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Building Emotional Intelligence

How well do you understand what you feel and why you feel so? How often have you stepped into others’ shoes and experienced their emotions? Can you imagine a world in which you could not understand when a friend was feeling sad or when a colleague was angry. The umbrella term that envisages answers to all such peculiar notions is EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. The expression may sound like an oxymoron as we are wired to think of our emotions and intelligence as two separate entities.Dictionaries define EI as the ability to perceive, regulate and evaluate our emotions as well as the skill to interpret and respond to the emotions of others. To put in layman’s words EI merges the awareness of our emotions with the ability to use them to enhance our thinking.

It is not enough to be smart and hardworking. To have the added edge for success, students must also be able to understand and manage emotions.”

- Carolyn MacCann, Yixin Jiang, and Luke E. R. Brown

All emotions matter. Yes, all. It is the full range of emotions that helps us get through different phases of life. Understanding and managing your emotions well can positively impact your life. It not only helps students score well and ace tests but also empowers them to handle pressure and deal with difficult situations in an unfazed manner. EI helps you in building strong relationships with your teachers and classmates. It prepares you better for the challenges of academic and corporate life.

Intriguingly, when it comes to academic performance, research (Emotional Intelligence Predicts Academic Performance: A Meta-Analysis) revealed that emotional intelligence holds equal importance as cognitive intelligence. Another research conducted around medical students in Iran found that students with a higher emotional intelligence showed better academic performance.EQ ranks right up there with IQ in terms of significance to creating a well-rounded, accomplished individual who can lead a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling life. Globally, it is being advocated that teachers at schools/universities should devise a roadmap where Social and Emotional Learning is part of the curriculum for the holistic development of the student takes place.

 A decade and a half ago, it was highly unlikely that the concept of emotional intelligence would have found a place even on the fringe of the catalog of courses that teachers prioritized for their students. However, with the advent of digital age and the resulting paradigm shift, the domain of EI and its importance has accelerated exponentially. Learning how to recognize, regulate and explore emotions is a central part of the CEE curriculum to build creativity, problem-solving skills, empathy, and healthy relationships required in the modern world. EI has become an integral part of the professional world too as employers seek people who along with technical skills possess stellar interpersonal and people-oriented skills too.

The encouraging news is that EI can be learned and developed. Social and Emotional learning should be inculcated in people from an early age to swiftly unearth underlying skills of emotional intelligence.The very first step is to RECOGNISE your emotions.  It is considered to be the foundation for other components to follow. Recognizing your/others’ emotions means being aware of what you/they are feeling.The next step focuses on UNDERSTANDING emotions. In this phase, you should try and gain insight into your emotions, and introspect on why you are feeling the way you are. This step also encompasses how well you understand others’ feelings, wants, needs, and perspectives.The next move requires you to appropriately LABEL your emotions. Finding the right word for your feelings is crucial. It allows you to start noticing the cause of your emotions and recognize what you need to do to deal with them.The next action is to uninhibitedly EXPRESS your emotions. People who effectively express what they feel are usually high in emotional intelligence. Socially acceptable expression of emotions results in better communication with others and helps adapt to schools, colleges, and workplaces with ease.The last step asks you to REGULATE your emotions; this calls you to control your emotions and impulse, think before you act, and not let your feelings rule over you.

Although classrooms are a good initiator of developing EI, learning should not be limited to classes and schools only. Parents and society should participate in the cultural shift necessary to promote EI in all facets of life.

In the wake of a global pandemic, the importance of dealing with intense emotions and anxiety among people has increased manifold which unsurprisingly has coincided with the increase in demand for counselors/therapists. Additionally, some people wish to develop their emotional intelligence to better understand themselves, grow as an individual, and struggle less in the workplace by actively seeking help from a therapist.

To pursue a career in this domain one has to acquire a Bachelor’s and Master’s (preferably) degree in Psychology and combine it with internship programs and work experience. Following this, you can work as a counselor in schools/universities helping the student learn Social and Emotional skills or work as a therapist in health care centers, NGOs, and workplace organizations, or can also open your counseling firm. The field of Emotional Intelligence offers numerous possibilities each one as unique and refreshing as the domain itself. 

Written by Mr. Vikram Soni - Jitin Chawla Team

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