By Barb Ward

We all know that family member, friend or co-worker who is a really good listener, they always seem to know what to say, and more importantly, what not to say in certain situations. They stay calm in crisis, are compassionate, and are genuinely happy for you when something goes right? You admire them and would love to be like that, what is it that gives them these amazing qualities? It’s called emotional literacy. 


The term emotional literacy was coined by Claude Steiner in 1979 and is defined as “the ability to understand your emotions, listen to others and empathize with their emotions, and express emotions productively. To be emotionally literate is to handle emotions in a way that improves your personal power and improves the quality of life around you. It improves relationships, creates loving possibilities between people, makes co-operative work possible, and facilitates the feeling of community.”


And, the good news? You can increase your emotional literacy by building your emotional intelligence (EI) skills. EI is the ability to understand your emotions and realize how they affect the people around you. It also involves your ability to empathize with others. When you understand the emotions of others, you can manage situations and relationships more effectively.


The stronger your skills in emotional intelligence, the greater your ability to choose the response you want to have instead of acting on impulse. Both personally and professionally, it helps you build stronger relationships, communicate more effectively, handle conflict appropriately, reduce stress, and prevail over work and life challenges. 


Additionally, research clearly tells us that there is a direct positive correlation between EI and leadership success. In fact, all other things being equal, a person’s emotional intelligence score dictates 80 percent of their success in their career. For an organization, emotionally intelligent leaders can result in:

  • Enhanced team performance
  • Better decision-making
  • Increased employee engagement
  • Decreased work-related stress
  • Lower staff turnover
  • Increased bottom line performance

So, think about it, what could a boost in emotional intelligence mean for you? In your personal life? For your career?