Part of Emotional Intelligence is Self-Awareness…Unfortunately, Not Everyone Knows That!

November 22, 2009 by
Filed under: Helpful Insights, Leadership, Personal Development 

EQ3At a recent conference, a series of seminars were being given on the subject of Emotional Intelligence or EQ (a.k.a  EI). I’ve been to many such seminars and so have many of my friends and colleagues. What I find puzzling though is how many people say they know all about emotional intelligence and yet their acts show that they probably haven’t got a clue of what it is and the way it can be used.

EQ is not simply about reading and understanding other people. One of the main points of emotional intelligence is reading and understanding ourselves and what makes up our own personal emotions (both from a physical as well as a mental perspective). Having an understanding of only one side of EQ defeats many of the purposes for it. One of the main purposes of emotional intelligence is to aid the development of our emotional literacy and self-knowledge in order to produce socially acceptable objectives and satisfy individual self-actualization needs.

It’s all about understanding yourself and the way other people react to you, and then using this knowledge to better foster relationships.

When I read the book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” by Dr. Daniel Goleman, I learned how as human beings we are physically wired to have our emotions take over our reasoning capability. Without going into the specific details of the human brain, let’s just say that it takes half the time for signals received from our eyes and ears to reach the emotional controlling part of the brain then it does for the same signals to reach our reasoning/thinking part of the brain. The reason for this is believed to have come from the need to survive in the early part of human existence. When a person received signals of imminent danger in the area (being surprised by a lion as you are walking across a field in Africa), the emotional part of the brain would receive the signal first so that the body can react as fast as possible (run!). If the person were to think about it first, they would most likely run out of time and end up as the lion’s next meal.

Today, there may not be lions around the corner that we have to be careful about, but the wiring of the human brain hasn’t changed. The emotional portion of our brains still receives the signals from the eyes and ears in half the time it takes for the same signal to reach the intellectual/thinking portion of our brain.

So what does that mean to us in today’s world?

Well for starters, when we deal with the everyday situations in our lives, we are wired to act emotionally first rather than to act according to our intellect. This means that, the next time someone cuts in front of you in line at the supermarket, or the next time a car cuts you off on the road, your natural tendency will be to react with your emotions. Often, that reaction for some only makes things worst. In the world of EQ, this is what’s called “Emotional Hijacking.” Emotional hijacking is a sudden unleashing of rage towards another person. It is an extreme emotional outburst or an emotional explosion caused by an incident that may trigger anger or fear in an individual. Many car accidents have been caused by people who got angry at someone while they were behind the wheel of a car. Can you think of other situations where an emotional hijacking might have been the cause of an unfortunate result?

The same thing happens at work, or at social gatherings.  When we hear a person say something we really don’t agree with, the first instinct for many of us is to get a little upset and respond quickly with some sort of counter opinion. This reaction can be even quicker if the subject being discussed in near and dear to our heart. According to a number of researches, the person’s success at work is 80% dependent on emotional intelligence. If a person is looking to become a leader in there chosen career or social network, EQ is the foundation of leadership.

Have you ever said anything to someone that you wish you could take back quickly?

For many of us, the answer to the above question is a strong YES!  I’ve been guilty of that on a number of occasions. Friendships have been strained, families have been split up (some for generations), and wars have even been fought due to people reacting too quickly with their emotions.

So the next time someone says something that you don’t agree with, and you find yourself getting upset and wanting to verbally cut them off by responding quickly, understand that it may be your emotions beginning to take over your reasoning leading you to say something you may regret.

Do you know of someone who would benefit from having a better understanding of Emotional Intelligence?

Do you have some opinions about Emotional Intelligence? Share them with the rest of us! We’d love to know them! 🙂

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5 Intelligent Opinions, Leave Yours on Part of Emotional Intelligence is Self-Awareness…Unfortunately, Not Everyone Knows That!

  1. JLOstern on Tue, 24th Nov 2009 11:06 pm
  2. Great Article Gil!

    I didn’t really understand much about EI but your article gave me a better understanding of it. I love the book carousel with your recommendations. I’m going to check some of these out now.



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  3. Amanda Knight on Thu, 15th Apr 2010 12:52 pm
  4. Hi Gil

    Love the post – couldn’t agree with you more!! I’ve been working with EI since 1999, and have been developing my own EI since way before then too! I work an approach to EI development called ‘Applied emotional intelligence’ – ‘integrating thinking and feeling when choosing what to do’. Self awareness is absolutely key – if you do not understand how your thinking and feeling is defining your behaviour you cannot make sustainable personal change (you will always slip back into habitual emotional patterns).

    Can I add a book to your list of great EI books?? I co-authored the book ‘Applied EI’ with Tim Sparrow who developed the Applied EI approach, and we explore how attitudes underpin our emotional intelligence. An attitude is predominantly made up of feelings towards or away from something. Our fundamental attitudes are those towards ourselves, others and life. If we develop healthy attitudes we will naturally act with emotional intelligence, and create great outcomes in our lives!

    Best wishes

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  5. Gil Pizano on Sat, 17th Apr 2010 11:27 am
  6. Thanks Amanda for the feedback and thoughts on the post. I love what you said about how “Self aware­ness is absolutely key — if you do not under­stand how your think­ing and feel­ing is defin­ing your behav­iour you can­not make sus­tain­able per­sonal change (you will always slip back into habit­ual emo­tional patterns).

    This is so true and is one of the main messages I wish to have people understand. I’ll be picking up your book so that I can read it and recommend it. Believe it or not, I read just about everything I recommend. I’m a big student of emotional intelligence, and leadership so I’m sure I’ll enjoy reading it.


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  7. Micheal Ackert on Thu, 14th Apr 2011 12:54 am
  8. Thanks for this very good information Gil!

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  9. NittaRoy on Wed, 16th Apr 2014 6:43 am
  10. Hi,
    That is really nice post.
    For most people, emotional intelligence (EQ) is more important than one’s intelligence (IQ) in attaining success in their lives and careers. As individuals our success and the success of the profession today depend on our ability to read other people’s signals and react appropriately to them.
    NittaRoy recently posted..Are You Ready For Changing Eating Habits To Lose Weight ?My Profile

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