“Anybody can become angry- that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way- that is not within everybody’s power, and is not easy” Aristotle
The idea of emotional intelligence was first proposed in the early 1990s by researchers Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer. They defined the term as “a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action”. Their research alongside the work of others created a multilayered composition of EI.
Emotional intelligence consists of several elements:
- Self-awareness: Realizing our own emotions and reactions
- Self-management: Managing our emotions and responses
- Motivation: Using our emotions to achieve our goals
- Social awareness (empathy): Recognizing the feelings of others
- Social skills: Connecting more effectively with others
Before emotional intelligence gained its recent popularity, it was primarily discussed as a key trait in successful managers. Now it is evident that emotional intelligence is an important attribute in all levels of the organization: managers and employees. Since employers have taken hold of emotional intelligence it is becoming integrated into the workplace, even as early as job interviewing. Questions that give a view of our emotional intelligence can be worded such as:
1. Describe a workplace conflict you were involved in and how it was resolved.
2. Who inspires you? Why?
3. Did you build lasting friendships in a previous job position?
Being cognizant of our emotions is a skill needed not only in the workplace setting, but can be helpful in personal, non-job-related aspects of our lives. These are some ways that you can develop and increase your emotional intelligence:
- Respond instead of reacting. Emotions are reactions we experience. From a biological viewpoint they induce physiological reactions within us, such as adrenaline and increased heart rate. Thus, in high emotional situations, reacting (which signifies the absence of mental processing) can turn a conflictive situation more adversative. Though, responding (which signifies processing the situation) and assessing without reacting can allow for an inflammatory situation to be discharged.
- Think before you speak. Whether from parents or teachers, as children growing up we have heard this phrase. Unbeknownst to us, they were instilling a fundamental part of emotional intelligence. If you find yourself in an argument or conflict take a few seconds to pause before you say something you may regret.
- Exercise Self-control. In life we can experience situations that may be out of our control. However, what we can control is how we respond to them.
“The emotional brain responds to an event more quickly than the thinking brain.” Daniel Goleman
I’m a Christian and the Bible is full of advice that is applicable to our emotions and resolving conflict. A verse that I believe exemplifies the idea of emotional intelligence is James 1:19 “Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger”. This means being a thoughtful listener by hearing both sides of a conflict before proceeding, choosing your words carefully, and being patient with others. Experiencing emotions such as anger or disappointment are universal but being able to control them can benefit ourselves and others.
--- Kalifa Stringfield
Kalifa Stringfield is a Masters student in the College of Engineering