Magazine Online  |  November 15, 2021

An Opinion Piece: Is It people with emotional intelligence are more likely to value social and ecological agenda?

By Afaf Ibrahim
Emotional Intelligence Practitioner – Genos Certified
Email: [email protected]

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is described as an individual’s ability to understand and manage his or her emotions as well as those of others around him or her. An emotionally intelligent person can differentiate various feelings and label them appropriately and use emotional information to guide their thinking and behaviour. Most importantly, the person can assess how their emotions affect other people. The person can also manage and/or adjust their emotions with changing circumstance to achieve their goal (s).

Why does Emotional Intelligence matter for success in life?

There are 34,000 different emotions that one can experience. Each emotion leads to automatic responses that may have an impact on relationships, decision-making, future planning, health, and lifestyle. The human brain has an almond-shape set of neurons known as the “Amygdala”, which forms part of the limbic system and plays a key role in the processing of emotions. Feelings such as anger, fear, sadness, and other negative emotions are linked to the Amygdala.
The Amygdala is responsible for detecting threats and maintaining the survival mode. That is why we are afraid of things outside of our control. The Amygdala then processes automatic responses to events where potential danger is perceived.

Learning how to analyse one’s emotions objectively and to manage responses effectively will increase a person’s ability to realise better outcomes in every aspect of life. The Genos EI Model has six dimensions that relate to behaviours, performance, and decision-making which can be measured and developed. These six dimensions represent the core Emotional Intelligence competencies:

  • Self-awareness is about how aware one is of their feelings, and how much our feelings have an impact or influence on one’s decisions, performance, and behaviours
  • Awareness of others is about how empathetic or sensitive one is about others’ feelings
  • Authenticity is about one’s abilities to openly express themself so that others can appreciate one’s genuine traits
  • Emotional reasoning means that one should consider their own and others’ feelings in the decision-making process, and try to identify information in feelings, and corroborating this information with facts, and then communicating this decision-making process with others
  • Self-management is about being composed and resilient, having the ability to handle challenges and stress, and not being temperamental at work
  • Positive influence manifests through the ability to empower and positively influence others. This trait enables one to motivate others to cooperate and to bring about high levels of performance and productivity from others.

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Emotional Intelligence in the Social and Ecological context

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen every leader on the planet facing the same risks. Yet each leader has reacted in a different way. Leadership style is derived from diversity in culture, context, risk attitude, and risk appetite. Every leader is now judged by their results. Each leader’s response to COVID-19 shows us the different sides of leadership

For example: US President Donald Trump has been criticised worldwide for his handling of the coronavirus crisis, being insensitive and indifferent. This contrasts with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s leadership style, who has focused on empathy which has helped her country to put on track against the coronavirus.

EI is a critical trait that leaders need to be equipped with to handle change and unforeseen crises.

Similarly, in the climate change debate, much of the solution lies in the emotional intelligence of the leader and of wider society. We saw how former US Vice-President Al Gore and a 16-year old young climate change activist Greta Thunberg attracted the attention of millions to act “quickly” and “drastically” on the climate change agenda because of their “positive influence” – a EI trait. Both have motivated us to think about the millions of people who are, and will be, affected by climate change and made us think to choose between our short-term profit and our long-term disasters.

In a separate study entitled The role of emotional intelligence as an underlying factor towards social acceptance of green investments, by Stamatios Ntanos, Garyfallos Arabatzis, and Chalikias Miltiadis found ‘…the existence of a positive correlation between emotional intelligence traits and willingness to invest in renewable energy sources…’. Their study also found a ‘…significant correlation… between emotional intelligence and citizens’ views about the contribution of renewable energy sources to life quality and environmental improvement …’.

Hence, in my opinion, we need to improve human-to-human emotional consciousness at a societal level, and our leaders need to learn how to improve the human-to-human emotional consciousness of wider society to tackle many of our economic, social, and environmental issues. It is true that to tackle climate change, we need a large amount of economic resources. Emotional awareness is about recognising and understanding one’s own emotions, and recognising drivers of our behaviour, making decisions on optimal on the use of resources and its impact, considering the needs of others, and whether we should go after short-term profits or long-term disasters. Hence emotionally intelligent leader and society can make intelligent decision on optimal recourse allocation for climate change mitigation steps.

Furthermore, developing and practicing a communication style based on understanding one’s own emotions and, at the same time, being motivational and understanding the emotions of others can create a pathway for open and effective dialogue through empathy and caring for others’ needs of. This EI trait can improve interpersonal relationships and organisational performance and can create resilient sustainable communities.

Therefore, Emotional Intelligence (EI) matters for success in every aspect our life.