Emotional intelligence is one of the most popular concepts in modern psychology, and nobody doubts the importance of managing emotions in our well-being. Being emotionally intelligent helps us to make better decisions , to perform better at work, to have better quality interpersonal relationships, among other advantages.

Interview with Mª Teresa Mata Massó, psychologist and psychotherapist

Today we spoke with Mª Teresa Mata Massó, general health psychologist and teacher of the Online Emotional Intelligence Training Course, to help us understand the importance of this concept and what its benefits are for people’s mental health and well-being.

In recent years there has been much talk about emotional intelligence. How would you define this concept?
Each person has a unique and non-transferable system of thoughts and emotions. Others may empathize with it, but each individual is an expert in his or her own content. Based on this preamble, we can say that emotional intelligence is that part of intelligence that pays special attention to the functionality of that system and seeks the necessary tools to ensure its sustainability.

Each one of us has “glasses” from which we build the world from four essential factors: the first is the vital experience, that is, all those experiences that we have throughout life and that condition this system of thoughts and emotions. The second is emotional heritage; each person is part of a family, a city, a culture, etc.

There is a whole series of social and educational elements that have been transferred to us and that interfere with how we see reality. The third factor is those traits that define personality; they also play a role in the “focus” of our glasses. And the fourth is the vital moment in which we find ourselves, the “here and now”; with 50 years we do not see life the same way as with 30.

The work of emotional intelligence puts this system of thoughts and emotions to the test in order to demonstrate its degree of functionality by considering the person as an expert in his or her own life history.

Why is it important to be an emotionally intelligent person? What effect does emotional intelligence have on our lives?

For one simple reason: to operate in a sustainable way. That is, with an optimal level of well-being and an acceptable degree of suffering in order to have the feeling of living instead of surviving.

Developing emotional intelligence means questioning certain “comfort zones” from which we feel safe (but not comfortable) and discovering what exists outside. Getting out of the comfort zone means contemplating new points of view, putting into practice new ways of doing things, creating new thoughts, feeling new ways of being and being, increasing the capacity to create and restructure, etc.

Sometimes we remain immobile in certain comfort zones out of fear of the unknown, insecurity or disbelief of our potential. Staying locked in has a price. This is what emotional intelligence tries to show.

So, continuing with the question that opened this interview, being emotionally intelligent means being aware of the degree of well-being we gain and lose, both inside and outside the comfort zone, in order to set a goal that will lead us towards change (at the right time). It is not always smart to leave a comfort zone, it is important to find the way and the moment according to our needs and those of the environment.

Are there any emotions that are harmful to health? Which are the ones that are most harmful to us?

Emotions are not harmful, what can be harmful is the relationship we establish with them. Every emotion has a function. If we ignore (here we would speak of a relationship of denial) the emotion, sooner or later it will seek a way to claim its right to exist and be understood.

Why is it so important to accept emotions? What are the consequences of repressing them?

Repressing an emotion means not allowing this emotion to exist. This is different from slowing down, containing, relaxing, or pulling away at times (i.e., controlling the emotion). From emotional intelligence we seek the efficient expression of the emotion. This implies that, as far as possible, it is functional, helps us “win more than lose” and preserves our self-esteem. In other words, that the management we carry out is consistent with our needs and respectful. Of course, this does not prevent emotion from generating discomfort.

Do you think that the importance of emotional intelligence is taken into account in schools? Is enough being done in the educational field?

In my opinion, at present, better psycho-educational work is being done from school (teaching what emotional intelligence is) but not enough feedback is being created live and in person through practical examples.

Generating insight (awareness) at key moments in the classroom (for example, when one classmate has not accepted constructive criticism, when another has set an unassertive limit, when emotional expression is installed in the complaint and does not offer a speech that speaks from the need, when the visible emotion is anger and, behind it, hides a deep sadness, etc.) is the best way to teach. Helping students through questions that open the option to the detection of destructive thoughts, propose more complete discourses and promote unintended solutions is a real way of putting emotional intelligence into practice.

How is emotional intelligence integrated into psychological therapy?

Personally, first of all, I look at how the patient builds his own “glasses”, that is, his vision of the world, and I function as a mirror to increase his capacity for introspection and self-knowledge. Then, we jointly evaluate the level of functionality of these glasses and look for hypotheses that reinforce the sense of their construction through the knowledge of life experiences, personality traits, inherited meanings and all those events that define their current moment.

In psychotherapy as in training courses, even resorting to experience and discovering useful information in the history of life, we always return to the here and now, we never remain anchored in the past, we look at how it influences the present. Likewise, in any exercise, we look for usefulness in the reality of the moment with questions such as “and this, in my life, what meaning does it have” or “where can I start to act? Concreteness is one of the principles of emotional intelligence.

After a psychotherapy session, the insight increases. New lines of thought are awakened and hitherto unknown options are born, untried options are mobilized.

Besides the psychotherapeutic and educational fields, in what other fields is emotional intelligence applied?

Emotional intelligence is a pillar in the world of business and organizations. Those teams that train in emotional intelligence, prepare their workers to communicate from the sum, streamline procedures that have been hampered or expired, create new scenarios that, without the joint work, would still be unknown, and so on.

Emotional intelligence is the fundamental tool for harnessing human potential. Fortunately, every day more companies are betting on this type of training through experiential dynamics and practical online training. From our center we design programs to increase efficient and sustainable work within a team.

You teach the “Online Emotional Intelligence Training Course”. Who is this training aimed at and what benefits does it bring to the people who take it?

The online course on emotional intelligence is the result of 8 years of experiential group training. Its syllabus and methodology have been designed with the aim of providing the user with an experience similar to classroom training with the advantages of distance learning. Elements such as tutor follow-up, practical and intelligent tasks, live interaction through webinars as well as the class concept, are some of the elements that characterize this course.

The target audience is professionals from the world of health, education, social sciences and organizations. Training for all those people interested in knowing in a practical way the procedures and strategies of emotional intelligence training.

Among the main topics that we work on in the online course, we highlight how to obtain useful information from an emotion, what strategic questions we can use to manage conflicts, what reasons lie behind the difficulty of saying no, what we can propose to carry out an unintended solution, what tools we have to set limits, what is a positive-realistic objective or what is emotional plasticity and how we can integrate sustainable mechanisms into our work and personal life.

With this course the user can feel that he is doing practical and useful work in his daily life without moving from home.