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Emotional Intelligence - what is it and can it really help?
What is emotional intelligence?
One way to look at EI is to see it is as the ability to perceive the emotional content in communication or behind communication.
By the way, as the author of this hub, I'm in no way suggesting I'm an expert and this hub is a purely personal perspective!
Moreover, I tend to think that to use emotional intelligence all the time might actually be undesireable as you will focus on the "why" rather than the "what" of conversation.
Let's consider what is NOT emotional intelligence.
If we are looking for what emotional intelligence is NOT we might suggest rational thinking where the mind is engaged but not the heart. Emotional intelligence is more about our social interaction with others - emotions, respect, entertainment, understanding why someone is saying what he or she is saying or why he or she is behaving in a particular way.
Rational thinking or reasoning is purely logical with no regard for emotions. The logical mind is engaged with the literal meaning or the "what" rather than the "why" of communication.
So how well do you understand other people's motives,feelings, desires, and fears? To what extent have you developed the ability to understand this underlying content of your communications with others?
Should we prioritize this level of consciousness and why?
Peter F. Drucker "The most important thing in communication is to hear what is not being said."
Developing this skill can be useful as you begin to look beyond the literal meaning of the words that are being expressed by those you converse with.
For example, a person at your workplace may continually answer you as if you are trying to control them. This becomes a significant response which reveals that person's history. Perhaps, in childhood the person you are trying to work with was repeatedly humiliated or felt little self-worth or had little control over what happened to them.
This has made your work colleague oversensitive to anything that has the faintest hint of not allowing that person self-determination.
"We see things not as they are but as we are" said Anais Nin, which can mean that the stage is set in someone's head and if we happen to communicate with that person we might find ourselves typecast as a figure on that stage whether wee like it or not.
This typecast may not actually conform to who we are and hence we find ourselves on the receiving end of that person's personal history.
If you develop EI you begin to discern the play of childhood and life experiences and fears others have and the need to resolve these in the communication.
Addressing these underlying emotional issues may be imperative to effective communication.
It can also have positive outcomes for your communication with others and their belief systems but it might sometimes also tie you up in situations you rationally would simply walk away from.
As with all things we need to find a balance and weigh things up without being disrespectful to ourselves or others.
It is not always going to be easy to keep your emotional radar at the forefront of your consciousness as your own needs will come into play. And so they ought otherwise you might end up fatigued and frustrated over how tied up you might get servicing the emotional needs of others.
However, by pursuing this side of the communication equation, you might be more aware of why others are behaving as they do and you might actually get more of the outcomes you desire.
You might also find you avoid a great deal of conflict in communication with others as you begin to find the clues for why a person is behaving as they do.