Many people have difficulty understanding exactly what is meant by emotional intelligence. To put it simply, this concept refers to a person’s ability to manage and deal with their own emotions, as well as their ability to handle the emotions of others.
In this article, we’re going to explain this a bit more as well as give you 25 ways to improve this essential skill. But first, let’s look at the four key characteristics of emotional intelligence.
4 Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence
- Self-Awareness: The first component of high emotional intelligence is knowing who you truly are. You have to be in touch with your emotional state and also understand what triggers negative emotions. It’s also important that you’re aware of your strengths, weaknesses, and motivations.
- Self-Management: Can you control your emotions and stay cool during a stressful situation? This is especially important in the workplace, where emotional outbursts can damage your reputation.
- Social Awareness: Can you pick up on the feelings of others? Being able to “read the room” and make sense of body language is a key component of emotional intelligence. This includes knowing what is meant by a person’s tone of voice, their gestures, nonverbal cues, and also facial expressions.
- Relationship Management: Managing team members is especially important for those in leadership roles. This includes the ability to practice effective communication with others and also have a positive influence over their emotions.
25 Ways to Build High EI
1. Improve Emotional Awareness
The first step to building this skill is becoming more aware of your emotions. As you go through the day, ask yourself how you’re feeling and label your emotions. Try to find the most accurate label possible. Also, become aware of how your emotions ultimately result in action. If you do something (either positive or negative), think about the emotional motivation behind that action.
2. Evaluate Yourself
It’s also a good idea to take an emotional intelligence test (you can find dozens of these tests online.) This will give you an idea of where you’re starting from and can help you determine a baseline for improving your emotional skills. These tests will also help you discover where your strengths lie and where you need to improve.
3. Welcome Conflict
Many people try to avoid conflict wherever possible, but this will not always result in interacting well with your colleagues at work. You have to realize that conflict management is an essential part of all healthy relationships. Not only that, avoiding conflict can often result in further resentment and negative feelings. From now on, you should encourage team members to embrace conflict and express their feelings in a healthy way. Doing this can strengthen bonds and help you deal with conflict in a more effective way.
4. Avoid Judgment
We often judge others harshly. This is especially true in difficult situations. Rather than doing this, realize that withholding criticism is often better. Instead, try to practice empathy and see things from the other person’s perspective. Realize that they may have an entirely different viewpoint than you and were probably acting out of good intentions.
5. Learn to Listen
Active listening is probably the greatest of all emotional intelligence skills. In addition to hearing the actual content of a conversation, you also have to understand what the person is really saying. What is the deeper meaning behind their communication, and what are they trying to express emotionally? The next time you’re having a conversation, remind yourself to pay attention to this and also to the underlying context and emotion behind the person’s words.
6. Be Humble
Think about the person you most dislike in your workplace. They’re more than likely someone who craves attention, constantly seeks praise, brags about their accomplishments, and has no concern for others’ feelings. Intelligent people with high levels of emotional intelligence do the exact opposite. They allow others to be the focus of attention and receive praise. Along with this, they exude internal confidence, which isn’t reliant on external accomplishments.
7. Take Responsibility
Avoiding responsibility is one of the biggest signs that you have poor social intelligence. What’s more, people who habitually do this may have mental health issues. This is why you have to learn to take responsibility. If you’ve done something wrong (such as upsetting a coworker or making a mistake), then you need to immediately admit your mistake and apologize. Doing this will not only help build strong emotional intelligence, but also improve your self-confidence and self-esteem.
8. Think of How Your Actions Affect Others
The truth is that none of us live in a vacuum. Everything we do spirals outwards and influences other people. This is why it’s so important to consider how your actions will affect these people. Before doing anything, take a minute and think of what your actions will mean for them. Will you create positive emotions or generate negative feedback? What will be the consequences of your actions? Are you prepared to deal with these, or could you do things a different way?
9. Practice Empathy
The concept of emotional intelligence was created by researcher John Mayer and popularized by psychologist Daniel Goleman. In fact, his 1995 book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” is still known as the go-to book for people who want to improve their communication skills. This publication of Daniel Goleman contains dozens of ideas and techniques for doing this.
According to him, one of the most important components of emotional intelligence is the practice of empathy. You must be attuned to the feelings of others. Along with this, you have to recognize what they need and want, and also how they see the world. Only by doing this can you build strong relationships with your coworkers.
10. Express Yourself
Many people are terrified of expressing their emotions. Either they’re afraid of public speaking or simply too shy. This is something you cannot afford to do in the workplace. If you keep quiet all the time, it will eventually affect your career. You may be passed over for promotion or be seen as someone who does not have new ideas. Just be mindful when speaking. An important part of sharing your own feelings is doing it in a positive way. You want to avoid sounding overly harsh, negative, or critical.
11. Be Prepared to Change
People often get stuck in a rut. This is simply human nature. Once we do something a certain way, we very rarely change. This goes for our opinions as well as our habits and actions. Unfortunately, business leaders cannot afford to do this. If you’re going to build a higher emotional intelligence, then you must be willing to change. Whether it’s in your work or personal life, you have to make an effort to strengthen your weaknesses and stop doing the things which hold you back.
12. Control Your Emotions
You have to learn to regulate emotions like disappointment and frustration. People who cannot do this often have emotional explosions and may display anger, shout at coworkers, or make impulsive decisions. If you’re feeling angry, remember that it’s always best to think before you act. Try to wait until you’re back in control. The best way to do this is by getting out of the office, doing deep breathing exercises, or counting backward from ten. Practices like meditation and yoga can also help.
13. Stop Trying to Control Everything
Top performers know that it’s impossible to control everything. Perfectionism creates too much stress in your life and can also lead to conflicts with coworkers. This is why you have to learn to let go and accept things. Simply focus on what you can control and hope that things take care of themselves.
14. Avoid Gossiping
If you want to be a better leader, then you cannot treat your workplace like a social club. You need to avoid idle chitchat with coworkers. Along with this, never trash talk people behind their back or spread gossip and rumors. In addition to that, you’ll want to avoid doing this online or over social media. Intelligent leaders understand that they need to keep things professional.
15. Learn Your Triggers
What are your emotional triggers? What events or situations cause an emotional reaction within yourself? For some people, it could be when a coworker disagrees with them. Or maybe you’re triggered when priorities and schedules aren’t set up properly or when you’re overwhelmed by work. It could be something as simple as a dirty break room. No matter what your triggers are, you need to identify them and then work on controlling your emotional responses.
16. Learn to Collaborate
There are two kinds of people: those who love to work with others and those who work best alone. If you’re the second type of person, then you’re going to have a hard time. The fact is that most office work is collaborative, meaning that you have to learn how to work within a group.
A big part of this is perfectionism. Many people are unwilling to trust others with their work. Another aspect is egotism and wanting to be seen as the “brains” behind a project. If you’re suffering from either of these problems, then you need to do something about it.
17. Learn to Motivate Yourself
Are you someone who relies on others to motivate them? The problem here is that you may become a burden to other people. No one wants to be responsible for motivating you. This is why it’s critical that you find ways to develop your own internal motivation and positive attitude. Also, if you’re the business owner, then relying on external motivation can hurt your team’s emotional intelligence.
18. See Criticism as a Learning Opportunity
One of the biggest issues which people have when it comes to their own emotional intelligence is being able to handle criticism. We often react badly to criticism, and this can cause friction in our personal relationships. You have to learn to see criticism as an opportunity to make better decisions and for personal growth. Ask yourself why you’re so upset, what you could have done better, and how you’ll avoid criticism in the future.
19. Make Yourself Approachable
Leadership success often hinges on your ability to be approached. If you’re too intimidating, then staff will not communicate. They have to know that they can come to you with problems and that you’ll react appropriately. The best way to practice this is through nonverbal communication. Smile and try to create a positive impact in the office. Also, if the staff does come to you with problems, refrain from criticizing them or assigning blame.
20. Avoid Arguments
Remaining calm is an important step when handling conflicts. Failure to do so can often lead to full-blown arguments. In some cases, the human resources team may even have to intervene. This is why you must learn to deal with difficult emotions in a constructive way. Instead of getting angry, focus on resolving the problem. Doing this will ultimately help to forge stronger relationships with other staff members.
21. Be Assertive
No one likes shy and retiring people. At the same time, we don’t like those who are overly aggressive. You have to find a middle ground between these two extremes. The best way to do this is simply by being assertive. You need to learn to communicate clearly and directly. Doing this helps to build respect and a strong emotional quotient. You’ll also have an easier time in the office.
22. Practice Your Social Skills
Don’t put the cart before the horse. What this means is that you need to have strong social skills before you can understand the emotions of people. You need to make a conscious effort to practice this set of skills.
Take time to talk to other employees about things outside of work. Ask about their weekend, hobbies, and family. Also, make time to socialize outside of work (if you’re trying to build emotionally intelligent teams, then make sure to schedule team-building activities.) Doing this is a great way to boost your EI skills and also helps to improve job satisfaction.
23. Keep a Diary
Keeping a diary is a great way to develop a high EQ. Research shows that getting your thoughts and feelings out on paper helps you deal with them in a more positive manner. Writing things down also makes you aware of where you made mistakes and what you can do to improve yourself.
24. Maintain Your Health
There is a direct correlation between our emotions and our health. For example, people who are sleep-deprived often experience emotions such as anger and frustration. Not getting proper nutrition can also affect your emotions, as can abusing alcohol. This is why the first step in overcoming a low EQ is maintaining your health. It’s critical that you get enough sleep, exercise, eat healthily, and avoid things that damage your body.
The idea of emotional intelligence may seem bewildering right now, but the good news is that anyone can improve this skill. All it takes is the desire to do better and the willingness to work on yourself.
According to the Harvard Business Review, career success isn’t necessarily about having a high IQ or intellectual ability. Managing your emotions is critical. In fact, the importance of emotional intelligence cannot be overstated. This is one of the best soft skills to learn and can have a tremendous benefit to your work (as well as your personal) life.
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