How College Students Can Improve Their Emotional Intelligence

How College Students Can Improve Their Emotional Intelligence

How College Students Can Improve Their Emotional Intelligence banner

Having high emotional intelligence (EI), also known as emotional quotient or EQ, can help college students better manage their emotions and the emotions of others. It can also help them find more success in the classroom and prepare for a successful career. A high EQ can help you in many ways, not only at school. With a high EQ, it will be easier for you to build stronger relationships, be less likely to make decisions that you may regret out of anger or frustration, and be better able to build and work with a team on school projects and, ultimately, in the business world. So, what is emotional intelligence and how do you build your EQ?

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence refers to how well a person can identify, control, and evaluate emotions, both in themselves and in others. Some researchers think these skills are genetic, but most believe they can be learned or at least strengthened. Virtually all agree it takes both a high emotional quotient (EQ) as well as a high IQ to be successful in life.

According to Margaret Andrews, a former associate dean at Harvard University’s Division of Continuing Education and a current instructor in Harvard’s Emotional Intelligence in Leadership Program, ‘Emotional intelligence is critical in building and maintaining relationships and influencing others—key skills that help people throughout their career and wherever they sit in an organizational structure,’

Four Components of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence can be broken down into four key components:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management

1. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness refers to how well a person understands their own emotions. Self-awareness is the cornerstone of EI, and the other three components all depend on how well a person masters self-awareness. This trait involves being cognizant of how your emotions affect others. Many believe that self-aware individuals are more creative and confident, and that they make better decisions.

2. Self-Management

Self-management builds on self-awareness. Good self-management means that, since you are aware of your emotions, you can control and manage them and the behaviors that result. One good example of this is stepping back and taking a deep breath when something angers you rather than immediately lashing out verbally or physically. Angry decisions and interpersonal communications are rarely compatible.

3. Social Awareness

The key component in social awareness is empathy. Someone with good social awareness is able to relate to what others are feeling and act accordingly. This differs from putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Social awareness is about what the other person is feeling, not what you would feel in their place. People with strong social awareness skills tend to be kind and well-respected.

4. Relationship Management

Relationship management, also referred to as social skills, is often what differentiates a good manager from a mediocre one. These skills include influence, conflict management, teamwork, and the ability to inspire others. They are not only beneficial for creating strong working relationships, but they can help with every relationship in a person’s life, including family dynamics, romantic relationships, and project teams at school.

Benefits of Emotional Intelligence

Having higher job satisfaction and being happier in life are just two of the many benefits of cultivating a high EQ. According to “Psych Central,” some of the other benefits in the workplace include:

The ability to meet and adjust to deadlines

People with a high EQ understand deadlines and can work well within those parameters without undue stress.

Accepting criticism and learning from it

No one likes criticism; however, a person with a high EQ doesn’t take criticism personally. Instead, they use criticism as a learning opportunity and a way to build their EQ.

Getting along in the workplace

You need to be able to understand and work with a variety of co-workers, including those from different backgrounds and with different opinions. In the workplace as well as at school, you’ll find people from different cultures and who grew up with different circumstances. It’s important to be able to work with them just as you would someone who grew up next door to you.

Being open to change in the workplace

Too often workers fear change and cling to the old ways of doing things. People with high EQs embrace change and look forward to new ways to improve.

How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

We side with the opinion that a person’s emotional intelligence can be improved and strengthened with time and effort. Some of the ways to improve your emotional intelligence include:

1. Practice Self-Awareness

As we mentioned above, good self-awareness is essential to a high EQ. Some ways to increase your self-awareness include practicing mindfulness, which is concentrating on the present and avoiding unnecessary worry about the future. You can also ask trusted friends and family to give you feedback on how empathetic, flexible, cooperative, and adaptable you are. Use that feedback to grow and improve your EI.

2. Empathize with Others

Being able to understand what others are feeling is also important to cultivating a high EQ. You can increase your ability to do this by reading novels or articles, watching movies, and even appreciating art. The key here is to get you to feel something; it can be anger, grief, joy, or any other emotion.

3. Stay Positive

Being positive not only makes you more pleasant to be around, but also helps your brain function better. Positive affirmations may sound like a self-help fad, but spending 3-5 minutes each day reciting your goals or something positive about you and your life can help reduce stress and increase learning functions. Affirmations also help banish negative thoughts and help you have a cheerier outlook on life.

4. Listen to Feedback

It can be challenging to receive feedback, especially if some of it is constructive criticism. Instead of becoming defensive and making excuses when someone is giving you feedback, use those moments to grow and reflect on what you might do differently the next time you are in a similar situation. Receiving feedback is the ultimate test of your listening skills. Even if you can’t process the information right then, practice listening and make a note of what they tell you for further reflection later.

5. Understand Your Motivations

Sometimes we act impulsively without fully realizing why. A person with a high EQ strives to understand the motivation behind his or her actions before making a move. This not only prevents making bad, impulsive decisions, but helps the person become more self-aware. It’s not always easy.

Entire books have been written about how to understand your motivations. However, a good start is to make sure you are acting on fact and not just perception. We all bring our past experiences and beliefs into the decision-making process. A good manager makes sure that they aren’t letting those things unduly influence their decisions.

6. Keep Negative Emotions in Check

People with high EQs rarely react in anger or frustration. Instead, they measure their responses and only act when they have their emotions under control and when they feel they can express their feelings constructively. It’s also helpful in keeping negative emotions and thoughts at bay to practice meditation, reflection, or prayer and to actively concentrate on affirmations or good thoughts when you feel yourself feeling angry.

7. Network

Networking gives you the opportunity to talk with more people, and the more people you encounter, the more you’ll be able to practice empathy and relationship building. You can find networking events on your school’s bulletin boards, online via networking sites like LinkedIn, and through your school’s alumni organization. The contacts you make at these events can also help you down the road in your business career, by giving you leads to new customers and new suppliers and sharing leads on new career opportunities. According to, being social and interacting with others is one of the best ways to boost your emotional intelligence.

Earning your degree from Johnson & Wales University

Johnson & Wales University, founded in 1914, offers a variety of undergraduate and advanced business degrees. This includes Bachelor of Science (BS) and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) degree programs in 15 specialties. If you want to pursue a career in psychology and help people with their emotional intelligence, the university also offers a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

Johnson & Wales has campuses in Charlotte, NC and Providence, RI. Some Johnson & Wales degree programs are offered online, offering students the advantage of being able to complete classwork and listen to lectures on their own schedule.

Johnson & Wales University has a current enrollment of around 8,000 undergraduate, graduate, and online students. The university is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. Johnson & Wales offers a variety of financial aid packages to help make earning your degree more affordable.

If you’re interested in topics like emotional intelligence, a career in psychology could be for you! Earn your bachelor’s degree in psychology online from Johnson & Wales University. For more information about completing your degree online or on-campus, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].

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