The words ‘emotional intelligence’ has risen in popularity. However, emotional intelligence (EQ) is often wrongly defined on social media and in popular usage. The psychological definition provided by Health Guide states emotional intelligence as “the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.”
Emotional intelligence is not measured by managing other people’s emotions. Unfortunately, widespread usage often displaces personal accountability measured in EQ and asks the greater community to identify and act in accordance with other people’s emotions. This widespread misunderstanding lacks personal responsibility to understand one’s inner world and act in accordance.
Students who develop emotional intelligence will have an easier time navigating personal and professional relationships while better understanding themselves. Let’s explore the four pillars of emotional intelligence and how you can develop them to navigate life as a student better.
Many of us would be surprised how few emotions we can name. Increasing your emotional vocabulary can help us identify your range of feelings, their depth, and any emotional patterns that arise.
It may be helpful to consult the ‘emotions wheel,’ a tool often used in therapy to help patients verbalize their feelings and become emotionally literate. The emotions wheel names eight primary emotions:
Secondary emotions are responses to our primary emotions like shame, anxiety, loneliness, confidence, or peace. There are many more emotions, and each wheel is represented differently based on different psychologists’ interpretations, but it boils down to the same thing. Increasing our understanding of our emotions and our responses to those emotions will help us understand our true feelings, thoughts, and patterns.
Self-regulation refers to regulating responses to outside situations and stimuli. Our ability to self-soothe and be self-compassionate can greatly affect how we react during stress, surprise, and emotionally turbulent circumstances.
It is not our nature to pause before responding to people, places, and things. Yet, self-regulation asks us to do just that. In order to act from a place of authenticity, it is important to pause to understand how you feel instead of reacting.
A daily meditation habit can help increase the time between stimuli and reactions. When we make a habit of slowing down and tuning in to our emotions, we become less affected by outside stressors. Meditations apps like Calm or Head Space offer meditations short and long to help you name, feel, and move through big emotions, so they don’t get the best of you when under pressure.
Social awareness calls on our empathetic responses to others. This pillar cultivates more feelings of empathy by becoming service-oriented, like being helpful to those around you, contributing to a group or organization in which you are involved, developing listening skills, and increasing organizational awareness.
To increase social awareness as a student, engaging with your community in a way that aligns with your values is important. For example, if you value academic investment, you can increase social awareness in this area by leading a group discussion or becoming a project manager. Likewise, if you value compassion, you will engage in community drives, and acts of service often offered on campus.
Relational management is defined by your influence and inspiration to those in your community and close circle. Relationships often require conflict and resolution skills, teamwork, collaboration, negotiation, articulating thoughts and feelings, and becoming a good mentor or role model.
How do we develop these skills to manage our personal and professional relationships? Students might find therapy with a clinical psychologist beneficial; likewise, students are also in a great position to learn on campus. Finally, they may want to start an online master’s degree in social work after learning more about relational management.
Likewise, there are many books on increasing relational awareness and becoming an effective communicator.
Self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship management are key pillars to building up your emotional intelligence. While it may seem like a lot of work to raise your EQ, most of these practices and ideas overlap. Overall, it is an investment in yourself to become more emotionally intelligent.