Emotional Intelligence

How different would our world look if society valued the cultivation of EQ (emotional quotient or emotional intelligence) as much as IQ?

It is fair to say that more than a few of society’s ills result from a lack of understanding of one’s own emotions and the emotions of others. The key to gaining this understanding is linked to five main components – self-awareness, empathy, self-motivation, managing emotions and handling relationships.

A website dedicated to overcoming learning challenges,, provides examples of what these components look like:

  1. Self Awareness – Being able to answer the question “How do I feel about this?” in any given situation
  2. Empathy – Being able to understand another person’s perspective and communicate that understanding.
  3. Self-Motivation – The ability to accomplish a goal despite how one may be feeling.
  4. Managing Emotions – In the heat of a situation, being able to stop and think “Given how I feel, how should I react?”
  5. Handling Relationships – Being able to make decisions about relationships (keeping healthy relationships).

In the Torah world, mussar and middos development is a solid part of our schools’ curriculum, and it is a lifelong area of study.

As Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler writes in Michtav MaiEliyahu, vol 4, pp. 244-5),

“In your dealings with other people, do not relate to them only with cold logic. Rather take their emotions and individual personalities into consideration. These few words can take a lifetime to master. Speaking logically is generally straight and simple. But understanding the unique personalities and emotions of human beings is much more complex. As a practical tool, focus on those who interact with you in an understanding, caring way. Learn from them.”

Once a person starts to develop their EQ and begins to understand themselves, their feelings and how to regulate their emotions, they can then assess themselves in every area, including learning. When a problem arises, they can regain focus and motivate themselves despite how they may be feeling.

The critical skill of communicating effectively with others is determined by self-concept and sensitivity to and understanding of others – aspects connected to Emotional Intelligence. Much of the pain and confusion that result from misunderstandings can be avoided through a more complete awareness of the process of communication.

In today’s fast-paced world, it is easier than ever before to encounter misunderstandings via text message and email.

When these situations arise, it is vital that we take the time to understand how we feel, stop and think how we should react, try to empathize with the other party or judge them favourably, motivate ourselves to take action and then decide how to proceed with the relationship.

Part of the bedrock of CyberSem is to encourage students to grow and obtain the tools they need to thrive personally, spiritually and professionally. This includes developing study skills and time management skills, in addition to learning how to communicate effectively (an entire course is dedicated to this topic – “Writing and Speaking to be Heard”).

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