Though emotional intelligence does not measure intelligence in the same way that an intelligence quotient (IQ) test does, it can be just as revealing about certain aspects of a person’s personality. Such intelligence can be measured by calculating the ability model, which analyzes a person’s emotional information processing abilities and recommends ways in which they could improve their social navigation accordingly. There are marked benefits to this type of self-analysis. People with higher levels of emotional intelligence demonstrate stronger mental health, leadership skills, and overall job performance. The link between the two comes from the ability to read people’s emotions, and by better understanding one’s own mind and feelings.
For many, this is easier said than done. While people often know when they are feeling happy, angry, excited, or sad, they are frequently less successful at understanding their more complex emotions, and cannot employ or comprehend such high-level complexity. Once these skills have been attained, however, a person can quickly become capable of managing their emotions, and harnessing them in productive ways. The easiest way to assess a person’s base level of emotional intelligence is to solve a series of accepted problems using emotion-based logic. These problems are taken from the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test, which is not designed to be a hard test to solve. In fact, there are no “correct” responses. Instead, the score is calculated by comparing a person’s responses to the most popular response to the question. Once a person has taken the test, available online from several different resources, they will receive customized feedback on areas in which they can improve. With this guidance in mind, learners can understand how to adapt their own emotions and react to others’ emotions in more positive ways.
For students and children, one of the most applicable uses of emotional intelligence is during instances of bullying. Studies show that children with lower levels of emotional intelligence often bully others in order to let out excess anger and frustration. While this reaction is not constructive, the good news is that it can be corrected. Children who are easily upset can learn the practices of emotional intelligence to control their aggressive responses toward other children, and channel them into more positive outlets. Similarly, this way of using emotional intelligence to become one’s best self can be as equally as useful for adults as well.
Seeing as certain tenets of emotional intelligence include empathy, sincerity, and compassion, adults with higher levels of emotional intelligence are more likely to be in healthier relationships. Because of their ability to control emotional outbursts, they are less inclined to vent frustration on an undeserving partner, or say something in the heat of the moment that they might later regret. Basically, partners with high levels of emotional intelligence likely know how to “fight right.” They can communicate their own thoughts and feelings freely and easily, without emotionally wounding the other partner. Subsequently, their conversations are more constructive, and are much more focused on problem-solving, as opposed to blaming or name calling.
Another positive application of emotional intelligence is in the area of self-control. Individuals with higher levels of emotional intelligence are significantly less likely to develop problems with drug or alcohol addiction. While this might seem a likely correlation without causation, research shows that individuals with higher emotional intelligence are better at self-diagnosing the root cause of their distress, and can help themselves work through that emotion without resorting to harmful or illegal self-medication. More commonly, the same principle applies to eating healthily. Individuals with higher amounts of emotional intelligence are more likely to make health-conscious decisions when grocery shopping or eating out, as they can evaluate and redirect their unhealthy cravings.
These principles and applications of emotional intelligence are just the beginning, and can be put into practice at any age. For parents who want to instill these same values and skills in their children, emotional intelligence is an excellent starting point. Children who grow up and learn to improve their emotional intelligence will have a markedly easier time getting along with their peers. Later in life, these same children will accumulate leadership skills and opportunities more easily, which will eventually translate into better job performance. While children who learn to cultivate their emotional intelligence early in life generally have an easier time of applying this skill, emotional intelligence can be learned at any time. So, when considering ways to truly become your best self, start with your emotional intelligence for a lifetime of successful interactions with others.