What is Emotional Intelligence and can you increase it?

The origin of the term emotional intelligence (EI) became popular in 1995 in a book published by Daniel Goleman. Primarily, EI is described as how we relate to others and our ability to understand emotion, our ability to manage our own emotions, our ability to perceive emotion (feelings) and the skill to reason using emotions. Another description of emotional intelligence focuses on describing five central themes, our own ability to be self-aware, regulate our own emotions, the ability to motivate ourselves, having social awareness and having social interaction skills.

 Some examples of how emotional intelligence is seen or displayed in oneself or others are:

  • Understanding the underlying emotion (feelings) of a communication from a colleague and responding to that effectively, not just to the stated request
  • The ability to listen actively and intently to what is being said by a friend, family member or coworker by  attention to the such cues as voice tone, facial expressions, body language and other non-verbal cues
  • The skill to manage our own emotional reactions such as anger, frustration, excitement and sadness in situations
  • Sensing and seeing the emotional impact of our communication on others

What are steps to improving one’s EI?

Most research supports EI can be learned and improved! Most often, experts on EI suggest starting by stopping and thinking about how one feels at a given moment during different parts of the day, and then beginning to observe and take note of what you perceive are the emotions of those around you.  In addition, here are a few tips to practice each day:

  • Practice active & focused listening, which is paying attention to what they are saying both factually and emotionally and reflecting what you heard to them first
  • Ask and inquire about others’ feelings and emotions
  • Pay attention to non-verbal communication and note if it is different than the words another party is using
  • Make notes of your own feelings and write them down to emails and communications  you receive
  • Seek feedback from others on how they perceive you

If you would like to discuss and explore improving your own emotional intelligence the professional counselors of FASAP are available to meet with you. Services are confidential and free of charge. Call 936-8660 or email fasap@umich.edu.