You’ve probably heard of an IQ, before. You may have even taken a test to determine your own IQ. We’re often told that our IQ, or intelligence quotient, is a predictor of our future health and success. But what if it wasn’t?
In fact, it may actually be our EQ—emotional intelligence quotient—that better judges our capacity for success and good health. Not to be confused with charisma, emotional intelligence is the ability to read and understand our own emotions and those of the people around us, then use this awareness to manage our behavior and relationships. When our EQ is high, we are open and understanding. When it is low, we may come off as aloof or self-centered.
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In the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Drs. Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves take on the concept outlined in Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence, and expand upon it with an EQ test that readers can take, followed by strategies that can be used to recognize, develop, and refine your emotional intelligence.
The Four Components of Emotional Intelligence
Our EQ is made up of four parts. The first two involve our own emotions: Specifically, learning how to identify and then manage them. The other two take that knowledge and expand it to the emotions of others.
Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence. People who have a high self-awareness know themselves well. They know their strengths and weaknesses, what motivates them, and, conversely, what annoys them. People with low self-awareness have trouble identifying why they react to situations the way they do.
The best way to boost self-awareness is to observe yourself regularly and critically. Learn to identify your emotions and who or what causes them.
Once you’ve become self-aware, you can start practicing self-management. Self-management involves taking your observations and turning them into strategies that help you manage your behavior in a productive and positive way. Self-managers are flexible and don’t fluster easily, where people with poor self-management let their emotions direct their behavior.
Strategies for improving at self-management include visualizing the way you’d like to behave in emotionally charged situations, as well as by recognizing and combating negative self-talk.
Social awareness takes the skills learned from self-awareness and expands them to the rest of the world. People with high social awareness are capable of “reading the room.” They can assess and understand the emotions of people around them, which helps them understand multiple perspectives.
The key strategy for improving social awareness is through active listening. Active listening goes beyond simply hearing and understanding words; it also includes observing body language, tone, and other nonverbal forms of communication, and being able to extract the truth from in between the lines.
Managing relationships is the final component of emotional intelligence. It is the culmination of the other three components, sort of like an EQ final exam. Building and maintaining positive and healthy relationships requires social awareness to understand a person’s needs and feelings to better respond to them. However, good relationships also require the ability to identify and understand our own feelings through self-awareness. Finally, we must use that understanding to better express our needs and regulate our behavior through self-management.
To improve our relationships, we must be able to communicate openly and effectively. Being able to honestly share our feelings without getting angry or hurtful, and keeping the lines of communication during even the hardest discussions, are crucial to healthy relationships.
What’s YOUR EQ?
The first step to improving your emotional intelligence is to find out exactly what your EQ is! Not only will this give you a benchmark for future comparisons, it can also help you pinpoint which parts of EQ you specifically struggle with.
There are free EQ tests all over the internet, but Emotional Intelligence 2.0 also offers an online appraisal (though it requires a passcode found in physical copies of the book). Once you know your EQ, you can use the specific strategies outlined in the book to help you improve upon those skills.
Unlike IQ, which is thought to be inherent and unchanging, EQ is a skill that anyone can improve. All it takes is observation and practice.