Telling stories is a great way to improve your emotional intelligence (EQ). But why is that important? Because emotional intelligence is one of the main contributors to success and happiness in life. We spend most of our time in school trying to improve our cognitive intelligence (IQ) while ignoring our emotional intelligence – forgetting or ignoring that they are equally important. While your IQ will help you get that job or reach greater heights, your EQ is what will help you stay there and enjoy what you are doing. Your EQ is what helps you build a good rapport with your colleagues, deal with stress and achieve your goals.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
According to Daniel Goleman, Emotional intelligence can be defined as “a person’s ability to manage his [her] feelings so that those feelings are expressed appropriately and effectively”. Emotional Intelligence is comprised of five dimensions: self-awareness, self-regulation/self- management, motivation, empathy, and social skills.
Being emotionally intelligent, therefore, means that you are aware of your own emotional make-up (both positive and negative) – happiness, frustration, confidence, sadness, etc., and you can recognize and deal with them appropriately (self-regulation). Being emotionally intelligent means that you have a need for achievement and you can persist in the face of adversity (motivation). It also means that you are able to identify and understand the emotions other people experience, in other words, you are able to put yourself in their shoes (empathy). Having high emotional intelligence means that you are more sensitive to emotional signals from the social environment, thereby, helping you become a better colleague, brother, sister, friend or parent (social skills).
The good news is that emotional intelligence can be improved through the art of storytelling.
What is storytelling?
Storytelling is the art of conveying a message, information or wisdom, in an enjoyable way to engage an audience. The fact that it is an “art” means it requires imagination, skill and above all practice. It is not something you master after a single trial, it requires training to achieve competence. It is, however, worth the hard work because storytelling can positively impact your life in various ways. Mastering this skill can help you communicate better with your boss, colleagues, and family members.
A good story can help you get that job you have been seeking. It differentiates vibrant brands from regular businesses. It can even help you persuade your target audience to start protecting nature. It can help you connect emotionally with other people. It will also help you develop your emotional intelligence by helping you learn more about who you are and understand the people around you.
Improving your emotional intelligence through storytelling
1. Telling your story is important for you
Telling stories about your background, your struggles, your successes, the re-conceptualizations of yourself, your wants, your needs, and your future, are great ways to more fully understand the emotions attached to your collective self.
Telling your stories to friends, family members and even to strangers is a path toward self-confidence, self-esteem and self-efficacy, because you are telling yourself that you have a voice and that your story is worthy of being heard.
2. Telling your story is important for others
Telling your story helps you to be aware of your emotional state, it helps you heal, and accept your identity. But it does not end there. Once you more fully understand yourself, it becomes easier for you to identify and understand other people’s experiences. Telling stories about your past experiences also help create a connection with people who are struggling with similar issues. Knowing that you overcame your struggles will be a source of encouragement and motivation for them to do the same. This improves your emotional intelligence because it helps you become a better friend, colleague or parent.
High self-esteem and self-confidence, the ability to handle stress, the ability to form and maintain healthy relationships, and the potential to adapt easily to change – these are some of the qualities of an emotionally intelligent individual. Are these qualities needed for success? Definitely! However, do not worry if you lack some of these characteristics. You can start making improvements using storytelling.