In this article, I’ll show you three high powered examples of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence, boiled down to the basics, measures three emotional competencies:
First, the ability to know and acknowledge your emotional experiences in the moment. This is emotional self-awareness.
Second, the ability to regulate your emotions by soothing yourself. This is emotional regulation.
Third, the ability to recognize and reflect back other people’s emotions. This is empathy. I call it “Listening Others Into Existence.”
When you can name your emotions, soothe yourself, and reflect back the emotions of people around you, you will score high on emotional intelligence tests because you are emotionally competent.
Workplace Examples of Emotional Intelligence
You are on a team that has a project deadline. One of your team members forgot an important piece of work, which has caused some chaos and upset.
You feel the upset. You are angry, frustrated, and feel disrespected. You feel a little betrayed and abandoned by your colleague.
You say to yourself, “I’m upset, angry and frustrated. I feel disrespected. I feel abandoned and betrayed.” You immediately notice that you are calming down.
This technique is called self-affect labelling. Brain scanning studies have demonstrated why self-affect labeling is such a powerful form of emotional self-regulation.
Listening Others Into Existence
Rather than yell at your colleague, you say “John, you are frustrated. You feel embarrassed and sad. You are anxious and concerned.”
“Yes, exactly,” responds John.
“You are sorry and feel badly about this situation,” you say.
“Exactly. Thanks for listening to me and understanding how miserable I feel,” John says.
This is third party affect labeling. It is the purest form of cognitive empathy and calms down upset people in seconds.
If you can label your own emotions and reflect the emotions of others as these emotional intelligence examples illustrate, you will score high on assessments and tests.
Here’s another article on leadership and emotional intelligence.
Examples Of Emotional Intelligence In The Classroom
Emotional intelligence in the classroom is called socio-emotional learning (SEL). Research shows that SEL not only improves achievement by an average of 11 percentile points, but it also increases prosocial behaviors (such as kindness, sharing, and empathy), improves student attitudes toward school, and reduces depression and stress among students. Of course, a teacher must be emotionally competent and score well on emotional intelligence tests to be able to teach and model SEL to students.
Here is are examples of emotional intelligence in the classroom. Ms. Jones, a fifth grade teacher, has observed Mary, one of her students, not paying attention and distracting other girls in the class.
Ms. Jones is aware that she is frustrated, angry, feels disrespected, not listened to and unappreciated.
She regulates her feelings by labeling them to herself. “I’m feeling frustrated and angry. I feel disrespected, not listened to and unappreciated. I’m anxious that I am not controlling my classroom culture.”
Listening Others Into Existence
Instead of telling Mary to pay attention, which has not changed Mary’s behavior or attention, Ms. Jones models socio-emotional skills by saying in a private conversation with Mary, “Mary, you are bored and uninterested. You find the material difficult to understand and you are frustrated by it.”
Mary remains silent.
Ms. Jones says, “You don’t feel heard and you feel unsupported. You don’t feel respected.”
Mary looks up and says, “Yes. No one listens to me.”
Ms. Jones says, “You feel ignored. That hurts and you feel rejected and abandoned.”
Mary says, “Yes,” and smiles in relief that someone finally understands her.
Examples Of Emotional Intelligence in Relationships
The emotional intelligence of partners in a romantic relationship predicts their perceptions of their relationship. Research shows that the higher their emotional intelligence, the better their relationship.
Intimate couples trigger one another. Often times, unresolved childhood issues need attention in adulthood. These issues come up as emotional triggers. For deep growth, these emotions must be felt as deeply as possible. When a dark one comes up, processing this pain with someone else is essential. In the best-case scenario, this processing can happen with a partner.
Here is a common relationship problem that illustrates powerful examples of emotional intelligence.
Gunnar and Sarah have been together for 6 months. Lately, Gunnar feels like Sarah has been controlling. Finally, they have a conversation about it.
Gunnar says, “You are always asking me a thousand questions. What’s going on? It’s like you don’t trust me or something.”
Sarah feels anger, frustration disrespect, and hurt. She feels insulted and belittled. She also feels humiliated and embarrassed because she knows Gunnar is right.
Sarah silently says to herself, “I feel frustrated, disrespected, and hurt. I feel insulted and belittled. I feel ashamed and embarrassed.” She sees that she is calming down almost instantly. She recognizes that Gunnar just triggered her.
Listening Others Into Existence
She looks at Gunnar and says, “You feel angry and frustrated. You never feel like you are enough, You don’t feel listened to and you feel disrespected.”
“You are hurt, and feel abandoned and rejected.”
“You are unhappy. You feel insulted and belittled.”
Gunnar sighs, “Yes. That’s exactly how I feel. Thank you for listening.”
Then Gunnar says to Sarah, “You are anxious and afraid. You don’t feel in control. You feel vulnerable and exposed.”
“Yes,” Sarah says softly.
“You are afraid of being abandoned and rejected. You feel unloved and unlovable.”
“Yes, that’s how I feel.”
“This frightens you and you are scared.”
Gunnar asks, “Is there anything else?”
Sarah sighs, and says, “No. That’s it. Thanks for listening to me.”
These are examples of high relationship emotional intelligence. Neither Gunnar nor Sarah became defensive or started name-calling. They each focused on their own feelings first, then when calm, reflected the feelings of the other.
Examples of Low Emotional Intelligence
- A person with low emotional intelligence will likely have emotional outbursts, typically out of proportion to the situation at hand.
- People with low emotional intelligence have difficulty listening to others emotions.
- People with low emotional intelligence protect their vulnerability by arguing.
- People with emotional intelligence do a lot of blaming.
The most common form of low emotional intelligence is psychological or emotional invalidation.
Psychological invalidation is one of the most lethal forms of emotional abuse. It kills confidence, creativity, and individuality. It shuts down the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, thus inhibiting reasoning, rationality, and non-impulsive decision-making.
Each person’s feelings are real. Rejecting, invalidating, or minimizing their feelings is rejecting their reality.
We regularly invalidate others because we ourselves were, and are, invalidated, so it has become habitual.
People with high cognitive intelligence (IQ) and low emotional intelligence (EQ) tend to use logic to address emotional issues. How many times have you said or thought, “You are not being rational. Feeling the way you do will not solve your problem. Let’s look at the facts and consider your risks.”
Actually, feelings are facts, fleeting though they may be. Addressing feelings with logic tends to confuse, sadden, or infuriate a person. Or, it may eventually isolate them from their feelings, with a resulting loss of a major part of their natural intelligence.
You can’t solve an emotional problem with logic alone.
Here are some examples of emotional invalidation demonstrating low emotional intelligence:
Ordering You To “Feel” Differently
“Don’t be sad.”
“Don’t get angry.”
“Deal with it.”
“Give it a rest.”
“Forget about it.”
Denying Your Perception, Defending
“You’ve got it all wrong.”
“But of course I respect you.”
“But I do listen to you.”
“That is ridiculous (nonsense, totally absurd, etc.)”
“I was only kidding.”
“That’s not the way things are.”
Trying to Make You Feel Guilty While Invalidating You
“I tried to help you…”
“At least I….”
“At least you….”
“You are making everyone else miserable.”
Minimizing Your Feelings
“You must be kidding.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“It can’t be that bad.”
“You are just … (being difficult; being dramatic, in a bad mood, tired, etc)”
“It’s nothing to get upset over.”
“There’s nothing wrong with you.”
Validate Emotions for High Emotional Intelligence
Learning how to validate your emotions and the emotions of other people is the fasted path to increasing your emotional intelligence. Remember to practice these three steps:
Ignore the Words
Listen to the Emotions
Reflect Back the Emotions with a Simple “You” Statement.