Emotions are contagious and having a deeper understanding on how they work can help you develop your Emotional Intelligence (EI).

What is Emotional Intelligence (EI)?

Emotional Intelligence, a theory developed in the 90s by psychologists, John Mayer and Peter Salovey, defines the fundamental keystones that help us develop our understanding of how our emotions affect ourselves and others.

Often emotions compensate for thinking, but our ability to rationalize our environment goes hand in hand with our ability to feel it too.

How do our brains process emotions?

Our model of reality is made up of thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes, and emotions play an important role in shaping our perception. Chemical messengers, known as neurotransmitters, travel through our neurons signaling our brain whenever we receive positive or negative stimuli from the environment.

There are many neurotransmitters that enable us to feel, but we’ll mention two: cortisol and dopamine to demonstrate how they affect our emotions and consequently, our actions.

Let’s say you’re running late to work and while you’re loading your car, you spill coffee on your white button-down. If there are any repercussions for tardiness at your work place, chances are cortisol which dispenses stressors to the brain, is released to signify a potential threat. Now imagine the same morning, and you wake up to birds chirping, plenty of time, and a kindred hug and best wishes from your loved one. Congratulations, you’ve just received a boatload of dopamine-– the “feel good” neurotransmitter released when a reward is perceived.

Developing Emotional Intelligence will enable you to cushion those cortisol moments and increase dopamine surges.

5 Steps to Develop Emotional Intelligence:

  • Become Self-Aware

Emotions are experienced as both psychological and physical impressions. On a psychological level, that little voice in your head acting as a critic or a cheerleader at different intervals, determines how you act. On a physical level, you experience symptoms attached to certain emotions like “butterflies” in your stomach, muscle tension, or rapid heart palpitations. Awareness of how you react to situations is the first step to developing EI.

  • Regulate Your Emotions

Once you become aware, you can learn to tune the dial up or down to channel your emotions in a healthy way. There are many methods to channel emotions like exercising to release frustration or painting to depict anger. Some people find that if they do the opposite of what they feel, they’re able to rewire their brain to react positively with time.

  • Create an Intention

If you establish an internal motivation that acts as a compass for your thoughts and emotions, you may find it easier to act accordingly. Try setting a daily affirmation when you wake-up or even an annual intention to enact long-term goals.

  • Empathize with Others

A key factor in developing Emotional Intelligence is not only being able to understand your own emotions, but everyone’s around you as well. Feel into your co-workers, loved ones, and friend’s “shoes” to understand reality on their level. Empathizing with someone else’s experience can help you respond in way that promotes cooperation and builds relationships.

  • Develop Social Skills

It’s a golden rule that people remember not what you said, but how you made them feel. Emotional intelligence can’t be utilized if you don’t communicate your empathy effectively. Learning how to be an active listener who acknowledges the situation and assures someone they empathize are key indicators of EI.

By: Genesis Moreno