By David Joel Miller.
Characteristics of emotional intelligence.
The whole concept of what intelligence is has changed over the decades. The idea of having an intelligence quotient or IQ was meant to be helpful in deciding how much someone was capable of learning. We thought if we knew exactly how smart they were, we might be able to help them learn better and faster. Knowing someone’s absolute IQ might also keep people from having an unrealistic expectation of people with an intellectual disability.
In practice, this concept has proved to have some problems. There is some question about written IQ tests and exactly what it is the are measuring or not measuring. It would appear that the thing we measure as an intelligence quotient may not be a single quality. Someone’s intelligence may, in fact, be made up of the number of separate intelligence’s, skills, that involve different abilities. Their abilities in each of the skill areas May be quite different.
Which brings us to the idea of emotional intelligence. I think we all have seen examples of people with a presumably high IQ and high educational levels, who lacked very much in the way of social skills. This has given rise to the idea that there may, in fact, be a thing called emotional intelligence, the ability to understand and read emotions which are quite separate from what we measure when we test for IQ.
Part of this belief that there is an emotional intelligence includes the concept that emotional intelligence requires development. Whether emotional intelligence is, in fact, an intelligence or more like a skill, there do appear to be some things you can do to increase your ability to recognize emotions in yourself and others.
If you’ve always felt at a disadvantage when it comes to recognizing and dealing with emotions, take a look at the list below of ways you might go about expanding your emotional skills.
Practice generosity to develop empathy.
Try giving without expecting anything in return. Generous people seem to be able to recognize what other people are feeling. If you give with the expectation of getting something back, this is all about you. Practicing acts of kindness can help you to understand what it would be like to be in that other person’s position.
Let it go. No anger or grudges.
Being able to let things go, reducing your anger, will improve your ability to recognize and identified emotions. Anger is such a powerful emotion that it blocks out everything else. When you hold onto your anger, you stay focused on yourself which prevents you developing an understanding of how others feel. When we look closely at anger, we often find pain and sadness hiding underneath it.
Be thankful and practice gratitude.
Practice being thankful for the things you have. Create a list of things you are grateful for. Your feelings vocabulary should include a lot of positive emotions. Learn to recognize when you are thankful or have things you could appreciate.
Acceptance of self and others.
Learning to accept yourself and see your positive qualities will increase your ability to see the good in others. People who see only the bad in others reduce their ability to recognize when others have positive emotions.
Keep life in balance.
People who maintain a proper life balance can feel what they feel when they feel it. Increasing your knowledge about your own feelings will help you to understand what others are feeling.
Be present where you are.
Learn to shift gears. Holding onto thoughts and feelings from another situation prevents you from fully participating in the situation you are in. The more you experience where you are, the more easily you will recognize appropriate emotions, both yours and others.
Be curious about everything.
Nurturing curiosity will result in you learning new things. Hold on to the childlike quality to want to know about everything. Maintaining a curious point of view opens you up to learning more. Be especially curious about feelings and how others experienced them.
Are you OK with change?
Can you adapt? People who resist change become fearful with the unfamiliar. Work on your acceptance of new experiences and people. Novel situations present the opportunity to learn about yourself about others and about the emotions these situations create.
You don’t need negative people.
Surrounding yourself with negative people drives away positive feelings. Emotionally intelligent people learn to recognize when others around them are needlessly and excessively negative. To become more emotionally intelligent, you need to get out of that negative space and experience some appropriate emotions.
You attract positive people.
People with high emotional intelligence can experience positive emotions and be happy. Happy people tend to attract other positive, happy people. Work on enlarging the number of positive feelings you can feel, and you will become a positive feelings expert.
You know and accept yourself.
Emotionally intelligent people can accept themselves and others. Feelings are not automatically good or bad in and of themselves. Feelings should be guides to experience. The more you know about yourself, the more you can correctly identify what you’re feeling when you were feeling it.
You don’t do things half-hearted.
To learn more about emotions, you need to live life. Don’t skim through your experiences, do what you do fully.
You can wait for what you want.
Develop the skill of patience. Don’t let yourself get carried away by your wants and desires. Cravings can come and go. Just because something seems important or desirable in the moment does not mean that is the best thing for you.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books