By Julian Jooste

Over our recent history there has been the realisation that cognitive intelligence (IQ) does not account for a significant amount of success in people’s lives. We have realised the importance that emotional intelligence plays in numerous aspects of our lives.

Emotional intelligence can be defined as entailing the following abilities:

  • Perceiving, recognising, understanding, and reacting to your own and other’s feelings.
  • Distinguishing different feelings, and naming them.
  • Appropriately controlling and expressing emotions.
  • Listening to others, empathising with them, and effectively communicating regarding emotions and thoughts.

The benefits of being emotionally intelligent:

  • You are able to balance expressing and controlling your feelings.
  • You realise you are responsible for your own feelings, and are thus empowered to take ownership of situations.
  • You have empathy with others and can understand them better. This is, in turn, likely to result in healthier relationships, based on improved communication skills.
  • You have the skills to assert yourself effectively. (You no longer need to rely on aggressive or passive approaches to problem solving).

How do you improve your emotional intelligence?

  • Keep a journal of your feelings. Clarify the situations, feelings, and your reactions to these. What are the physical symptoms of your feelings?
  • Highlight your life roles and decipher the associated feelings (employee-frustration/fulfilled, student-anxiety/excited).
  • Keep a dream journal (this will give you valuable information as to themes in your life at that point)
  • Learn to accept your feelings. Realise feelings are acceptable, but not all behaviour.
  • Consult a psychologist who can facilitate the process of understanding yourself and others better.

Useful Literature:

  • Goleman, Daniel. 1996. Emotional intelligence. Bloomsbury.
  • De Klerk, Dr Rina & Le Roux, Dr Ronel. 2003. Emotional intelligence for children and teens. Human & Rousseau.
  • De Klerk-Weyer, Dr Rina & Le Roux, Dr Ronel. 2008. Emotional intelligence- A work book for your wellbeing. Human & Rousseau.