Emotional Intelligence

IMG_8186We live in a fast paced, often emotionally stressful time, where it’s not always easy to manage our feelings or tune in to the feelings of others.  There are days we yell at the kids because we’ve had a tough time at work, or judge another person negatively because we don’t take the time to understand their situation.  It’s not always easy to keep cool under pressure, or communicate feelings clearly, but research shows that recognizing our emotions and understanding the emotions of others are essential skills for life success.  We are talking about the skills of Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ) is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.  Psychologist’s, John Mayer and Peter Salovey, came up with the concept of emotional intelligence in the early 1990’s, and believe it is the key to a truly successful and happy life.  Where IQ measures academic intelligence, EQ measures the awareness of your actions and feelings and how they affect those around you.  Emotional Intelligence brings you closer to people, both personally and professionally, and can make you an effective leader.

We all know people who have a high EQ. These are the folks who manage and communicate their feelings effectively, provide empathy and understanding, and are good leaders.   It’s the teacher, group leader, and boss who help the group work together and achieve their goals.  They listen, empathize, understand, communicate and negotiate well.  These folks were once referred to as “a people person”.  But regardless of the terminology, these are successful, happy, influential people.  Studies have shown that people with high EQ have greater mental health, job performance, and leadership skills.  They look at themselves honestly and take criticism well (sounds a lot like summer camp staff)!

IMG_5703Emotional Intelligence can be learned and developed.  Helping children regulate their emotions helps them to focus in school and perform better.  Being able to manage emotions will allow kids to reach their potential.  Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence”, speaks of the importance of teaching kids to understand and manage their emotions, and suggesting it is predictive of future life success.

To help kids become more emotionally intelligent we need to manage our own emotions.  Kids will do as we do, and setting a good example of keeping cool under pressure is the perfect way to start.  It’s also helpful to acknowledge feelings and empathize with our kids.  Showing that we understand helps them to develop empathy and compassion.  Allowing expression is another great way to help kids regulate emotions.  By allowing them to express their feelings and listening, we can then teach problem solving.  These important tools help kids develop strong relationships, communicate well, become leaders, develop empathy, relate easily to others and have greater self-awareness.  And greater self-awareness leads to a boost in self-confidence.

So the next time you are faced with a difficult situation and feel the pressure to react, be a person with high EQ.  Count to ten, tune in to your emotions and communicate your feelings clearly.  You will be happier you did.