I consider myself a servant leader, and for many years, I have found fulfillment in being consciously aware that I am in the people serving business. In order to effectively serve people in both personal and professional relationships, I have to maintain a level of closeness with them to understand their perspective of life and living so that I can appreciate their wants and needs. Communication is the key to forming good and close relationships.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is our ability to identify, use, understand, and manage our emotions when dealing with life situations. It also helps us understand and relate to another person's emotions, which is, in the end, what allows us to form long-term, positive relationships with others. But, what happens when your emotional intelligence has not been fully developed?
Since our emotional intelligence is the main determinant in how we deal with life's daily stresses, we might become socially awkward, uncommunicative, reserved, abrasive, and unable to face a series of life events when our EQ has not developed adequately. This could affect anything from performance at school and work, to mental health and relationships.
It all goes back to childhood
Because our emotional intelligence is learned, most of the interpersonal issues we face as adults developed early in our childhood, including our inability to communicate our feelings properly.
As an example let's use the case of a child who grew up with a father who was aloof, who never expressed any type of emotion, who wholeheartedly believed men should never cry, and, as a consequence, never communicated with his family, not even when in need of emotional support. The child then grew up to be a man with the same communication problems as his father, simply because no one ever taught him to express his feelings adequately.
If we do not communicate, we become anxious, which can lead to feelings of depression or over-aggression. In either scenario, we will eventually experience a sense of emotional or physical loneliness and isolation. We will see ourselves as misunderstood by others. These are feelings that could eventually lead to more serious consequences, leading to the question: What can be done?
Self-awareness is key
Being a learned trait, our emotional intelligence can be redirected and improved upon with a little bit of coaching and willingness. The first step is to become self-aware of what exactly we are feeling and why. As children, we learn very quickly to determine whether our feelings are recognized and validated by our parents and immediate family. When these emotions are given proper recognition, we will learn the importance of communicating them. When they are ignored or related to painful, confusing, or threatening situations, such as the example mentioned above, we will try to distance ourselves from what we are feeling at any given moment, which will eventually lead to a lack of awareness of our emotions.
The answer is to focus directly on our emotions at the present moment. Meditation and reflection are good ways to become self-aware. Once a feeling starts to appear, it is a good idea to focus only on that sentiment and meditate on the reasons why we are feeling it, what might have given rise to it, and finally, try to speak about it openly without being judgmental of our own selves. Step by step, a little at a time, meditation and reflection will help us to learn how to start communicating in a more secure and free manner. As a result, we will be liberated from our imaginary chains and allowed to continue developing what is considered to be one of the most important parts of our personality, our emotional intelligence!
My challenge for you this week:
Become continuously conscious of your emotional intelligence.
How do you feel about the world? Is it filled with good people or bad people?
Do you ever feel unseen, overlooked, or misunderstood?
Write down what messages you need others to receive about your needs. Your ability to clearly identify the messages you want to convey to others is what matters, regardless of your answers to the first two questions.
Write down key individuals you want to receive your messages.
Based on your knowledge of each individual, write down the ways you can connect with their emotions to effectively communicate your message.
Accept the challenge today and you will be able to consciously activate your emotional intelligence and implement your communication plan!