emotional life is rich but balanced; they are comfortable with themselves, others, and the social universe they live in. They manage stress without undue worry. They tend to be gregarious, spontaneous, playful and open to sensual experience.