Emotional Intelligence and Competence

Most of us in the developed world live a busy life with many challenges and demands on our time. With such a lifestyle it is easy to lose touch with yourself and hard to genuinely connect with others.

The term Emotional Intelligence (EQ) has been popularised by Daniel Goleman and others as a way of talking about the whole business of keeping in touch with your internal processes and imaginatively connecting with those of other people.

Personally, I prefer to talk about Emotional Competence, because many people tend to think of intelligence as being something quite fixed, even though we know that isn't really the case, whereas we all know that we can get better at a task with a little effort and practice.

The obvious question is 'what kind of effort and practice?'

To start with, it means paying attention to what's going on in your body, because this is where our feelings are felt - especially around the belly, the heart and the solar plexus (which is between the two). If you're not used to doing this it can take a while to feel anything at all, but after a while you can begin to distinguish a range of different sensations.

Then you have to work out what the body is trying to communicate to you, making the connection between the physical (somatic) experiences and your emotions.

Lastly you need to choose the most appropriate way to respond in a situation, which might not be just to express the anger, distress or fear that you are feeling. This means you have to be able to create a bit of space between your experience and your response.

Like many things, this sounds a bit odd put into words, when it's actually a very fluid and sometimes ill-defined process in real life. Soon I'll provide some further pages with more information on ways of thinking about and developing Emotional Competence - and perhaps most importantly, why you might bother.