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What is Emotional Intelligence & How Can it Make You a Better Leader

Emotions are not just felt within the individual they appear in the body language and facial expressions and are the underlying energy of relationships and connections. Emotions are what hold together and break apart families and nations; emotions are a massive contributing factor for effective leadership in workplaces and the community.

Emotions underpin everything and you can reflect on and become aware of how, why, when and where your emotions interact with, and contribute or sabotage your thinking and behaviour. Developing your emotional intelligence you will strengthen your ability to connect and lead others, achieve your professional or personal goals that you value and help you live a meaningful life.

Understanding, feeling and processing your emotions is not a "soft" skill rather it is a sign of an incredible resilience, intelligence, awareness and strength to understand your emotions. But humans can be uncomfortable with some emotions that they develop all kinds of behaviours to avoid, resist and repress or experience only a certain range of emotions. In the long run not feeling and processing emotion can be harmful for mental, physical and social health and cut you off from experiencing a meaningful life and truly knowing yourself and others.

Think for a moment about how much a person is able to convey with just a facial expression. A smile can indicate approval with happiness, while a frown can signal disapproval or unhappiness. Sometimes our facial expression can give away our true feelings about a situation. You might say you're doing fine but the look on your face is saying otherwise. When our emotions and thinking are working together and behaviour reflects our inner work congruently we have higher levels of overall wellbeing.

The way we revel some of our emotions interpersonally:

Emotions expressed through our facial expressions.

Happiness is often expressed through the eyes, the upturned corners of the mouth and stretching of the major muscles in the face. The upturned eyebrows and the lips all move in a way that is subconsciously recognisable to us as genuine happiness.

Sadness is expressed through a strong curving in the facial muscle and eyebrow. The eyes appear to be gazing into space, not focussed on anything in particular. Sadness is difficult to fake, it is easier to fake tears than the facial expression of sadness, this is why we almost always know when we are being emotionally manipulated.

Fear is the most obvious emotions because our eyes widen, the eyelids rise and the lower eyelids tense. The eyebrows pull together and upwards and lips strength horizontally toward the ears. Fear also comes with a lot of changes in the body, for example more blood flow to the legs in preparation to run - flight mode becomes switch on.

Anger is quite easy to spot on the human face, there is muscle movement in the lips, around the eyes and in the brow and a narrowing of the eyes. The squinting reduces our field of vision and reflects our ancestral nature as predators allowing us hyper focus on our target. Anger is accompanied by body changes including more blood flow to the arms - fight mode becomes switch on.

• Emotions are also expressed through body language (eye movements, pressed lips, chewing lips, covering mouth), gestures (crossed arms/legs, expanding arms, open arms, keeping arms close to body, hands on hips, hands behind back, tapping fingers or fidgeting), posture (leaning in, sitting straight, slouching, open/closed body language) and verbal expressions (tone, pitch, pace, volume and by drawing out words).

Developing emotional intelligence can be a fun and exciting journey and you may begin by just tuning in and watching others and observing them. Practice consciously connecting their facial expressions, body language and words to their emotions and see how much data you can read from this observation. Practice attending to non-verbal data in your communications and interactions with other people and look for signs that make peoples emotions public. Look for the consistencies and inconsistencies between words, tone and expressions and don't be disparaged when you see them because people will often do all kinds of things not to feel their emotions. Lastly seek feedback by sharing your reflections of what you're observing to validate whether what you read was accurate.


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