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The importance of Emotional Intelligence in a fast and changing society

Emotionally intelligent people use their emotions in ways that allow them to successfully live in line with their values and reach their goals. They understand how the expression of emotion influences others and can induce complementary emotions which positively influence our everyday environments. Emotional intelligence is a learned skill that can help us be more effective, productive, and balanced in all aspects of our life.

Emotions are important and can be used to enhance our individual performance. They can support positive coping mechanisms, help us manage difficult circumstances, separate emotion from logic, enhance relationship management, creativity, guide our individual needs and values, and give us an overall sense of balance and healthy wellbeing.

As we move into a post COVID-19 transition to a new normal, and hybrid working, EI has never been more valuable to employers and their workforce. It provides us with an opportunity to transform the way we work everyday and thrive in all areas of our life.

Mental Health in the workplace is a growing concern and we know that 70 million work days are lost every year due to mental health challenges in the UK. The cost to employers is approximately £2.4 billion each year as reported by the Mental Health Organisation.
As employers and in society, we need to address the challenges and focus on the factors that promote emotional resilience, intelligence, and wellbeing.

So why is EI so important post Covid and in a fast and changing society?

EI supports us to grow, adapt and thrive in all areas of our life. Albert Schweitzer reminds us that “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

Emotions are what makes us human. They help us to determine the best response to every situation and prompt us to act. They keep us safe and have a social and creative value. Emotion influences everything we do, so learning to be smart with our emotions can help us break free from negative cycles. Being aware and understanding the impact of our emotions, and those of others around us, can support productive and positive relationships. We can use our emotions to inform our thinking and reasoning, help us make decisions and prioritise our thoughts and behaviours. Managing our emotions can help us to know when to respond and when to take time to stop and think. Knowing when to express emotion and when to detach from it is helpful at work, at home and in our social environments and using emotion to build empathy and rapport with others is valuable in all aspects.

Understanding what triggers us emotionally and taking responsibility for our thoughts and responses is key in managing unhelpful emotions.

We create our own emotions and respond to them uniquely as individuals. We often apportion blame in our everyday lives, and this is triggered by emotion. How often, in any given day are our emotions spiked by a comment from a colleague, family member or friend? Maybe someone talking loudly on the train, your child being fussy about their dinner, people talking to you when you are focused on a task. Everyday situations trigger our emotions and learning how to own, be responsible, for our emotions, recognising when we try to blame others and situations for how and what we feel, is a powerful tool for being emotionally effective in all aspects of life.
Emotions are often triggered when our emotional needs are not met. We need to feel safe, secure, have a sense of control and the ability to make choices. As humans we need a sense of belonging, companionship, and a sense of purpose.
Emotional Intelligence helps us to be more assertive, confident, forge stronger relationships, cope with difficult situations and manage the social complexities of the workplace and in everyday life.

Take time to notice your emotional triggers, the positive and negative influences around you. Reflect on your responses, consider how you can better take control of your emotions and make a positive difference to your emotional wellbeing everyday.

Karen Smith is Professional Psychological Coach & Therapeutic Counsellor at Forward Thinking Therapies www.forwardthinkingtherapies.co.uk.

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