Emotionally intelligent people are aware of what they do and who they are. Many issues young people have can be alleviated with the knowledge of the people around them and the feelings of others. This awareness makes for successful students, professionals, and members of society and it can thwart or redirect bullying or other inappropriate behaviors. In the recent article “10 Ways to Enhance Your Emotional Intelligence,” Dr. Norman Rosenthal explains there are two schools of thought surrounding emotional intelligence: your EI is an inborn characteristic or you can improve your EI with guidance and practice. Dr. Rosenthal is a believer of the latter, and offered the following tips to “enhance your emotional intelligence” in his article:
- “Don’t interrupt or change the subject.” If you have uncomfortable feelings or thoughts, it might feel like it’s easier to ignore them than do something. Ask yourself “How am I feeling?” twice a day to allow yourself time to do constructive and therapeutic reflecting.
- “Don’t judge or edit your feelings too quickly.” Let your thoughts run their course and don’t cut them off before you’ve completed the thought. “Healthy emotions often rise and fall in a wave, rising, peaking, and fading naturally,” says Rosenthal.
- “See if you can find connections.” Have you ever felt this feeling before? Is it a reaction to the current situation or one from the past? Drawing connections between current and past feelings can help deepen your reflection.
- “Connect your feelings with your thoughts.” If something “strikes you as out of the ordinary,” ask yourself what you think about it. When you listen to your feelings and your thoughts, you have a better sense of the whole situation and can make an appropriate judgment.
- “Listen to your body.” Your body often sends you signals in response to your doing something right or wrong. Dr. Rosenthal uses the example, if your stomach is in knots when you go to work, your job is probably a source of stress. If your heart flutters when you see someone you just started dating, it could mean potential for love.
- “If you don’t know how you’re feeling, ask someone else.” People are perceptive. Ask someone you trust how you’re coming across. You might be surprised and illuminated, says Dr. Rosenthal.
- “Tune in to your unconscious feelings.” You can get in touch with your subconscious by analyzing where your thoughts go when your mind is in a relaxed state or by analyzing your dreams. Keep a journal and note when you see repeats or a change.
- “Ask yourself: How do I feel today?” Keep a daily journal where you rate your well-being on a scale of 0-100. If you encounter a day with an emotional extreme, take a few minutes to analyze why you feel that way.
- “Write thoughts and feelings down.” Simply keeping a journal can make a profound difference in your self-awareness.
- “Know when enough is enough.” Emotional intelligence is being aware both inwards and outwards. Don’t spend too much time dwelling on the negative or directing your thoughts inward.
As you solidify or adjust your resolutions for 2012, how do you see becoming more emotionally intelligent helping you achieve your goals? This year is also an election year. How can you use emotional intelligence to make a well-thought out decision on the ballot? How can you use emotional intelligence to look outward and make an educated judgment or decision of a candidate? How can you work with a young person to promote emotional intelligence? How can you model emotional intelligence for a young person?
LifeBound’s book, PEOPLE SMARTS FOR TEENAGERS, builds on these principles so that young people can manage themselves and their relationships with others respectfully, effectively, and purposefully. Incorporating these skills early can promote attention and intention as well as academic, emotional, and social success. Academic coaching of students on emotional intelligence can make the difference in school and out in both the short and the long term.