Shape your emotional intelligence | Zdrowie monthly

Article No. 4, Zdrowie monthly

Without it, it would be difficult to communicate, solve problems, and maintain mental balance. Emotional intelligence facilitates functioning, allows you to exceed your own limits. We can develop it throughout our lives.

Fear in the face of danger, anger when we fail, bliss when someone hugs us – these are some of the most primal and simple emotions. In response to what happens to us, their entire spectrum is born, which we express in various ways. The ability to accurately recognize and understand emotions in oneself and in others, but also the ability to consciously use them in action and control them – this is emotional intelligence. Someone who is emotionally intelligent will not only know that they are afraid (or that someone else is afraid), but will also understand why they are afraid, and then find a way to control their fear (their own or someone else’s) and redirect their mind to a different, positive one. an emotion that will enable action to eliminate the source of fear.

Benefit package

Experts assume that success in life is determined by the intelligence quotient only in 20%, and in 80% other variables, both independent of us (social status, access to education) and developed, as is the case with empathy, changing conditions and cooperation skills. Research has shown that children whose emotional development was taken care of in the first years of life achieve better academic results, have higher self-esteem, show less behavior problems and self-destructive actions, because they are better able to take care of their needs. They also see the needs of others, know how to share, and establish relationships more easily. As adults, they cope better in life, because the extent to which a person has a developed emotional intelligence affects their everyday behavior: how they react to situations, how they understand other people, how they relieve stress and negative emotions. The ability to recognize and understand emotions as well as manage them can serve as a tool for working on your own development. Emotional intelligence supports creativity, helps to cope with failures and deal with stress, with a crisis in a relationship. It also has a positive effect on group work: it helps managers to manage a team, and employees – effective cooperation. Therefore, it belongs to the so-called soft skills, valued more and more in the work environment. Even the most substantively prepared employee, with a high IQ, without developed emotional intelligence, will not be able to satisfactorily use his “hard” competences: knowledge, education, and professional experience.

Four components

It is worth emphasizing that emotional intelligence is not only empathy with which it is often equated, but also the broadly understood ability to manage emotions. It is helped by developing four components of emotional intelligence: recognizing emotions in oneself and others, understanding emotions, using emotions and regulating them effectively.

Recognizing emotions and expressing

It is the ability to identify emotions in your own body, feelings and thoughts (joy, shame, regret, excitement …), picking up the signals that the body transmits to us (do we feel energized or relaxed, emotion causes pain, heartbeat, pleasure?). It is also the ability to recognize emotions that others feel by processing non-verbal information such as facial expressions, voice and body language. It also allows you to read emotions contained in works of art, e.g. by interpreting the sounds of music or the appearance of a sculpture. We learn to recognize emotions from the earliest childhood; most of us read body language and facial expressions on a subconscious level.

Understanding emotions

Generally speaking, deciphering what caused a given emotion in me (others) and what is its meaning (someone’s anger, expressed through aggression, may have various sources and meanings, e.g. due to frustration, a sense of threat or powerlessness) ). It is also the ability to understand complex feelings, such as love, jealousy, contempt, and the ability to predict possible emotional states (when I leave my partner, he will despair).

Using emotions

It is the ability to consciously use them in solving problems, to subordinate them to chosen goals, the ability to use mood to change an individual’s perspective. An example may be a difficult task, e.g. a performance of a novice actor, preparation of an important project at work. The anxiety it evokes can be turned, for example, into pride that we have been entrusted with a responsible task, or into the joyful anticipation that we feel when we imagine the promised promotion or applause that reward our efforts. Emotions can also be used as a memory enhancer in the learning process – it is known that learning comes easier when it is associated with positive emotions, e.g. when children learn while playing, when a topic is interesting for us, or by acquiring a skill and benefits.

Regulated emotions

It is different from the ability to be open to pleasant and unpleasant emotions, the ability to experience emotions adequately to the situation and show emotions while consciously monitoring and controlling them (e.g. controlling anger during a quarrel). It is also the ability to control one’s own and other people’s emotions by moderating negative emotions and reinforcing pleasant ones, without suppressing or overestimating information at the same time (e.g. when a doctor tells the patient: greatly increases the chance of a cure). Emotional intelligence is the mental trait that develops most intensively in the first years of life. During this period, the most effective way of reacting to unpleasant or difficult events can be formed; Parents, guardians and educators play a significant role here. However, it is not a foregone conclusion that we must be satisfied with the level of emotional intelligence developed in childhood. We can work on the development of its components all the time, regardless of age.

Five-step strategy
Describe the situation or problem in a few sentences. After a hard day at work, during which my employer accused me of lack of results, I return home. My husband and two young children are waiting for me. The only thing I dream about is peace and relaxation. I go home and there is a mess, children run and scream, and my husband is lost in his smartphone. I get mad, scream from the threshold. The children start crying, my husband starts screaming at me, and one big quarrel begins.
By examining the face, tone of voice, body language, behavior, context, identify the emotions felt by each person. My emotions: surprise, irritation, anger, rage. Children’s emotions: fear. Husband’s emotions: surprise, surprise, irritation, anger, rage.
Analyze each emotion by answering the following questions: In which group of emotions is my emotion? How intense is it? (on a five-point scale). What caused this emotion? How did emotions influence actions and interactions with other people? What are the needs or meaning expressed by each emotion? My emotions: red, group of emotions anger +5; my expectation that there will be peace when I return home; my behavior has put others in an unpleasant mood; the need for support and understanding, confirmation that I am a good employee. Children’s emotions: red, fear emotion group +5; great surprise and surprise that my mother is screaming, even though they did nothing but had a great time; mum’s behavior caused them strong unpleasant emotions; need for security. Husband’s emotions: red, anger +5; great surprise and surprise that you burst into the house like crazy and yell at everyone, despite the fact that each of the residents had a good time; my behavior made my husband feel very unpleasant; need for peace.
Set goals, i.e. what mood you want to achieve with yourself and others, or define the way in which the problem is to be solved, which you need to change. Me: I want to calm down and relax (green); I need to take a few deep breaths, go to another room for a moment and calm down. Children: I want them to calm down and receive support (green). Husband: I want him to calm down and relax (green).
Create certain behavior to change the situation or ease the conflict. Choose one of the ready-made strategies for regulating emotions or create your own strategy. When I calm down, I will go back to my family and apologize to them for my behavior, I will hug the children tightly, I will explain to them what emotion I felt, I will tell them why I felt this way, and when they go to sleep I will talk to my husband and explain the situation to him, ask for help and support.

Marzena Martyniak
psychologist, specialist in the field of emotional intelligence development, associate partner of the International Society for Emotional Intelligence (ISEI). Author of the Polish version of SEL (social emotional learning) and the Land of Emotions educational program.

Editorial work: Joanna Anczura