Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand and manage your emotions. Learn the importance of high EI and how to regulate emotions for better mental well-being.
Most of us take for granted our day-to-day awareness and dealings with emotions, in both ourselves and other people. We know it is part of the human experience, but we don’t really pay attention to how well we understand and manage our own and others’ emotions, and how much this helps us in our daily functioning.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to use emotional information to help us live better lives. Emotionally intelligent people know how to recognise, use, understand and regulate emotions. For example, an emotionally intelligent person would recognise when he/she feels angry and wait to calm down and work on their emotional awareness before speaking.
An emotionally intelligent person (someone with high EI) is simply a person who is “smart” in the following four key areas:
Emotionally intelligent people can identify and differentiate between different emotions and use that information to make effective decisions and take appropriate action. Emotions are a fundamental part of the human experience and everyday life; increasing your knowledge and understanding of emotions can impact other major areas of life, including work-life, relationships, and physical health.
Emotional intelligence is both an ability you are born with, as well as a skill that can be nurtured and improved upon. Increasing your emotional knowledge—learning how your emotions work—can improve your effectiveness in social situations, and in life. It takes some work and a lot of practice, but is well worth the effort.
When overwhelmed by stress, it is often difficult to think clearly and act effectively. Learn to recognise the early signs of stress and the different emotions you feel, then learn to de-stress quickly (e.g. take ten slow deep breaths or visualise a calming image, like a waterfall). The ability to stay calm and in control under difficult circumstances is a very important life skill for everyday life.
When we feel uncomfortable, we tend to avoid the discomfort by distracting ourselves. Instead, try to stay open-minded with the uncomfortable feelings, and explore them—they may be trying to tell you something important.
Since we sometimes experience complex mixes of emotions, our feelings may not seem to make sense. When you write down what you think and how you feel, you may get a clearer picture of what is going on in your life.
If you make a mistake, do something wrong, or hurt someone’s feelings, apologise. People are usually more forgiving when you try to correct things, instead of just ignoring them. Apologies can go a long way towards repairing hurt and confused feelings and enhancing your relationships in the long-term.
Effective communication involves more than just verbal and social skills. How you say something can be just as important as what you say. Learn to strengthen your relationships by practicing emotional awareness. Observe your body language and other people’s body language (e.g. eye contact, hand gestures, and posture). When you effectively communicate nonverbally, you convey understanding and acceptance of other people’s feelings without using words.
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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