Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?
Emotions are hardwired into all interactions. You really cannot separate your emotions despite the advice to do so. Antonio Damasio, Head of Neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine and author of the book, The Feeling of What Happens, defines emotions as complicated collections of chemical and neural responses, forming a pattern¦ regulatory role to play¦ to assist the organism in maintaining life (p. 51). He acknowledges that emotion and reason are not mutually exclusive and points to a growing consensus among scientists on the definition and function of emotions. He goes on to describe emotions as the result of a long history of evolutionary fine-tuning.
In other words, we all come equipped with a collection of emotions as part of our survival kit. Emotions are here to inform and instruct, they allow for the sweetness and joy in life, as well as the motivation to take action. Emotional intelligence is your awareness of what you are feeling and ability to manage it in order to achieve the best possible outcome.
Today for most people, the stress reaction is running in the background leaving you open to emotional hijacking. The primitive nature of the stress response forces attention on what is urgent and there is a tendency to speed up to try and catch up. This urgency and distraction opens you up to irritability and negativity. Your broad perspective and creative problem solving is just not accessible. When you have developed your emotional intelligence and understand your triggers and reactions , you have a resilience that changes your stress set point.
Emotions are your guides to take action.
They are designed to flow from one to another. When you suppress or ignore them they get stuck and this is when expression can be awkward. Anger is meant to trigger your need to set boundaries just as anxiety may be your cue to do something differently. By learning to flow with your emotions through awareness you maximize your own energy.
Think about the amount of energy you spend on drama or chaos because of lashing out or saying the wrong thing. How about the anxiety spent on reliving your shift for fear of missing something. The practice of mindfulness can be a great way to tune into what is going on within you. Learning to focus will help you manage emotions as well as identify what they are. Research has shown that naming your emotions actually tames them and decreases reactivity.
Emotions can be overwhelming and it is your awareness that keeps them in check. The other reason emotional intelligence is so important is relationships. Relationships are the heart of everything and managing emotions for the good of the team or your family and yourself is the best way to ensure success.
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