Emotional intelligence is of one those buzz words people like to throw around without understanding what it means. In this article we will explain what the four branches of emotional intelligence their relationship with each other and how to improve them.
What is emotional Intelligence?
The four branches of emotional intelligence are self awareness, self control, social awareness and relationship management. Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and understand your own and other people’s emotions, respond appropriately with compassion and with sensitivity to practicalities of the situation.
The Four Branches Of Emotional intelligence
Branch One : Self Awareness
To become an emotionally intelligent person we must start with ourselves. If we do not know ourselves we won’t be able to understand others.
Self awareness involves understanding our desires, values and what motivates us. It also means understanding our biases.
Beware of Biases
Our biases could be influenced from childhood, eg a a negative experience with someone who talks a certain way, when we meet someone who has a similar voice in adulthood we will have an automatic negative reaction, even though the person has done nothing wrong.
We may have had parents who only gave us love when we were being useful to them, turning us into codependents and fawning types. If we are not aware of the impact of this then our adult relationship choices, they will continue to confuse us.
Emotionally intelligent people do not take their emotions so seriously that they do not question them. We often confuse emotions, we might say we are angry but are actually frustrated.
How to Improve Self Awareness
A good exercise to increase self awareness is to clearly identify emotions and label them. You can use an emotional wheel chart, which has the various emotions and their many levels in a easy to read way.
You can also look at how you speak to yourself and others by learning about life scripts. This article shows you how, Life Scripts: The Hidden Patterns that Control Your Life.
Branch Two: Self Control
We have all experienced people who react out of proportion to situation. You may have done this yourself. This rarely works out well.
Self control means managing emotions by keeping a healthy distance from them and staying mindful of the bigger picture.
The Part of the Brain Responsible for Emotions
Our amygdala in the brain is responsible for reacting to dangerous situations, it is the primitive part of our brain. When we are overwhelmed with emotion, it is this part that is responsible for Fight, flight, fawn or freeze response.
Self Control Does Not Mean Suppressing Emotions.
Self control means understanding that emotions are messengers, it is up to us what we do with the message and when to express it.
How to Improve Self management
You can increase self control through meditation and making a conscious effort to to be mindfulness when emotions arise. This uses the forebrain to balance out the reaction from the amygdala.
Emotional and intellectual growth comes with experience. Emotionally intelligent people use difficult situations to learn and improve and practice mindfulness. The more we are able to do this more we are able to manage emotions.
Branch Three: Social Awareness
Social awareness is how we are able to understand social hierarchies and other people. Empathy is the cornerstone for this.
Empathy: “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another”
Look Beyond Appearances
We need to be able to dig deeper than what we see. The tone of voice, body language and context all matter.
For example if we ask someone to do something for us and they angrily say “no”. If we only understand this at the surface level, we think they are being unreasonable. When we dig deeper it could be our request scared them, they feel they will not be able to do it and the anger is a response to the shame they feel.
Understanding this will help use communicate more effectively and connect with others on a deeper level.
Self Awareness Helps Social Awareness
This is where having self awareness about our own emotions and basic psychological processes helps. If we understand ourselves we understand the reason for our emotions and reactions are not always obvious at first glance, then we understand others better.
Branch Four: Relationship Management
Relationship management brings together self awareness, self control and social awareness.
Without knowing ourselves we won’t know our strengths, weaknesses and blind spots and will be unable to express emotions accurately, which will harm how we relate to other people.
Without self control we are likely to react in ways disproportionate to the situation.
And without social awareness we are unable to accurately perceive emotions of others.
When we have a healthy relationship management style we bond with other people deeper and easier, we handle conflict in a calm understanding way, and we use persuasion rather than fear and manipulation.
Without healthy relationship management it is difficult to work towards shared goals, whether that is at work, with friends or with family. When healthy we will enjoy contributing without taking on too much because we do not seek validation and a sense of identity from being needed.
I worked a with a person who would say an abrupt “I disagree” as his first response when he had a different view point. People did not like speaking to him. he not only lacked relationship management, but also social awareness. Later when he was dismissed from the company, no one was surprised.
Take the attachment style quiz to improve relationship management.
How to Improve the Four Branches of Emotional Intelligence.
Mindfulness Practice and Mediation.
Use meditation and mindfulness practices to observe rather than get lost in emotions. They will help you not to identify with your emotions. These practices will also improve your emotional understanding.
Use the wheel of emotions to accurately identify emotion. You can do this through the day, set a specific time or when you are feeling an especially extreme emotion.
Create a habit of asking questions and clarifying what someone has said to understand their motivations and what their emotions convey.
Get a Mentor or Coach.
Getting an unbiased perspective will allow us to see our blind spots in a non judgemental way.
Emotional Intelligence Has a Healthy Dose of Skepticism
Finally, understand that emotionally intelligent people have a healthy dose of scepticism regarding their emotions. They do not deny or suppress them in themselves or ignore them in others. Looking deeper than face value, they see behind laughter can be a deep sadness, behind anger can be a way to hide sadness. This makes less open to being persuaded or manipulated.
Emotional management and being able to express emotion in a healthy way is something we should learn in childhood. As children we have an inborn ability to mimic our parents. Unfortunately not all parents are a healthy model of emotional intelligence, so we have to teach ourselves later in life. The four branch model of emotional intelligence is a useful way to achieve this.
I have known people who are smart when it comes to problem solving, numbers and physical skills, but lack emotional development. It’s not only their relationships that suffer but their earning power.
Improving the four types of emotional intelligence will enhance your earning power, relationships and happiness.
The four types of emotional intelligence of self awareness, self control, social awareness and relationship management are all related. Improve one area and the others improve.