Handy tips to improve your emotional intelligence (EI)

Emotional intelligence at work
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We are all born with intelligence and arguments abound on whether the intelligence quotient (IQ) we are born with can develop and grow or is fixed from the outset. When it comes to our EQ though – emotional intelligence – it is entirely different.

For this is something that you can grow and develop and will prove to be your very best asset in life and work. It is really the only one thing that cannot be imitated or copied as its manifestation is in the history and quality of your relationships and communication skills.

How important is EQ?

UCLA research claims that just 7% of effectiveness comes from intellect (IQ), while 93% comes from emotional intelligence (EQ) and that 67% of abilities essential to top performance are interpersonal-based.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize your emotions, understand what they’re telling you, and realize how they affect the people around you. People who function at a high rate of emotional intelligence have the ability to adjust their behaviours and are more effective at recognizing and managing their own emotions as well as the emotions of others.

Ergo, emotional intelligence equals interpersonal effectiveness.

This then means that your responses are more likely to be less reactionary and have a more positive outcome. Although you can never control or be responsible for someone else’s emotions and behaviour, what you can do is decide how you will respond towards it.

Sometimes this can be as simple as taking time out to reflect and acknowledge that you feel angry or frustrated before firing off that email, as a simple example.

EQ embraces four main areas:

  1. Self-awareness – You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behaviour. You know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence.
  2. Self-management – You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviours, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
  3. Social awareness – You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
  4. Relationship management – You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.

Here are some ways to develop your EQ:

1. Self-awareness

One way to raise your emotional intelligence is to use present language to help focus more on the present moment. Put your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs on paper. By doing this, you’re able to put things into perspective.

Knowing how to express your emotions can often help you manage them in a proper and healthy way. Don’t be afraid to give yourself the gift of silence and meditation. Reconnect with your inner self and watch your perspective and your life transform.

2. Empathy

Empathy is extremely powerful and essential to raising your emotional intelligence. Increasing your ability to empathize can help you get closer to others, gain their support when you need it, and potentially defuse high-charged conflicts in your professional and personal life.

Empathy is recognized as the second-most important emotion to acquire, since by showing someone that you understand where they’re coming from, you’re able to gain their respect. Be aware and listen carefully to what they are telling you.

You know you are becoming more empathetic when you’re able to decipher and recognize the feelings of others.

3. Self-regulation

People who self-regulate think before they act, have the ability to say no, and shift their thoughts to prevent their emotions from controlling them.

They are self-aware enough to know their strengths, weaknesses, and are willing to look at themselves honestly.

Emotionally intelligent people aim for assertiveness, appropriately sharing their emotions, thoughts, and beliefs with the right people at the right time as a means to let others know where they stand.

4. Motivation

Emotionally intelligent people are generally characterized as motivated. People are often guided by their emotional knowledge, which can result in a flawed impulsive decision. People who are emotionally intelligent, however, are excellent decision-makers, and they know when to trust their intuition.

This also means taking criticism well, and knowing when to use it to improve their performance.

Emotionally intelligent people know when to stick and when to switch their emotional attachments. They are motivated to look at a problem and find a resolution in a calm and rational way.

5. Social skills

Another way of raising your emotional intelligence is being able to easily talk and connect with others. Being socially responsible demonstrates that you really care about others and not just about your own personal gain.

Individuals who focus on the development of others rather than their own, practice emotional intelligence as well as humility.

Humility can be a wonderful quality to possess because it indicates to others that you’re able to take responsibility of your actions while still participating and being a team player. Having a high emotional intelligence gives you the social skills to manage the emotions of others too.

6. Happiness

Raising your emotional intelligence involves knowing when to be happy, sad, excited, anxious, or even vigilant.

Unfortunately, very few people know how to manage their happiness as it is so frequently associated with material goods or gifts they receive from others. Generally, people who possess high emotional intelligence are happy people. The really happy ones are those who always give.

Happiness, for clarification, feels like a warm, steady glow harboured inside your body.

Because happy people accomplish more tasks than those who are sad or depressed, it is important to note that the emotionally intelligent have the ability to control their mood to serve their purpose, motivating them to find more solutions to problems. 

The Advantage is a two-day experiential learning workshop designed to raise awareness of adaptability, critical thinking, empathy, integrity, optimism, being proactive and resilience. EQ and self-awareness underpin this. The Advantage is being delivered to a range of clients – from the NHS to youth offending teams and senior managers. We are currently offering Training Zone readers a 20% discount on the cost of our Licensed Trainer course January 25th – 27th in Guildford which runs only once a year. Find out more.

About Emma Sue Prince

Emma Sue is author of The Advantage – the 7 key soft skills you need to get ahead published by Pearson Business. She has designed an experiential learning workshop based on these skills: adaptability, empathy, integrity, optimism, being proactive, critical thinking and resilience and is currently licensing trainers to deliver these. 

http://www.unimenta.com/The-Advantage-training/Licensed-trainer

Emma Sue provides consultancy in emerging economies and travels regularly to India, Bangladesh and Tanzania advising on a range of large funded projects. She runs a free membership site – Unimenta – for practitioners working in soft skills. When not working Emma Sue runs a local gospel choir in her home town of Godalming, Surrey and is an avid baker.

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