How to increase your EQ as an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person)
How to increase your EQ as an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person)
Emotional intelligence may be something you've heard of, but what is it and why should you care?
In our everyday lives we are constantly displaying our emotional intelligence, usually without even knowing it. We do it when we are communicating with friends, partners, with our kids and of course when we are at work.
But What Is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?
Emotional Intelligence consists of a group of personal and social competencies. It has been defined by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, the leading researchers on the subject as, “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”, in 1990.
It describes the ability to handle your own feelings and empathize with the feelings of others to balance yourself well in every circumstance.
Your emotional intelligence is often defined by the way you can manage your emotions to better yourself in any environment. This can include working well under stress and handling the relationships you create with friends, co-workers, employers and employees, contractors and clients in a personal, yet professional manner. It helps you to keep a level head and to realize that the emotional needs of both yourself and others is invaluable.
Unlike IQ, EQ can be acquired and improved with practice.
What Are The Emotional Intelligence Skills?
Emotional intelligence covers skills in four important areas:
1. Self-awareness. Self-awareness includes being aware of your own feelings in the present and also your emotional patterns on an ongoing basis.
2. Self-management. Self-management refers to your ability to use the information that your emotions provide in a positive and constructive way.
3. Social awareness. Social awareness is your ability to be aware of and understand the feelings of another person.
4. Relationship management. Relationship management refers to your ability to manage your relationships using your skills at understanding yourself and others.
Emotional Intelligence is not as new as many people believe, nor is it a hype or a trend. It seems new because it was pushed aside due to our modern day fixation on data and rationalism at any cost.
But now the time has come to shift from data and rationalism to feeling and social consciousness. Slowly we are realizing again the need for taking care of personality, emotions and connections.
Why Emotional Intelligence Is Important For Sensitive People
Emotional intelligence is an exceptionally important skill for HSP's (Highly Sensitive People) and empaths because the better you are able to handle social differences and your own feelings the greater the success you can have. For highly sensitive people who suffer from overwhelm and overstimulation, handling their own emotions can be a real challenge.
Not sure if you are highly sensitive? Take the quiz and find out!
But, as highly sensitive people, we have a big advantage when it comes to empathy.
Combine that with our sensitivity and deep processing talents and we can bring a lot of humanity and wisdom to any social situation. It also means that we HSP's are able to navigate values and other differences very well. Because of our empathy and depth, highly sensitive people can find imaginative ways to create common ground with others.
Emotional intelligence also means being able to take care of yourself. It means being able to identify emotional vampires and other draining people and prevent them from taking advantage of you. Emotional intelligence is an important learning subject that anyone can benefit from but from which HSPs, in particular, have much to gain because we tend to put ourselves and out needs last.
Not really a quiz taker? Or do you want to find out if someone else is an HSP? Download the free HSP Checklist.
In this article I want to discuss 5 things that can help you increase your emotional intelligence as an HSP.
Assertiveness may be difficult for many introverts, empaths and highly sensitive people, not because of who we are but because we have experienced the assertiveness of an extrovert-centric mentality for so long. We have bent ourselves out of shape to suit the shape we think people expect us to be, believing that the problem is that we ourselves are out of shape.
In the context of individuals, assertiveness is the quiet confidence to accept who we really are, what we want to do and to give ourselves the permission to pursue what we feel pulling at us deep within.
Assertiveness consists of three basic components:
1. The ability to express feelings (for example, to accept and express anger, warmth)
2. The ability to express beliefs and thoughts openly (being able to voice opinions, disagree, and take a definite stand, even if it is emotionally difficult to do so and even if you have something to lose by doing so)
3. The ability to stand up for personal rights (not allowing other to bother you or take advantage of you). Assertive people are not over controlled or shy - they are able to express their feelings and beliefs (often directly) and they do so without being aggressive or abusive
People often confuse assertiveness and aggression. It can feel like a delicate balance not least because we see assertiveness as something to turn on and off rather than a way of being. An assertive person maintains a stable and consistent presence at all times. When they speak up it doesn’t feel like an outburst or some kind of ‘putting their foot down’. It has a gentle authority that doesn’t put others on the defensive.
The Highly Sensitive brain has a more active insula, the part of the brain that helps enhance perception and increases self-awareness. HSPs are also wired to pause and reflect before engaging. Therefore, HSPs are always taking in a lot of information around them and thinking deeply about it.
So much of our personal happiness depends on knowing ourselves. We know ourselves better than others do, and yet we don’t often take the time to discover our strengths and weaknesses.
Did you ever think that something about yourself was different?
Were you puzzled about what that difference was?
Were you frustrated that something seemed to be holding you back?
(Emotional) Self-awareness is the ability to recognize your feelings, differentiate between them, know why you are feeling these feelings and recognize the impact your feelings have on others around you. It’s the foundation on which most of the other elements of emotional intelligence are built, it is the necessary first step toward exploring and coming to understand yourself and toward change.
Whenever you feel yourself tensing up or getting emotional, instead of moving into reactionary emotions, try if you can find out why you are feeling that particular emotion at that particular time.
Ask yourself: “how am I feeling right now? Why? Why am I feeling this emotion? By asking yourself these questions you are getting to know yourself, your triggers, your stress and your emotions better and that way you get to decide how you want to react thus giving you a greater sense of control.
Want to turn your sensitivity into an advantage? Register now for my free video mini-course “5 Essential strategies for HSP's”
Empathy is the ability to be aware of, understand, and appreciate the feelings and thoughts of others. Being emphatic means to be sensitive to what, how, and why people feel and think the way they do. Being empathic also means that you are able to “read” other people's emotions. Empathetic people care about others and show interest in and concern for them. Emphatic people are able to put into words their understanding of the other person’s perspective on the world without judgement, even when they do not agree with it, or find that perspective ridiculous. Empaths are able to shift from being someone's “enemy” to someone's adversary, but empathy does not mean being “nice” to others. Empathy is a skill that allows you to see and experience the world from another person’s perspective. Putting that understanding into words solidifies your relationship with that other person, and shifts it from an adversarial into a collaborative relationship.
It is very important that we show others our empathy! We never know how someones day went, or what’s going on in their lives, or if this is their own way of being. So regardless of anything, kindness and empathy will be key to putting yourself in the another persons shoes and keep you open to the resolution possibilities.
When it comes to empathy, it’s all about balance. Having too little empathy could look like being “uncompassionate”, maybe even “self-centered” and could create the idea that people are only looking out for themselves or trying to create change for egocentric reasons. On the other side, being too empathetic can lead to withholding information in order to not hurt the other’s feelings. You can probably see why both are undesirable.
4. Interpersonal Relationships
By interpersonal relationships, I mean the ability to establish and maintain mutually satisfying relationships that are characterized by the ability to both “give” and “take” and where thrust and compassion are openly expressed in words and/or by behavior. Mutual satisfaction includes meaningful social interchanges that are potentially rewarding and enjoyable and characterized by give and take and by being sensitive towards others and their needs.
Highly sensitive people often struggle with interpersonal relationships because HSPs are different and their difference often results in relationship problems. Social relationships can be a challenge for highly sensitive people because cultural norms do not acknowledge and validate the highly sensitive person – male or female. Another way to look at it is that our social models have built in certain assumptions about people and what we can expect from them, and should be able to expect from them. That these assumptions may be wrong is rarely addressed, with the consequence that many HSP’s lives are made miserable because they are trying to relate based on incorrect ideas.
This component of emotional intelligence is not only associated with the desire to cultivate friendly relations with others but with the ability to feel at ease and comfortable in such relations, and possess positive expectations concerning social interactions.
Interested in the 9 steps how to go from being overwhelmed to turning your sensitivity into your Super Power? Get your copy of the HSP Survival Guide Today!
5. Emotional Expression
Have you ever listened to someone who had a blank expression? When their words said one thing, but their expression didn’t correlate with the sentiment? Perhaps they gave you a compliment but their face remained cold? If so, how did you feel? Did you trust what they said? Even babies become wary of their mothers when their words are delivered with an unresponsive expression, which may even lead to withdrawal.
Emotional expressions are necessary to enhance messages, to convey authenticity and to develop trust. How we interact with people will determine how they will respond to us and we can control this when we are aware of how we come across with non-verbal communication such as facial expressions. A simple comment or throwaway remark can do a lot of damage if delivered with a pre-occupied face that is thinking about an unrelated problem or task.
Emotional expression involves openly expressing feelings both verbally and non-verbally. In our interactions with others, whether or not we are aware of it, we constantly give out messages at an emotional level. These messages can be conveyed through the words we use and their meaning, the tone and volume of our speech, the expression on our face and our body language. Others register these emotional messages that we send out; they also register their responses to them, both consciously and unconsciously. People who exhibit effective emotional expression are open and congruent in the emotional message they send to others.
Knowing how to share your ideas and opinions while using the right tone of voice and correct body language will be extremely helpful during volatile situations (where “unsafe” feelings are in the air). This will be the key to the success of your participation. You want to keep your body language open, keep a calm tone of voice and be aware of how your face is talking for you as well. And by this I mean is your face telling other people the same thing as your words?
If you feel like you are struggling with your sensitivity, or if you want to be more assertive, have better interpersonal relationships, be more self-aware or just want to be better at emotionally expressing yourself, I would like to offer you a free Clarity session. In it we will look at where you are now, where you want to be and which steps you need to take to get there. You will leave with an actionable step-by-step plan and new insight into yourself and your sensitivity. Book your free Clarity Session now.
In summary, using your Emotional Intelligence in every situation will get you in a better position to manage situations when stakes are running high, emotions are strong and opinions vary.
Are you ready to go and give it a try today?