Emotional Intelligence Explained: and why it's important for children and adults

Emotional intelligence, also referred to as EQ (Emotional Quotient) or EI (Emotional Intelligence), is the capacity to recognize and manage our own feelings and to recognize and respond effectively to others feelings.

Above, is a model of emotional intelligence by science journalist, Daniel Goleman. Goleman is also co-founder of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (www.casel.org), currently co-directs the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations (www.eiconsortium.org) at Rutgers University, and author of the very popular book, Emotional Intelligence (1995). Goleman's most recent model for emotional intelligence (pictured above), includes: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

Self-Awareness- Simply put, self-awareness is our basic understanding of how we feel and why we feel that way. The more we are aware of our feelings the better we can manage and respond to our feelings and to others around us.

Self-Management- Self-management can also be referred to as, self regulation. It is the ability to manage our own actions, thoughts, and feelings in flexible ways and achieve desired results. Self-regulation contributes to our self-confidence, sense of connectedness, and our own sense of well-being.

Social-Awareness- This is our ability to accurately ‘read’ the emotions of others; their face, voice & behaviors. This is where we learn to show empathy for others, being able to sense what they are thinking and feeling and taking on their perspective. This help us understand how to respond to others.

Relationship Management- This piece pulls together the other three quadrant pieces. This is when we have the ability to take our own emotions and the emotions of others, to manage our social interactions successfully. (Wow! That’s a lot!) Relationship management can also be used to influence others with good decision making. Also, listening and empathizing with others and helping them deal with conflict- I call this being a “peacemaker”.

Hopefully you have a greater understanding of emotional intelligence - now more on why emotional intelligence is so important in lives our children and adults.

Tremendous amounts of scientific research has been done on EI. We know from these emotional scientists that academic success is not the greatest predictor of success, in fact emotional intelligence is even more important of a predictor. According to research published by the American Psychological Association -

“Although we know that high intelligence and a conscientious personality are the most important psychological traits necessary for academic success, our research highlights a third factor, emotional intelligence, that may also help students succeed. It’s not enough to be smart and hardworking. Students must also be able to understand and manage their emotions to succeed at school,” said Carolyn MacCann, PhD, lead author of the study out of the University of Sydney.

I will venture to guess that you know someone who is extremely bright academically, yet their social skills are not very strong. One's intellectual ability or intelligence quotient (IQ) isn’t enough on its own to achieve success in life. Our IQ can definitely help us achieve and get into college, but it’s our EI/EQ that will help us manage the stress and emotions during those late night study sessions and final exams. We are most effective when our IQ and EQ work in tandem.

Here are the important areas in our lives where emotional intelligence matters!

Performance at school and work. For this I turn to EI guru, Dr. Marc Brackett, founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, professor in the Child Study Center, author of my favorite book, Permission to Feel, along with numerous scholarly articles. 

Dr. Brackett states,“Emotions matter. You just have to have that lens that how kids and adults feel in our schools is critically important to their success. If we strictly focus on how they think and what they can do cognitively, we’re missing a tremendous amount of information."

In his book, Permission to Feel, Brackett writes, “The three most important aspects of learning — attention, focus, and memory — are all controlled by our emotions, not by cognition.”

High emotional intelligence can help us navigate the social complexities at school and work. EI can help us excel, lead and motivate others. Nowadays, when it comes to gauging top job candidates, many companies rate emotional intelligence as important as technical ability - some even implement EQ testing before hiring.

Mental Health. When we lack abilities in taking control of our emotions and stress levels, our mental health can be greatly impacted, making us more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. If we are unable to understand, get comfortable with, or manage our emotions, we may struggle to form strong relationships - leaving us feeling lonely and isolated, further exacerbating any mental health problems.

Physical Health. If you have difficulties in managing your emotions, you may have trouble managing your stress. This can lead to physical health concerns such as, high blood pressure, suppressed immune system, and increased risks for heart attacks and strokes. Improving emotional intelligence is a great way to manage stress.

Relationships. Understanding our emotions and taking control of them, helps us express how we feel and understand how others feel. This allows us to communicate more effectively and create stronger social relationships in school, work, and personal life.

Social Intelligence. Understanding how our own emotions serve a social purpose - our connection to people and the world around us. It helps us recognize people as our friends and those that are not, gauge another person's interest in us, and aids in social communication.

This is where my personal passion comes from in teaching these vital, lifelong skills to children from a young age. It's never too early (or too late) to begin learning and building emotional intelligence. You can order FeelLinks Set for children in your life today and get started!


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