After many years of research, it has been proven that performance, happiness and success in life are not based on intelligence alone as previously assumed. Rather, it is the ability to understand emotions—your own emotions as well as that of others—that determines the likelihood for long-term achievement.
As such, emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ) is considered an important skill that can be learned and mastered over time. So, does this automatically mean that emotional intelligence can be improved with age? Here are a few important things to consider.
Emotional Intelligence and Maturity
When it comes to emotional intelligence and age, it is first important to view emotional intelligence from the point of view of being a skill that can be developed over a lifetime. Also keep in mind that while some people can fully grasp a skill with ease, others will need training, practice and experience to understand the concept.
This is why it is so important for emotional intelligence to be taught throughout childhood—from nursery through high school. Studies have shown that children who are emotionally intelligent grow up to be emotionally intelligent adults. Such children will have an opportunity to improve this important skill set over time and ultimately will develop emotional wisdom for a lifetime of success.
Emotional intelligence is also tied to maturity level since those with a high EQ tend to see the bigger picture—a characteristic of maturity. Being emotionally intelligent means that you can manage and balance emotion and reason. Take for instance someone who is feeling angry. A mature, and emotionally intelligent person will not place the blame for their feelings on anyone else but themselves.
They will recognise they are angry and understand that they alone control their reactions to people and circumstances—not the other way around. In short, a mature, emotionally intelligent person will accurately recognise their emotions and take full responsibility for them.
While many of the details between emotional intelligence among age groups is yet to be discovered, what is known is that maturity is also associated with good decision-making skills. However, sound decision-making is not fully developed until early adulthood, usually in a person’s 20’s, because the brain’s pre-frontal cortex has not fully developed yet.
This means that from a physical perspective, older people may have an easier time regulating their emotions and understanding what other people are going through because their brains are better wired to do so than someone who is younger.
Furthermore, emotionally intelligent people are adept at making the better decisions because they often do so based on the long-term best interests of the given outcome.
Going back to the previous example, a mature person will recognise that it is in their best interests to not place blame on the other party because doing so could damage their relationship over the long-term and also cause the other person to experience negative emotions. Again, they will see the bigger picture of the situation.
However, an immature person with low EQ may instead seek immediate gratification and place blame on the other person just to make themselves feel better. The latter will not show empathy or compassion and their immature behaviour will only hinder the situation.
So, How Can You Ensure You Continue to Develop EQ?
Emotional intelligence guides behaviours so that people respond to their own emotions as well as others. It is comprised of the emotional world and feelings that are being felt internally as well as those being expressed by those around you.
Therefore, practice the fundamentals of emotional intelligence and teach it to your children. From improved empathy, to self-awareness, to self-regulation, motivation, and social awareness—mastery of such skills will result in a lifetime of emotionally intelligent behaviour and positive encounters.
Remember, emotional intelligence is a skill that can be developed with time for a deeper understanding of the true power of emotions. And as with any learned skill, practice will make perfect.
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