Last updated on September 30th, 2023 at 08:57 am
How is emotional intelligence developed? Uncover the answer to this question and tips to nurture self-awareness, empathy, and effective emotional management.
Just like animals, newborns are not specially taught survival skills, they instinctively know the survival skills almost immediately after birth.
Though man is in many ways different from animals, he also makes use of instincts to get by, but emotional intelligence is his most handy rudder even if he does not know it.
In this article, we are going to dissect how emotional intelligence can be developed for different life situations.
Related: What is Emotional Literacy?
Here is a video by Learnit Training you can watch for context:
How is emotional intelligence developed?
The development of our Emotional Intelligence starts in infancy, through interactions with our mothers and family, we socialize and continue to do so in the school years.
We interact with peers, teachers, and family, and further down when language skills begin to develop, our ability to experience emotions increases with the ability to make meaning of what happens around us.
Our brains are ready for experiences and would constantly shaped by the people we spend our lives with at each stage of our lives through interactions.
From our earliest moments, our brains are impressed with how we think, act, and respond to the stimuli in the environment and make use of the available environmental resources.
These resources include everything from the food we eat to nourish our body, to the instruction we receive to educate our minds and the relationships we build with families and peers.
Research shows that rapid growth of the cortical and subcortical areas of the brain depends on experience.
Even subtle emotional regulatory interactions can grow young children’s brain activity levels.
This process plays a crucial role in the growth of the limbic system as described above.
Emotional Intelligence is learned or acquired informally through life experiences by observation and imitation.
As we watch our parents, peers, teachers, and television, we learn and enrich the experiences with which we navigate social terrains.
Steps to Develop Emotional Intelligence
Identify your emotional triggers and patterns: Start by observing your behavior and reactions to different situations.
Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and actions to identify patterns and triggers that lead to intense emotions.
Learn to regulate your emotions: Once you have identified your emotional triggers, focus on regulating your emotions by practicing mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing exercises.
This will help you manage negative emotions like anger, anxiety, and stress.
Cultivate empathy: To develop emotional intelligence, it is important to cultivate empathy towards others. Practice putting yourself in their shoes and try to understand their perspective.
Build positive relationships: Building healthy relationships is a crucial aspect of emotional intelligence. Practice effective communication, active listening, and conflict-resolution skills to strengthen your relationships.
Practice self-awareness: Self-awareness is the ability to recognize and understand your emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. Practice mindfulness, journaling, and reflection to develop self-awareness.
Seek feedback: Emotional intelligence is not something you can develop alone. Seek feedback from others to gain insights into your emotional behavior and areas for improvement.
Develop resilience: Emotional intelligence is not about being invincible to negative emotions but about developing resilience to bounce back from setbacks and challenges.
Create a support system, seek help when needed, and focus on self-care to build resilience.
Related: The Fundamentals of Self Mastery
Challenges of Developing Emotional Intelligence
Developing emotional intelligence can be challenging for various reasons:
Lack of awareness: One of the main challenges of developing emotional intelligence is the lack of awareness.
Many people are not aware that emotional intelligence is a vital skill to have in life.
Most of us grow up learning academic or technical skills, but the emphasis on emotional intelligence is not promoted.
Difficulty in self-reflection: Developing emotional intelligence requires the ability to reflect and be honest with oneself about their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
This can be difficult for many because it requires humility and vulnerability to acknowledge one’s weaknesses.
Cultural and upbringing barriers: Emotional intelligence is also influenced by cultural and upbringing factors, which may vary widely.
Some cultures might not value discussing emotions openly or growing up in a family that believed emotions should be hidden away.
Hence, individuals may struggle to express themselves emotionally.
Resistance to change: Changing one’s behavior, thoughts, and emotions is not easy. Many individuals find it challenging to adopt new perspectives, behaviors, and thought patterns, causing difficulty in overall growth and development.
Lack of practice: Developing emotional intelligence requires consistent practice to learn new skills and unlearn old habits.
However, many individuals do not make the effort to practice, leading to a lack of improvement.
Overall, it requires patience, openness, and self-determination to develop emotional intelligence successfully.
While it is challenging, the benefits of developing emotional intelligence are enormous, including better communication skills, enhanced relationships, and improved overall well-being.
Overcoming the Challenges of Developing Emotional Intelligence
Recognize your emotions: Start with identifying your own emotions and understanding what triggers them.
Learn to manage your emotions: Once you have identified your emotions, you need to learn how to manage them effectively.
This involves learning different strategies such as deep breathing, meditation, or journaling.
Improve your communication skills: Effective communication is a crucial aspect of emotional intelligence. Practice active listening and expressing yourself clearly and assertively.
Build better relationships: Building and maintaining healthy relationships is an essential component of emotional intelligence. Cultivate empathy and learn to see things from the other person’s perspective.
Seek feedback: Ask for feedback from trusted colleagues, mentors, or coaches, and use their feedback to improve your emotional intelligence skills.
Continuous learning: Like any other skill, emotional intelligence also requires continuous learning and development.
Read books, attend workshops, and practice regularly to improve your emotional intelligence.
Frequently asked questions
What is the key to developing emotional intelligence?
The key to developing emotional intelligence is self-awareness. Being aware of your own self and how you are triggered emotionally, the effect emotions have on you, and how others react to emotions is the cornerstone of developing your EI.
What are the 4 keys to building emotional intelligence?
The four keys to developing emotional intelligence are – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
The development of emotional intelligence is crucial for everyone, and doubly crucial for people who have constant interaction with others.
This is because it is needed for smooth interaction in society as we encounter different types of people. Our emotional development starts in infancy and continues throughout life.
Having a well-developed emotional intelligence will save you unnecessary altercations with colleagues, family members, friends, and society at large.
Pious Clements is the insightful voice behind "The Conducts of Life" blog, where he writes about life ethics, self-development, life mastery, and the dynamics of people and society.
With a profound understanding of human behaviuor and societal dynamics, Pious offers thought-provoking perspectives on ethical living and personal growth.
Through engaging narratives and astute observations, he inspires readers to navigate life's complexities with wisdom and integrity, encouraging a deeper understanding of the human experience and our place within society.