EQ FOR IMPROVED RELATIONSHIPS
By Dr. Annie Pérez, Ph.D., MA, BSN, RN
Health Psychologist, Marriage and Family Counseling
FLC Director Women’s Ministries and Prayer Ministries
Have you ever been told you are insensitive or too direct with people? Do you prefer to talk rather than listen? Does conflict follow you? Are these questions annoying you? It could be due to low emotional intelligence. Do not despair; read on.
What is it?
Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and resolve conflict. EQ also allows you to recognize and understand what others are experiencing emotionally. EQ is a nonverbal process that informs your thinking and influences how well you connect with other people. In other words, being aware that emotions can affect our behavior and impact people around you positively and negatively. It is essential to learn how to manage those emotions – especially when we are under pressure.
Unlike intelligence quotient (IQ), which does not change significantly over a lifetime, our EQ can evolve and increase with our desire to learn and grow. EQ helps you build stronger relationships, succeed at school, work, home, and achieve your career and personal goals. Here are the four areas that influence your EQ:
1. Self-management – You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
2. Self-awareness – You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior. You know your strengths and weaknesses and have self-confidence.
3. Social awareness – You have empathy. You can understand other’s emotions, needs, and concerns, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
4. Relationship management – You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict. You may be asking, why is EQ important? As we know, it’s not always the most intelligent people that are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. You probably know academically brilliant people who are socially inept and unsuccessful at work or in their relationships. Your IQ isn’t enough on its own to be successful in life. Yes, your IQ can help you get into college, but it’s your EQ that will help you manage the stress and emotions when facing your final exams. IQ and EQ exist in conjunction and are most effective when they work with each other.
High emotional intelligence can help you navigate your workplace’s social difficulties, lead and motivate others, and excel in your home, school, and career. In fact, when it comes to evaluating important job candidates, many companies now view emotional intelligence as being as important as technical ability. Let’s take a look at how a low EQ can affect you.
How can EQ affect me? Having a low EQ can affect your physical and mental health, social life, and your relationships. The first step to improving emotional intelligence is learning how to manage stress. If you’re unable to manage your emotions, you probably are not managing your stress either. This mismanagement can lead to serious health problems. Uncontrolled stress can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of a heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process.
Uncontrolled emotions and stress can also impact your mental health, making you vulnerable to anxiety and depression. If you cannot understand, be comfortable with, or manage your emotions, you’ll also struggle to form healthy relationships. Having unhealthy relationships can leave you feeling lonely and isolated and further exacerbate any mental health problems. By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’re better able to express how you feel and understand how others are feeling. This allows you to communicate more effectively and build stronger relationships, both at work and in your personal life.
Being in tune with your emotions serves a social purpose, connecting you to other people and the world around you. Social awareness enables you to recognize friends from foe, measure another person’s interest, reduce stress, balance your nervous system through social communication, and feel loved and happy.
What can I do about it?
Here are four skills you can implement today to improve your EQ. The skills that make up emotional intelligence can be learned at any time. However, remember that there is a difference between merely learning about EQ and applying that knowledge to your life. To permanently change behavior in ways that stand up under pressure, you need to know how to overcome stress in the moment and in your relationships to remain emotionally aware.
1. Exercise self-management. In other words, think before you act. To improve your EQ, you must be able to use your emotions to make positive decisions about your behavior. When you become overly stressed, you can lose control of your feelings and the ability to act carefully and appropriately. Have a plan ready to use on how to react when facing a specific stressful situation. You’ll be able to make positive choices that allow you to control negative feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing situations.
2. Practice self-awareness. In other words, understand how your mood and emotions may impact you and other people. Your ability to manage primary feelings such as anger, sadness, fear, and joy often depends on the emotional experiences of your early life. If your emotional experiences as an infant were confusing, threatening, or painful, you probably don’t acknowledge painful emotions. Connecting to your feelings and being aware of how they’re affecting you and others is the key to understanding how emotions influence your thoughts and behaviors.
3. Apply social awareness. In other words, make friends by developing a rapport with them. In order to build social awareness, you need to be present in the moment to recognize subtle changes in verbal and nonverbal cues. Avoid multitasking, such as looking at your phone or watching TV. By doing so, you’ll miss the subtle emotional shifts taking place in other people that will help you understand them. Paying attention to others doesn’t diminish your self-awareness. By paying attention to others, you’ll gain insight into your own emotional state as well as your values and beliefs.
4. Develop relationship management. In other words, work well with others to understand what other people are experiencing. Recognizing the nonverbal messages that you send to others can play a considerable part in improving your relationships. Use healthy humor and have fun to relieve stress. Humor, laughter, and fun are natural antidotes to stress. Conflict and disagreements are inevitable in human relationships. Resolving conflict is healthy, and it can strengthen trust between people. Healthy conflict resolution can encourage openness, creativity, and safety in your relationships.
To improve your EQ, think before you act. Then, acknowledge and be aware of your emotions and how your feelings affect you and your loved ones. Follow it by decreasing your stress and be in the moment with your friends and family. Finally, try to put yourself in other people’s shoes and resolve conflicts in a healthy way. Practice these skills every day, and you’ll improve your emotional health and interactions with others.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)