Emotions play a role in the lives of humans that often gets discounted as secondary, but EI says differently. Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and best-selling author who popularized EI, says it provides strategies to manage feelings and empathize with other people—and beyond that, EI helps understand what you and others do and why.
His basic premise is that everyone has two minds: One that thinks and one that feels. And according to a report by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, EI even affects the creative aspects of a person’s life, like the way they express themselves through art.
That means once you have and understand how to use emotional intelligence, you can almost turn off the thinking part of your brain and use the feeling part to relate to and understand other people—your significant other, co-workers, children—more effectively.
Why You Need It
Companies—from huge Fortune 500 companies to startup-sized ones—are constantly on the hunt for employees who have an understanding of what it means to be emotionally intelligent and act it out daily.
In one of Goleman’s more recent books on the intersection of EI and leadership he writes:
“EI defines our capacity for relationship. You can look at two people interacting and then see how that cascades into teams, groups and whole organizations.”
Even the smallest steps toward raising your EI can achieve results that will move your career forward. Having a high EIQ at work makes you more flexible, helps you adjust to large- and small-scale changes more easily and makes it easier to work as a team—something many employers are looking for in a candidate.
Overwhelmingly, companies that prioritize helping their employees understand and increase their emotional intelligence are ones that have happier and more productive employees.
Why EQ May Not Be Enough
While raising your EIQ may be a valuable start, it hardly addresses the whole person. EI certainly helps people understand emotions and act on those understandings. But behavior change is never enough.
Because your responses are influenced by environment, culture and, most importantly, spiritual health. That’s the perspective of Peter Scazzero.
The author of multiple best-selling books, including Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and The Emotionally Healthy Leader, Scazzero says for all the benefits of EI, the problem is it’s only skin deep.
Dealing with behavior is important, but stopping there—instead of addressing the deeper development of a person—will not produce lasting emotional health.
“Emotional health and spiritual health are inseparable,” Scazzero says. “Many of us don’t have a solid foundation around emotion. I realized I was an emotional infant leading the church.”
Earlier in his leadership, Scazzero found himself stuck at an immature level of emotional and spiritual development.
A problem that resulted was his wife deciding to leave the church he was leading, amongst other things. The pastor soon discovered that the problem was he needed to overcome emotional barriers.
Determined to more fully understand the relationship between faith and emotions, Scazzero has devoted much of his time since to exploring this area.
“We are intellectual, social and emotional creatures just as God is.” Emotions, it follows, are not simply a matter of controlling behavior, but they are of spiritual concern.
The ability to grow in emotionally challenging situations means you have to understand how to be emotionally healthy—not just emotionally intelligent. Spiritually, emotional health requires development, just as any other area.
“One of the most glaring things missing in faith life and community is the deficit of emotional health and maturity. This is why the “church” so often is disregarded in it’s opinions and posture, appearing closed minded, rigid and tunnel visioned.” – BH
Scazzero says developing his emotional health and enhancing his emotional intelligence isn’t something that happens overnight. Growth means reading, mentorship, counseling, prayer, journaling and discipline.
“It has required going beyond raising my intelligence, to truly building a solid spiritual foundation around emotions,” Scazzero says. . It’s one thing to understand emotional health, it’s another thing to actually live it.”
EI comes from the thought process that change works from the outside in. It says that managing emotion is an extrinsic process in which we act our way into change. “The act preceeds the virtue”, so to speak.
EQ is about understanding the cultural norms, rules and regulations around emotion.
Emotional health, (EH), on the other hand, is a critical piece of our growth and development. It’s not simply a matter of how you act and empathize, it’s a matter of heart motivation.
Spiritually healthy people can grow during alone time, thrive in community, engage diversity, serve others and go deeper in their relationship with God and other people.
Emotions affect your relationships with others, God and you. Nurturing emotional intelligence and health is an imperative step toward functioning with emotional health, and increasing your EIQ.