Emotional Intelligence is defined as, ‘Understanding own emotions and the emotions of others, and responding to the same in a healthy way”.
The elements of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) are;
- Understanding own emotions
- Managing own emotions
- Understanding the emotions of others
- Managing relationships with others
- Motivation for life and success
When a person understands his/her emotions and can manage them; understand the emotions of others and can manage relationships – we say that person has high Emotional Intelligence. On the other hand, when a person does not understand his/her own emotions nor can manage them, and does not understand the emotions of others nor can manage relationships – we say that person has low Emotional Intelligence. Ability to manage one’s emotions is a sign of high EQ while being managed by own emotions is a sign of low EQ.
To understand one’s emotions and those of others means understanding emotional reasoning. To deal with own emotions and relationships means managing the cognitive distortions which sometimes affect emotional reasoning; through analyzing thoughts for flawed, warped and twisted emotional reasoning. Failure to understand one’s emotions and those of others can lead to serious problems at a personal as well as societal levels. This can have significant ramifications of the chances of success in personal life, at work, at school, within the family and in society in general.
Faulty Emotional Reasoning
Let us try and look and some of the common cognitive distortions that comes from warped emotional reasoning that reflect low EQ:
- A failure to acknowledge one’s mistakes
- Failure to acknowledge the good of others
- A failure to take responsibility for one’s actions
- Minimization of the achievement of others
- Overrating one’s self
- Underrating others
- Blaming others for one’s failures
- Blame shifting
- Victim mentality
- Attributional errors
- Faulty causal analysis etc.
Value of Emotional Intelligence
The things listed above can lead to serious intrapersonal as well as interpersonal problems. That is why EQ is important in leadership, management, supervision, training, and indeed in any position. The list above is like the bedrock for organizational conflict, interpersonal discord, and intrapersonal problems well as other social and mental health problems.
Cognitive distortions appear valid at face value but are irrational, and faulty emotional reasoning that is plain wrong and damaging to intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships. Try to imagine a leader who does not acknowledge the achievements of others! Imagine how demotivating the work environment gets to be with his/her staff! And should a client come and give commendation to his staff member, the leader’s ego gets hurt! Fragile egos! Even seeking revenge for the hurt ego! A study of history will show you that most wars were fought as revenge for the hurt egos of the kings and rulers of the land! Talk of the wounded pride of Kaiser Wilhelm and Adolf Hitler. King Saul’s vendetta with David, his subject! I bet you can think of a thousand other examples relating to any one of the above listed cognitive distortions.
Dealing with Faulty Emotional Reasoning
We can debunk cognitive distortions and faulty emotional reasoning through thought analysis. Thoughts influence emotions more than actual events so this kind of makes sense. For, ‘As a man thinks, so is he’. If we analyze our thoughts we may trace the thought pattern that influence our emotions in a particular direction. To start off this thought analysis let us identify some of the factors that influence our thoughts hence our emotions:
- Our beliefs
- How we evaluate events
- Our views on problems
- Our silent self-talk
We can put these factors into a series of questions this way:
- What are my beliefs?
- How do I see events as they happen around me and in my life?
- How do I view problems?
- What is the substance of my self-talk?
- What is the nature of my emotional reasoning?
If we take the question, “How do I view problems?” It may reveal that we see others as causing problems. Such a view to our problems leads to a victim mentality, avoidance of taking responsibility for the consequences of own actions, blame shifting and serious blind spots to own faults.
A person in such a situation has problems at many levels. One needs to correctly identify causes to problems to solve them. An accurate diagnosis leads to a successful prognosis. Avoiding to take responsibility arrests problem solving capabilities in individuals. At another level, blame shifting alienates from others, that way thwarting teamwork. The alienation will further create depression and mental health problems in the individual. We can find many other problems that snowball around this low EQ factor.
Debunking Faulty Emotional Reasoning
The above case is clearly a case for increasing EQ as we can see that low EQ factors like in the above scenario are very damaging at many levels. We can go back to the emotional reasoning and seek ways to increase EQ through shifts in our emotional reasoning, and through straightening out our cognitive distortions. Let us try to restate the factors that affect EQ in a way that can begin to be helpful along this pathway.
- In what ways do my beliefs affect the way I view issues of cause and effect?
- Do my beliefs create attributional errors and faulty causal ideas?
- How do I ascribe causes of events around me and in my life?
- How do I attribute causes to problems?
- Is my self-talk negative or positive? Is my self-talk uplifting or depressing?
- How do I arrive at causal relationships?
Do you share with me that thought analysis along above lines can start to debunk cognitive distortions in a manner that will improve Emotional Intelligence?
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