The Skill of Emotions

With the changing times and the importance of mental health at the forefront of our minds, the significance of emotions and their impact on everyday life (work, school, relationships, etc.) is a noteworthy conversation to have. The best way to start that conversation is, of course, with Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence is a term that wasn’t present in anything I was taught growing up, but the term is important in almost, I dare to say, every aspect of life, especially during contemporary times, with the importance of mental health being on everyone’s radar after COVID. Emotional Intelligence (EI for short) is defined as a set of skills that help to accurately name emotions you yourself or others might be feeling and being able to regulate said emotions in yourself/others.

Understanding EI from that definition is easier said than done but luckily, there is a more simple way to understand EI. EI is formed by four basic clusters which are as follows:

1.Identifying emotions in yourself and in others, through verbal/nonverbal means

2. Understanding how emotion vocabulary gets used, how emotions transition over time (How anger may lead to embarrassment/shame and how that leads to you making an impulsive choice

3. Emotional management which includes not only managing your own emotions but others

4. Using emotions in cognitive activities like solving a problem or making a decision

EI does not come naturally for some, and that is largely because EI is a skill. Like riding a bike is a skill, we learn, cultivate, and improve on our skills as we grow, and this is undoubtedly true for EI as we learn to listen to what our emotions are telling us. Emotions are information that helps us understand a situation we are in and how we perceive that situation. By processing the information and data provided by emotions, a person can make a better decision in a plethora of moments/situations and avoid acting impulsively.

EI is so important to understand in contemporary times because of the plethora of correlations one can make in regards to many subjects, mental health being a notable example. Those who have a good set of emotional intelligence skills are healthier, happier, and more productive. EI can also predict outcomes in school (how well you work in a group) and the workplace (whether you’ll get a promotion or how you handle situations). As seen in a study, those with EI skills can elicit information, and strangers even rated interactions with those having good EI skills as more pleasant.

With all that being said here is one exceptional way to, sooner than later, improve your emotional intelligence skills- extend your emotional vocabulary. By having emotional granularity (precise labeling of emotions) a person can have less serious bouts of anxiety and depression. In a 2015 review of emotional granularity those “who could differentiate their emotions while experiencing intense distress were less likely to engage in potentially harmful coping strategies.” (McCoy 28).

If you would like to find out more about EI and how to improve your EI skill check out our issue of Psychology Today (the specific issue this month is on Emotional Intelligence) and some of our audiobooks/books (such as Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman) in our collection about EI.

Brackett, Marc, McCoy, Katrina, . “The Art of Emotional Intelligence.” Psychology Today, Vol. 57. No.2, April 2024, pp. 26-30 

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