Having clarified the importance of emotional intelligence, we can delve into its basic characteristics.
Emotional intelligence is in fact composed of two main competencies:
- personal skills, namely self-awareness and self-control, which include the ability to recognize one’s emotions and control one’s behaviour
- social skills, that is, social awareness and interpersonal relationships, which include the ability to recognize and understand others’ moods, motivations and behaviours.
In more detail, the core skills attributable to emotional intelligence are:
This is a fundamental skill for emotional intelligence because it underlies other skills: being aware means knowing one’s nature, behaviours,and emotions, but also the events that trigger our emotional reactions.
Being aware means having a clear and defined vision of one’s potential and weaknesses: in this way, one has a better chance of pursuing the right opportunities, enhancing one’s talents and preventing non-functional emotions from blocking us.
Knowing ourselves offers us great opportunities: it allows us to learn to make predictions about how we will deal with the various situations that life throws us in our daily lives, thus being able to live more prepared for events, with the ability to be able to choose situations, behaviours and attitudes that are more functional for achieving our goals.
Self-control is closely related to self-awareness because it represents how we use that awareness to direct our behaviour. In fact, knowing one’s tendencies and motivations but not acting to counteract or encourage them is tantamount to not being aware at all.
If, on the other hand, one is able to control oneself, she/he can recognize the onset of a negative emotion and use rational thought to persuade oneself not to do or say what the emotion would prompt one to do or say.
Social awareness is the ability to clearly perceive the emotional states of others and to understand exactly what is happening to them. This ability also involves understanding both what others are feeling or thinking and what our position is regarding their feelings or thoughts: do we share them or not? Do we think like them or not?
The basic skills of social awareness are listening and observing, which enable one to shift attention from one’s own thoughts to those of others. Those who can listen and observe, therefore, are able to change perspective and put themselves in others’ shoes, being able to be more understanding, hence empathetic.
MANAGING INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
Very often we don’t realize the impact our behaviour can have on others, and it is increasingly common to interact in life, but also on social media, with people who have little empathy and put their own needs ahead of those of others.
The ability to manage interpersonal relationships makes it possible to build healthier and more peaceful relationships. Usually those with low emotional intelligence, in a moment of confrontation tend to avoid head to head or respond passively-aggressively to provocations, then venting on others the anger they cannot handle.
Those with emotional intelligence, on the other hand, can avoid giving in to the temptation to attack the other person, and strive to understand him or her, rather than trying to defeat or humiliate him or her.
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