Emotional cliff jumping, we do it every day, sometimes we know we are jumping sometimes we do it without even knowing we are doing it. Every day people jump off emotional cliffs and dive into emotions both their own and other people’s emotions. Without emotions it would be almost impossible for people to communicate with each other on a daily basis. We rely strongly on emotions in order to determine if our friends or co-workers like us, if they are happy or sad or if we ourselves are happy or sad at any given moment and the higher our emotional intelligence (EI) is the better we are at communicating with the people around us. What exactly is EI?
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.
The Four Branches of Emotional Intelligence
Salovey and Mayer proposed a model that identified four different factors of emotional intelligence: the perception of emotion, the ability reason using emotions, the ability to understand emotion and the ability to manage emotions.
- Perceiving Emotions: The first step in understanding emotions is to accurately perceive them. In many cases, this might involve understanding nonverbal signals such as body language and facial expressions.
- Reasoning with Emotions: The next step involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity. Emotions help prioritize what we pay attention and react to; we respond emotionally to things that garner our attention.
- Understanding Emotions: The emotions that we perceive can carry a wide variety of meanings. If someone is expressing angry emotions, the observer must interpret the cause of their anger and what it might mean. For example, if your boss is acting angry, it might mean that he is dissatisfied with your work; or it could be because he got a speeding ticket on his way to work that morning or that he’s been fighting with his wife.
- Managing Emotions: The ability to manage emotions effectively is a key part of emotional intelligence. Regulating emotions, responding appropriately and responding to the emotions of others are all important aspect of emotional management.
On the other hand there is empathy. Empathy is the capacity to share or recognize emotions experienced by another sentient or fictional being. One may need to have a certain amount of empathy before being able to experience accurate sympathy or compassion.
Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling. Empathy is known to increase prosocial (helping) behaviors.
How do we become more empathic or emotionally intelligent? That’s a good question, perhaps emotional risks plays a large factor. Without risking our emotions can we make the leap off the cliff? What is emotional risk? Emotional risk is the barrier to a trusted relationship, it’s the elephant in the room. In order to take an emotional risk you need to take the emotional jump off the cliff and “name it and claim it”. List as many caveats as are necessary to slightly overcompensate for what you’re about to say—then say it.
One might speculate that in order to be empathic you first need to take the emotional risk and at that point emotional intelligence will play a factor. Or is it the other way around? A person is empathic to an individual and hence they take the emotional risk and engage their emotional intelligence with another human being.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Naked Face,” it is said our assessment of a situation starts from the very first facial expression. From there we draw on our emotional intelligence and empathy to further assess the situation and then decide whether to take the emotional risk. As the Naked Face states, some are better at assessing a person’s facial expression then others.
However, have you noticed that in today’s computer age and technological age, it seems to be getting harder and harder to do just that. One would suggest that with all our technology we have forgotten how to talk, empathize and effectively communicate with one another. We hid behind our keyboards and cellphones typing our thoughts and messages but yet we cannot see the other person’s facial expressions in order to make that initial facial emotions needed to empathize and be emotionally intelligent effectively.
The reality is that as human beings we all need to develop and enhance our emotions throughout our lives and to the different situations we will encounter in order to effectively communicate with the people around us.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Definitions, History, and Measures of Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence, social intelligence, ecological intelligence
A Tool for Emotional Risk Management — Name It and Claim It
Malcolm Gladwell’s “the Naked Face