Emotional Intelligence: A skill to master.

Some months ago, I decided to quit a software internship. I left the company bitter with myself and the company itself. Never spoke to anyone about it and only close friends who came to know this later. Was it a nice decision to make? Was it necessary? Did I address the problem or did I just let my emotions control me and not use my knowledge to understand and help me reason through my emotions? ……………..Did I miss the point?

Emotional Intelligence

What is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is made up of two words that is emotional and intelligence. Being emotional is an element of driven by emotions and being intelligent means being driven by intelligence. Intersecting the two terms, we mean the ability to have capacity to use intelligence in controlling your emotions. Basically reasoning through your emotions. The ability to decelerate the rate at which emotions drives you and give room for intelligence. Sometimes emotions don’t make sense, and sometimes being emotional doesn’t mean you’re emotionally intelligent.

Why did I quit a the internship?

It took me more than eight months to secure an internship with company. When I received the offer letter, I was more than happy to see my efforts bore fruits. I was prepared and I prepared to learn as much as I could to gain as much skills I could from the internship. But this was just a “If wishes were horses, beggars could ride” notion.

After reporting to the job, I was slapped by challenges. No clear tasks were outlined for me to do. No initial training was done to me. No reference I could look at . There was no technical reference guide. No existing code was provided for me to help me better understand their coding procedures . NOTHING. I tried my best to catch up but I couldn’t. It was rough. Frequent headaches were the order of the day. I started to feel the need to quit.

I could wake up in the morning, look at the window and when I saw it was morning, I could wish the dusk could continue to delay me waking up to go to work. But still I delayed my decision to quit.(Emotions were taking over me).The biggest problem was that I did not tell anyone. I started to excuses myself somedays due to sickness but the real reason was that I was still struggling with the decision to quit. I did not tell anyone about my struggles and after four weeks of struggling, I did quit the internship. I felt free and I was happy.

After quitting?

After Christmas holidays, I was busy preparing for my Germany trip. It was time to write the 2019 goals. It was during that night, 29th Dec 2018 I started to reflect about my last internship. I felt it was my most lowest moments in 2018. But as I started to reflect about the internship, I realised I could have done things better than what I did. I did not speak about my issues to anyone. I did not alert my supervisor where I was struggling or what could be done for me to enjoy the internship. I felt despite having some issues in the company, I was quickly driven by my emotions to quit. I reflected some other instances I had made decisions which were harsh due to failure to control my emotions. I felt I was a hot tempered fellow. Some of my relationships with friends and colleagues had gone sour due to the failure of controlling my anger basically not using my intelligence when I was angry. I felt THE NEED TO CHANGE. My first goal in 2019 was to develop emotional intelligence.

I started to listen to some YouTube videos about emotional intelligence. They inspired and challenged me to change. One of the video I watched was a ted talk by Ramona Hacker. She explains the six steps to improve your emotional intelligence.

Ramona talked the importance to understand your emotions. She highlights that not many people know how to deal with their emotions or consider emotional intelligence as an important skill. She continues to highlight this by sharing her experience. (Kindly check it out)

Why is Emotional Intelligence an important skill?

Saying emotional intelligence is an important skill someone needs in their lives is understatement. It is a skill that helps someone to understand their emotions and help them to interact with other people and also understand them. We cannot live without emotions but we need to know how to use our knowledge to control the emotions. Many people regret on some decisions they made based on their emotions. They regret but the impact of their decisions is already felt. so it is irreversible. These regrets can be avoided by improving your emotional intelligence. The rule of thumb is, when you feel at a certain moment you are overwhelmed by emotions, that is when the real test of emotional intelligence comes in. During that time and moment, your mind tends to be overtaken by the emotions but it is only emotional intelligent people who can control their emotions and allow room for logic to make wise decisions.

Let us think. How many people have killed each other because they were angry at each other over just a simple thing? Recently in Kenya, a brother killed his sister because his sister claimed she is loved more than him by their parents. why kill someone just because of what they said? At that moment could he have paused and just ask his sister to apologize or rather something else other than costing his sister life? This was because the brother was not emotional intelligent. He allowed emotions to overtake his mind. How many employees have lost their jobs since they shouted at their bosses just because their bosses asked them why they were late to report to work. As an individual, how many relationships break ups have hit you hard or have been broken just because you allowed your emotions to take over you? How many have killed themselves because their lovers left them? Simply because they were unable to control their emotions using their intelligence.

Being emotional intelligent is a skill to master. It is not inborn since you need intelligence to reason and intelligence is from knowledge. You need to spare some seconds to reason(IT IS A MUST). Whenever you feel overwhelmed with emotions follows these steps and by making it a habit, you improve your emotional intelligence.

  1. Try to hold up your emotions a bit. If it is anger, hold up first. The rule is do not act when angry. Wait a bit.
  2. Breath in heavily………then breathe out. This helps to reduce the emotions’ tension.
  3. Relax and relax again.
  4. Reason through the situation. Try to use facts and your intelligence to make decisions. When your intelligence intersect with logic, that is where your decision is. For example; if someone wronged you and you are upset; logic and intelligence will intersect by requesting the person to apologise. That is decision you should make for example.
  5. Act based on the decision you chose above (Step 4).

Where am I now?

In February 2019 the company I left, called me via a skype call to discuss why I left the company. Since I had understood myself, I explained to them why I left and why I felt I was not emotional intelligent by then and alerted them I was making an effort to improve.

Up to now, I believe am not yet an emotional intelligent person but I have improved so much. During UCT June/July vac I was interning in a payments company called Electrum payments. During my internship, I made it deliberately to practice emotional intelligence. Whenever I felt overwhelmed, I could follow the above steps and it worked . I remember one day I was struggling at my desk to get some task done. I quickly realised that I was worried and panicking. I decided to talk to another senior developer to help me out and I was quickly assisted. What happened is that I quickly realised worryness was taking over me that is why I was starting to panic. But by reasoning through I recovered from being worried. This seems to be a light example but I hope it also demonstrates that emotional intelligence is not all about controlling anger, even light emotions needs to be controlled. You have attended a conference alone and it is lunch time. You start to feel lonely/scared since others are busy speaking to their friends and networking. It is important to realise that you are scared and you need to reason how to deal with being scared in that context. In this scenario it will be great to use your intelligence to know that no one will basically refuse to speak to you if you speak to them. So just start to speak to people by simple introducing yourself and what you do. Through that conversation will flow and you not feel lonely anymore. How many people have aborted since they could not control their emotions? (I only mean those who aborts because they did not control their emotions and I do not mean special cases).

Advise for those struggling to improve their emotions intelligence.

  1. First be aware of yourself. Admit you need to improve your emotional intelligence. Reflect which instances you made decisions that you regret. This will give you a reason why you need to work on your emotional intelligence.
  2. Develop positive attitude towards being an emotional intelligent. Make a deliberate effort to set a goal on improving emotional intelligence.
  3. Lastly, ACT. I mean, start to work on it. Watch youtube videos. Speak with others about it. speak with your friends. Try to reflect each month on cases you practised emotional intelligence and how you can improve.
  4. Finally you will be emotional intelligence.

In conclusion, someone said, being stupid is doing the same thing the same way, expecting different results. If you know you are not emotional intelligent and you do not want to work on it, then do not expect different results as you will be fooling yourself. Work on it.

As I close, if you are pursuing Computer Science and you are second or third year, Electrum Payments is looking for you. Check them out for December internships.

Author: Willie Macharia, A final year student pursuing BSC Computer Science and Computer Engineering at University of Cape Town.

Master in Computer Science at the University of Cape Town. Cyber Security Researcher. Quantum computing Enthusiast. Backend Developer-Java(Expert), Python, AWS

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