Intelligence is usually something that we think of in an academic sense. For most of us, the meaning of intelligence depends on how well someone performs on a test or their ability to grasp difficult subjects. In reality, intelligence comes in many forms, and not all of them require an impressive educational background. Emotional intelligence, for example, is a key part of our overall wellbeing. Our emotional intelligence is measured via an EQ test, or “emotional IQ” test, and the results can tell us a lot.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to control and recognize our emotions, and understand the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence is not something that we are born with, but is an evolving, growing, and ever-changing process that exists throughout our entire lives. Emotional intelligence is linked to physical and mental health, and it is often cited as a requirement for success in many areas of life.
Psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer first proposed emotional intelligence in the early nineties. They determined that emotional intelligence could be assessed through four fundamental characteristics:
These four characteristics of emotional intelligence are complex and largely rely on one another. A deeper look at what they mean explains how each component influences us:
We are successful at managing our emotions when we can remain objective when it comes to our feelings. This means we should feel our emotions without attaching judgment to them. When our emotions are well-managed, we limit the impact our negative feelings have on us, and we become able to encourage positive emotions in their place. Accepting all our emotions whether they are positive, or negative, and being able to pinpoint how they impact our lives is key.
Understanding our emotions requires us to have a great deal of insight about ourselves. We must be able to recognize precisely what each of our feelings is in various circumstances and see how those feelings change from one type to another over time.
When our emotions are well understood, we can appreciate the vast range of emotions we are capable of, including those that seemingly conflict with one another. Simultaneous emotions can happen in many situations, for example, when someone moves away from home for the first time and feels both excitement and fear. Fully understanding our emotions requires both the ability to recognize and contextualize how we feel at all times.
Using our emotions requires much more than just feeling them, although it is vital that our emotions are appropriate for their circumstance. When we use our emotions effectively, we can create thoughts that matter and help us discover our next step. For example, feeling successful should drive us to develop more creative and compelling plans for future success. When we use our emotions well, we understand their complex relationship with our thoughts and individual perspectives.
When we appropriately perceive emotions, we recognize our feelings and those of others. While most people can quickly identify sadness and happiness just by looking at someone’s face, one who perceives emotions well will master an understanding of nonverbal communication too.
We should also be able to identify when someone’s feelings are genuine, or when they (or we) are simply putting on an act for others. Perceiving emotions well requires us to express our feelings and meet our physical, emotional, and mental needs associated with them too.
As you can see, emotional intelligence is a complex web of what we know, what we feel, how we react, and how we understand others. We want to achieve success in these four areas of emotional intelligence because it affects us in many ways.
Why Does Emotional Intelligence Matter?
Having high emotional intelligence is to our benefit. Individuals with high emotional intelligence achieve success in many areas, including the following:
People who can separate emotions from thoughts can make decisions based on careful consideration, instead of in-the-moment feelings. Reducing impulsivity is beneficial when the decision on the line has major consequences for the future. Emotional intelligence allows us to take calculated risks and control the amount of influence our emotions have on tomorrow.
Being Empathetic Towards Others
Empathy is the ability to view someone’s situation from their perspective. Emotional intelligence is key for this. Empathy connects us to one another and allows us to be helpful, caring, or supportive to those in need. Society thrives on empathy and creates a strong foundation for all relationships including those that are personal or romantic, or those that exist in the business world.
Leaders are often described as having high levels of emotional intelligence. Beyond possessing critical decision-making skills and having the ability to meet the needs of others, leaders thrive on motivation, self-assessment, and a realistic, yet optimistic, understanding of what is to come. Having a genuine and balanced personality also makes these individuals well-liked. This results in others rallying around their leadership easily. High emotional intelligence is key for those who want to succeed in the workplace.
Limiting the negative impact of our emotions and not becoming attached to our thoughts also contributes to good mental health. Understanding and thinking through anxiety-provoking situations, as well as having the ability to move forward after setbacks, can contribute to lower levels of anxiety and depression. Numerous personality disorders have also been linked to low levels of emotional intelligence, proving the fact that a relationship between our thoughts and emotions truly exists.
High emotional intelligence allows us to manage our stress levels. Stress is known as the silent killer, and it contributes to many health conditions including obesity, insomnia, heart disease, and more. We experience high levels of stress when we allow our feelings and thoughts to extend beyond our perceived control. Understanding our emotions and using them effectively helps combat the effects of stress.
What is the EQ Test?
Our emotional intelligence is measured through a test just like an IQ test measures our intellectual intelligence. It is easy to find a free EQ test online, and the results can tell you a lot about how well you manage and understand your emotions, as well as your ability to use and perceive them.
Most emotional IQ tests, such as the eq-test 2.0 test, asks you to imagine yourself in various scenarios and describe how you would respond to each situation. These tests are typically a multiple-choice format and answers ask you to consider your thoughts and feelings. It is important to answer these questions as honestly as possible, even if you are not proud of your response.
Most online tests will give you immediate results and may also offer resources and recommendations to increase your emotional intelligence. Although the test can provide a lot of insight, there are some limitations.
Are EQ Tests Always Right?
If you disagree with your EQ score, keep in mind the following:
The Results Are Not Always Accurate
Emotional intelligence tests are limited because they cannot capture every scenario and every response. You may feel that you would respond to a situation differently than the test questions allow. It is also possible to respond with an answer that is not reflective of how we would react in real life. This can skew our results towards higher or lower levels of emotional intelligence than those we possess.
They Do Not Always Show the Truth
Just because the test says we have high emotional intelligence (or low emotional intelligence) does not mean that our everyday life reflects that. Many individuals have reasonable scores, but in reality, are terrible leaders or have poor mental health due to factors that lie far beyond the realm of emotional intelligence. While the test can give us an idea about our capabilities, it can not tell us everything about what we have to offer.
They Do Not Measure for The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence
Not all emotional intelligence is good. Studies show that individuals who exhibit high levels of emotional intelligence are also great at manipulation and control. Not only does this mean that we can control and distort our own emotions for our gain, but that we can influence others.
Emotional IQ Scores Do Not Last Forever
Emotional intelligence tests do not tell us about tomorrow. A substantially low score (or even an impressively high score) is not reflective of the level of emotional intelligence that we may have in the future. Our EQ levels can change all throughout life depending on outside influences and our well-being. The good news about this is that we can change our score all on our own if we are not happy with it.
If you want to understand more about your emotional intelligence, you can find an EQ test free online. Remember, emotional intelligence is a highly complex and multi-faceted issue. High emotional intelligence does correlate to more personal and social success, but no test can accurately capture everything about you. EQ tests can show you areas of opportunity, and if you are unsatisfied with your scores, it is possible to change them. Contact a professional through BetterHelp today if you want to learn more about your emotional intelligence.