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Emotional Intelligence - the key to better understand yourself and others

Emotions are complex reaction patterns involving distinct physiological responses, feelings, and behaviors that help individuals react to stimuli and navigate social interactions. They are an integral part of the human experience, influencing decision-making, relationships, and overall mental health (APA, 2018). The ability to understand and manage one's own emotions, as well as to recognize and empathize with the emotions of others, is referred to as Emotional Intelligence (EI) or Emotional Quotient (EQ). This skill includes controlling impulses, communicating effectively, and navigating social situations with ease (Landry, 2019).

Components of emotional intelligence

There are several key components of emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, empathy, and motivation (Landry, 2019).

• Self-awareness involves recognizing and understanding your own emotions and how they may impact your thoughts and actions.

• Self-regulation is the ability to control and manage your emotions, avoiding impulsive reactions.

• Social skills include the ability to communicate effectively and build strong relationships with others.

• Empathy is the capacity to understand and share the feelings of others.

• Finally, motivation involves being driven by passion and a desire to achieve your goals.

Emotional intelligence vs. Emotional literacy

Emotional literacy is the ability to recognize, understand, and express one's emotions and is often used in the same context as emotional intelligence. It involves having a vocabulary to describe emotions, being able to identify and label one's feelings, and being able to communicate them effectively to others. It is a foundational component for developing emotional intelligence because it contributes to its broader concept, such as self-awareness and emotional regulation. Without emotional literacy, it's challenging to develop these skills because the initial step — accurately identifying and understanding emotions — is missing. Emotional literacy can be therefore seen as the groundwork upon which emotional intelligence is built (Ninnivagi, 2022).

Why is emotional intelligence important?

Studies have shown that if you have high emotional intelligence, you may be more likely to have successful careers and relationships, and greater overall well-being. You are able to better manage negative emotions by recognizing emotional patterns and developing strategies for dealing with them. As a result, you have a better understanding of the relationship between your emotions and behavior, and, therefore, a better understanding of yourself. This may also help to resolve conflicts with greater ease due to self-awareness, empathy, and understanding of other people's perspectives and feelings thereby engaging in self-regulation and approaching the conflict in a calmer and more controlled manner (Coronado-Maldonado & Benítez-Márquez, 2023).

How to improve emotional intelligence

The foundation of emotional intelligence is being aware of your own emotions. So start by paying attention to how you feel in different situations, and take some time to think about why you're feeling that way and what might have triggered that emotional response. You may find it helpful to write this down. To do this, it's important to know how to put your feelings into words. This process is called "affect labeling”. It has been found that simply being able to name the emotions you're experiencing can help calm your feelings and bring relief, as it has been shown to decrease activity in parts of the brain associated with emotion generation and increase activity in parts of the brain associated with emotion regulation. So, when you become aware of an emotion rising in your body, try to identify and label it. This will help you express and regulate your own emotions and also understand the emotions of others.

Control your impulses. Learn to stop and think before you impulsively react to a situation. This can help you avoid reactions you may regret later. Practice dealing with conflict in a constructive and calm manner. Focus on finding solutions and understanding the underlying emotions driving the conflict by putting yourself in the other person's shoes

Improve your EI by learning from others. Practice active listening. Try to focus on what the speaker is saying, actively process it, and seek to understand the meaning and intent behind it. Active listening will help you connect with others and truly understand their thoughts and feelings, as well as strengthen your relationship by showing care about the other person.

Developing emotional intelligence is a lifelong journey, but the rewards are well worth the effort. By improving your EQ, you can better understand yourself and improve your relationships. Your emotions have their own stories to tell.


APA. (2018, April 19). APA Dictionary of Psychology. American Psychological Association.

Coronado-Maldonado, I., & Benítez-Márquez, M.-D. (2023). Emotional intelligence, leadership, and work teams: A hybrid literature review. Heliyon, 9(10), e20356.

Landry, L. (2019, April 3). Emotional Intelligence in Leadership: Why It’s Important. Business Insights Blog.

Ninnivagi, F. J. (2022, September 6). Emotional Knowing and Emotional Literacy | Psychology Today. Psychology Today.

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