Emotional intelligence; whether in the workplace or within your personal relationships, everyone would benefit from increasing their level. Why? It is the ability to navigate and harness your emotions to live a happier, more balanced life. So, let’s dive in so you can learn how to improve your emotional intelligence and reap all the benefits, both professionally and of course, emotionally.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
When you think of intelligence, you probably don’t think of emotions, right? Well, emotional intelligence is a type of intelligence that involves the ability to understand and manage your emotions to empathize with others, build interpersonal relationships, and communicate effectively. It was introduced by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer in the 1990s and later tweaked by Daniel Goleman for its popular benefits in the workplace and leadership.
Why Is Emotional Intelligence Important?
In our everyday lives, emotional intelligence proves to be very effective. For example, those with high emotional intelligence are social chameleons. They can adapt their words, actions, and behavior to the individuals and situations around them, empathize, actively listen, and possess high self-awareness of how the outside world perceives them. These skills lead to higher decision-making skills, greater relationships professionally and personally, and increased happiness. Therefore, when we learn how to manage our emotions and adapt to others authentically, we receive greater life quality and boost the same in others.
14 Signs of Emotional Intelligence
Other than regulating their emotions, those with high levels of emotional intelligence exhibit several traits…
- Think about the consequences of their actions
- Pause before reacting
- Benefit from criticism
- Apologize for their mistakes
- Demonstrate empathy
- Embrace change
- Have a strong sense of self-awareness
- Practice gratitude
- Praise others
- Provide feedback
- Eager to learn
- Display authenticity
- Help others
- Forgive and move forward
How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence
1. Identify your emotions
Unfortunately, many don’t analytically think about the connection between their emotions and actions. Yet when you dig deep into why you, for example, scream when you’re angry or binge eat cookies when anxious, you better understand the psychological process of why an emotion leads to a specific action. Additionally, identifying your emotions when they arise will help you understand what you’re feeling. For example, I feel (insert emotion) because (insert reason). Indeed, identifying and processing your emotions as they arise will help you better regulate them and tune into the emotions of others.
While you are practicing identifying your emotions, begin observing your subsequent actions. Those with high rates of emotional intelligence are fully aware of their actions and behaviors. As a result, they can control certain emotions to prevent actions that might affect their work or personal life. Yet learning to regulate and control emotions does not mean repression. Instead, you are learning to not react to every intense emotion. To practice this, spend time analyzing your emotions and how you react in social situations. Then slowly evaluate what you want to remove or lessen and begin doing so in your everyday interactions.
3. Respond vs. react
We all have that moment where we can choose to respond or react. Maybe it’s right before we feel that pit in our stomach or our chest tightens, and we feel the cortisol pumping through our veins. There is always a moment. And similar to the previous tip, observe your actions and spend time developing your self-awareness and body awareness to determine when you feel angry, stressed, or upset. Knowing how your body responds to these emotions will give you important information to respond instead of react. It will give you the reminder to take a deep breath, reevaluate what you want to say, and pivot to lead with more compassion.
4. Take responsibility
When you make a mistake or hurt another person, even unintentionally, do you take accountability and apologize? One of the best ways to improve your emotional intelligence is to recognize that you’re not perfect, own up to your wrongdoings and forgive yourself for past mistakes. Accordingly, when you start accepting responsibility for how you feel and behave, it will dramatically and positively improve your relationships and self-awareness and free up any negative energy.
5. Be empathetic
It may seem easy to feel empathy for others, but when we’re caught up in the daily stresses of life, it’s actually easier to abandon. Yet being purposefully intentional and considering the thoughts and feelings of those around you is the best way to apply your newfound emotional intelligence. For example, when speaking with another person, even if they disagree, limit your need to defend and instead try to understand where they’re coming from. How did their experiences shape this belief? Become curious, investigate with compassion, and practice empathy towards others even when you’re not engaging with others or making decisions.
6. Listen actively
Often we think we’re listening to someone, but we’re not. And there is a stark difference between active and passive listening. For example, active listening involves remaining in the present moment without thinking about what you want to say next or waiting for your turn to speak. It relays that you’re interested in the other person and value their experiences. Whereas passively listening is one-way communication. You don’t provide follow-up questions or feedback. So, the next time you’re in a conversation, try to focus on the present moment and follow every word. It will do wonders for your relationships.
7. Expose yourself to different information
Given the current political climate, it’s beneficial to extend your information source beyond your bubble. The more diverse opinions and interactions you experience, the more comfortable you will be engaging with and expanding your mindset to accept that everyone is different. Everyone has different worldviews, beliefs, and values shaped by their childhood, relationships, and experiences. Therefore, soak up information well beyond your comfort zone, learn to engage with different groups, and grow your emotional intelligence in the process.
8. Improve your self-reflection
When you’re upset or angry, it’s safe to assume you might ask, “Why do I feel this way”? Unfortunately, while this question seems innocent, it can actually cause more internal pain, self-criticism and overthinking (Check out how to limit worrying). Instead, ask yourself, “What situations caused me to feel this way?” or “How can I feel better?” These two simple questions that use “What” and “How” change the nature of your internal conversation and empower you to identify your triggers, increase your emotional intelligence and self-reflection, and provide the foundation to develop solutions that will serve your relationship with yourself, others, and your future.
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