We continually remind our clients that Emotional Intelligence – your EQ can be developed. Unlike IQ (our hardwired ability to learn) your EQ is a set of skills that can be learned and then enhanced with practice, practice, practice!
The team at TalentSmart - authors of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and group of PhD’s and neuroscientists much more knowledgable than me, offer this explanation for how our brain rewires itself to be more emotionally intelligent. Here is what they have to say:
“The communication between your emotional and rational “brains” is the physical source of emotional intelligence. The pathway for emotional intelligence starts in the brain, at the spinal cord. Your primary senses enter here and must travel to the front of your brain before you can think rationally about your experience. However, first they travel through the limbic system, the place where emotions are generated. So, we have an emotional reaction to events before our rational mind is able to engage. Emotional intelligence requires effective communication between the rational and emotional centers of the brain.
“Plasticity” is the term neurologists use to describe the brain’s ability to change. Your brain grows new connections as you learn new skills. The change is gradual, as your brain cells develop new connections to speed the efficiency of new skills acquired.
Using strategies to increase your emotional intelligence allows the billions of microscopic neurons lining the road between the rational and emotional centers of your brain to branch off small “arms” (much like a tree) to reach out to the other cells. A single cell can grow 15,000 connections with its neighbors. This chain reaction of growth ensures it’s easier to kick this new behavior into action in the future. Once you train your brain by repeatedly using new emotional intelligence strategies, emotionally intelligent behaviors become habits.”
Fascinating, right? I love the idea of neuroplasticity. Pat’s mom always told him he just had to eat tuna sandwiches to get smarter, but the fact that our brain can physically change means we can exercise our brain (no sweat, no gear required). For those of you are interested in putting it to practice, I recommend Lumosity, the brain training tool developed by the neuroscientists at Lumos Labs. Available on the web, mobile devices and tablets – it’s a great way to condition your brain for the “heavy lifting” required to develop your EQ competencies.