How Emotional Intelligence Helps You Enjoy Good Fiction


Did you know that emotional intelligence is directly linked to personal and professional success? Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the way we perceive and cope with the emotions of others and ourselves. In other words, it improves a person’s social effectiveness. Individuals with high EI are more self-aware than others and report a higher level of contentment and happiness with their lives even when coping with stressful situations.

Emotional Intelligence and Best Selling Fiction

What does EI have to do with writing great fiction? Fiction authors need emotional intelligence to create and develop a plot and characters that draw the reader into their fictional world. Emotional intelligence allows those who love to read fiction the ability to immerse themselves into the lives of the characters and their circumstances.

My crime novels feature characters with high EI and those with very little at all. In real life, we come across all types of people…those with a high level of empathy, self-determination, and personal integrity as well as those with a deep lack of self-awareness, motivation, and social morality. Then, of course, there are all those individuals who fall in between those extremes.

The characters in a page-turning crime novel mirror the diversity we find in our everyday lives. The only way to develop believable, well-rounded fiction characters is by employing some level of emotional intelligence during the creative process.

Grab a copy of the Lou Mason thriller, Cold Truth, and see for yourself.

Likewise, avid fiction readers have a different mindset than the non-reader. They enjoy travels to fascinating worlds, some based in reality, others completely fabricated in the author’s mind. During these excursions, fiction readers must connect and identify with the characters in order to have a fulfilling experience. It takes at least some level of EI for a reader to empathize and understand the plight of fictional characters in this way.

I came across a story in the Huffington Post that lists 14 signs of high emotional intelligence. You’ll see that you probably have some, or many, of these covered, but may spot a few where you tend to struggle. The great thing about EI is that, unlike with IQ, you can improve in these challenging areas. All it takes is a little focus and determination.

How many of these 14 signs describe you?

  1. You love meeting new people. You’re curious about others and tend to ask a lot of questions when you first meet someone. You have a real interest in learning about others. This curiosity is important in the enjoyment of fiction as well. Otherwise you wouldn’t care much about the characters.
  2. You have great leadership skills. According to psychologist and EI expert, Daniel Goleman, “…exceptional leaders…possess a high degree of emotional intelligence.”
  3. You’re self-aware. You know where you excel and what areas you need to work on. Simply put, you’re honest with yourself and you know how to effectively operate within that zone. Self-awareness fosters the strong self-confidence that is an essential element for emotional intelligence.
  4. You don’t distract easily. You have the ability to disregard distractions (external noise, intruding thoughts) and focus on the present task. Without this skill, you aren’t present to yourself and others, making self-awareness and strong relationship development difficult.
  5. When upset, you know why. You know your emotional triggers and what causes various emotions you may have during the course of a day. If you aren’t in touch with your emotions, you can’t develop the self-awareness necessary for high EI.
  6. You get along with almost everyone. While you may enjoy the company of certain people over others, you can get along with most people. You’re not abrasive or overly judgmental.
  7. Strong moral integrity. You care deeply about living an ethical, moral life and actively work to build up this side of yourself.
  8. You’re compassionate. You take the time to notice the trials of others with empathy and compassion and don’t mind stopping to help.
  9. You can accurately read others’ emotions. You can read facial expressions and other subtle body language and tone of voice to sense the feelings of others.
  10. You’re resilient. When you have a setback or failure, you bounce back quickly. This means you can experience negative emotions without allowing them to control your thoughts and behaviors. It’s akin to seeing a cloud’s silver lining.
  11. You can size people up quickly. Your intuition quickly gives you a sense of what a person is about and you’re rarely wrong.
  12. Strong sense of intuition. You listen to the quiet whisper or certain feeling in your gut and you trust it.
  13. You’re self-motivated. You focus on pursuing your goals and don’t need external motivators to achieve those goals.
  14. You can say “no” when necessary. You’re skilled in self-discipline and can control your impulses and avoid developing bad habits.

Read the entire Huffington Post story, How Emotionally Intelligent Are You?

For a REAL exercise in using your emotional intelligence to enjoy a book, download my latest Alex Stone thriller, Chasing the Dead!


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