A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

{Proverbs 15:1-2}

Have you ever noticed how your emotions can either positively or negatively affect those around you? For example, you get home tired and flustered after a long day at the office and it does not take long before your whole household is miserable or walking on eggshells.

Our emotions can be powerful tools. They can drive us to acts of compassion, justice, and love when used positively. Emotional intelligence or EQ is the ability to be aware of and manage your own emotions and those around you. EQ is critical for everyday life and thus great value should be placed on developing one’s emotional intelligence.

Here are a few examples where EQ is important: Parenting, leadership, relationships, the workplace, the army

5 Components of EQ

  • Self-awareness- Being able to recognize your own emotions
  • Self-regulation- Controlling and managing your own emotions
  • Self-motivation- Having the initiative to work towards your goals
  • Empathy- Putting yourself in someone else’s position, paying attention to body language and responding to feelings.
  • Social skills- Managing relationships effectively

How to develop your emotional intelligence

Like every other skill, Emotional Intelligence can be developed. The first step is to recognize where your deficiencies lie.

You can build self-awareness by acknowledging and being in touch with your emotions and probing what you are thinking and feeling. A good way to start can be to name your emotions or feelings. For example, “I feel sad” or “I feel hungry.”

You can self-regulate by slowing down when your emotions are heightened. Determine not to react quickly before assessing a situation. For example, you hear that someone is spreading malicious lies about you. You naturally become agitated. Instead of calling the individual and engaging in a fighting match, you can choose to ignore it entirely or seek out the individual for a conversation when you are not upset.

You practice self-motivation by reviewing why you do what you do and why this motivates you. For example, remembering why you joined an organization or started your own business can help you to stay motivated through difficult periods.

You develop empathy by looking outside yourself and being in touch with the needs of others. For some, this could mean being present when your friends are going through difficult situations, asking questions that help you understand their circumstances better, and offering to help where needed.

You build your social skills by assessing how you interact with others. What assumptions and attitudes do you bring to your relationships? How are you communicating with those you lead?