The customary formula for high grades and success is school plus hard work. This was and is seen as the winning principle that we continue to replicate in our school and college system. However, in a world where everybody adheres to this path to success; how do we explain how some people are just more successful, less stressed and happier than others? Aside from luck, there is a very real and plausible explanation. Many of us have read or heard of Emotional Intelligence; well this ‘EQ’ or the lack of it can explain different variations of success and emotional well-being.
Emotional Intelligence, often called EQ as opposed to IQ is our ability to handle emotions and to cope with the highs and lows that life throws at us. David Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence, suggests that there are five aspects of emotional intelligence and that one can check how emotionally intelligent they are, by referring to these:
- Emotional Attunement: How aware you are of your emotions and how these affect your life.
- Emotional Management: How much you are in control of your emotions and having the ability to make sure they don’t overwhelm you.
- Self-motivation: This measures how good you are at delaying gratification; in other words can you prioritise and do important things first for bigger and more important rewards.
- Empathy: Are you in tune with the emotions of others?
- Relationships with others: This is a skill in handling relationships without becoming overwhelmed by them.
There is an ever-growing large body of research asserting that emotional intelligence is critical to people’s academic, work and life success. In looking at the level of work/school place absenteeism that is related to stress, we realise the amount of people that are not capable of managing their emotions. It has been found that children with poor emotional skills struggle to make friends, have poor attention in class and have feelings of frustration. This often leads them to be hot-tempered and encourages negative social behaviour. In the case of leadership, whether political or in the workplace, the most effective leaders have high emotional intelligence and have the most productive workers/followers. Teachers with a higher EQ get higher grades from essentially happier students. These findings demonstrate the importance of promoting our emotional quotient – whether in the work place or learning environment.
In relation to teaching and learning, students who learn in an emotionally intelligent way have awareness as to why they are learning; they recognise the importance of learning and they will connect to the learning material on an emotional level. Our retention of material or events improves when there is an emotional attachment to it. Developing Emotional Intelligence will also remove barriers to learning that we build as we grow up.
Renowned psychologist, Daniel Goleman says: ‘Emotional Intelligence is a master aptitude; it is a capacity that profoundly affects all other abilities, either facilitating or interfering with them.’ Perhaps it is time our education system paid serious heed to this ‘Master Aptitude’ especially in the light of the following: there is a rise in people presenting with anxiety and social phobias; students are increasingly turning to substance abuse to cope with their emotions; there is an alarming increase in suicides and stress-related illnesses in the work place.
According to related research the time is right for EQ to become as important as IQ in the minds of students, parents, employers and educators. Afterall, it is our EQ that determines and contributes to peoples’ success and emotional well-being. By bringing Emotional Quotient lessons into the mainstream classroom or workplace, students are taught ways of being that are conducive to an emotionally healthier life. It is also now proven that students who learn in an emotionally intelligent way produce better grades that are reflective of real knowledge observation. In relation to employers and employees, those who work in an environment characterised by emotional intelligence will be more productive and happier in their work place, reducing stress-related absenteeism and illnesses.
The increasing interest in Emotional Intelligence is one of the most exciting developments in recent years. Unfortunately, up until now, the power and impact of emotion has been ignored, and therefore children and adults have been unable to reach their true potential. Emotional Intelligence, if it is fully embraced, will assist in helping people feel fulfilled, emotionally resilient and capable of managing their emotions, that otherwise might overwhelm them and others.
Emotional illiteracy causes a lot more suffering compared to educational illiteracy. However, the encouraging news is: whilst we cannot alter our IQ, we can continually work on our Emotional Quotient to improve it.
Author: Catriona Lowry