Why do people seek to improve?
It’s because we know there’s something improved out there. A bigger house, a faster car, a better way of life. Therefore, we take courses to improve our skills or read books to increase our knowledge.
Yes, we have an insatiable desire to improve. And with good reason. Improving certain parts of our lives may well increase our happiness.
With this in mind, we’d like to apply our self-improvement lenses to a significant part of our lives: our emotional intelligence. What exactly is this, and why is it significant? Let’s have a look.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
People describe it as a necessary component for achieving life's success.
Emotional intelligence is the capacity to understand and manage the emotions of yourself and others. You’d be able to regulate how emotions influence you if you had emotional intelligence. You can also influence how others get affected by your emotions and vice versa.
Developing this ability can assist in better managing your relationships. For this and other reasons, we hear that people with this ability find success in life.
Do you see why this is the case? Consider who you’d prefer on your team: one who can’t work well with others or someone who can motivate and collaborate well with teammates? Also, consider those whom you are eager to assist when they are in need. These are usually the folk who make you and others happy.
As shown, those with increased emotional intelligence are better equipped to be successful.
How to Raise Your Emotional Intelligence
Use these strategies to increase your emotional intelligence:
1. Develop an awareness of your own and others’ emotions.
Are you able to identify the emotions you’re experiencing right now? What exactly are they? What circumstances set them off? Are you able to read other people’s emotions?
- The answers you find will reveal how sensitive you are to your own and others’ emotional states. It’s time to pay attention if you notice you’re not attuned enough.
- Examine your emotional condition from time to time to see how you’re feeling. You can also recognize other people’s feelings by paying attention to what they try to say.
- Be attentive to their body language also, as they won’t always express themselves with words. Consider what might cause your and others’ sentiments as you recognize them.
Self-awareness with work
How often do you take the time to actually practice self and emotional awareness throughout the day? Asking yourself a simple question like, “How do I feel doing this task?” can help you to realize what you want to do more or less of in the coming year. Some things you may not enjoy at all. For those, can you delegate them to someone else or ask for assistance if it's a task that doesn't play to your strengths? Sometimes it isn't about enjoyment, but more about the mental energy needed to complete the task.
Practicing self-awareness will allow you to recognize what part of the day you have the most energy to therefore schedule the more challenging tasks during those times. You want to use your brain optimally so that those self-check-ins are golden moments that will help you achieve what you want more efficiently.
How do the position, people, and processes make you feel? Being able to access how these things individually and collectively make you feel will help you to navigate whether you may need to switch teams, departments, or the company altogether. Not applying self-awareness can have us making rash decisions fueled by an emotional response rather than reflection.
It may not be that you need to quit your job, it could be that you aren't being challenged enough or would be more satisfied working for a different leader. Consistent practice of self-awareness will encourage you to be more mindful and gather emotional and cognitive feedback to help guide your days and decision-making. Source: fastcompany.com
2. Develop empathy.
Quite simply, empathy is the ability to understand other people's emotions. Understanding that everyone has their own set of feelings, desires, triggers and fears. To be empathetic you're allowing their experiences to resonate with your own in order to respond in an emotionally appropriate way. It's a lifelong skill and the most important one for navigating relationships, and whilst it may not come naturally, there are a few ways it can be nurtured.
Being able to recognize emotions is important. In order to fully understand what someone is feeling, though, you must be able to put yourself in their shoes.
- Practice putting yourself in the positions of others. Think about how you would act if you were in their shoes. Studies show that reading books with diverse characters helps us improve this trait.
- Such exercises can help you develop empathy, which will increase your emotional intelligence.
- Listen. Before you're able to empathise with someone you first need to understand what it is they're saying, which means listening is at the very epicentre of empathy. It involves letting them talk without interruption, preconceptions, scepticism and putting your own issues on pause to allow yourself to absorb their situation and consider how they are feeling before you react.
- Try to be approachable. Whether you're the leader of a team or working on a project with others, try to remain accessible and approachable.
- Perspective. We're all familiar with the phrase “put yourself in their shoes”, and this is exactly that. The simplest way of gaining a little perspective the next time an issue or situation arises is to switch places with the other person and really think about what's happening from their point of view. Sometimes there's no right or wrong but at least you'll understand enough to come to a resolve or offer some useful advice.
- Open yourself up. One of the quickest ways to offer a sincere exchange or sign of empathy is to listen to someone's experiences and connect to it with a similar experience of your own. Don't be afraid to open yourself up, it might just be the start of a great and lasting friendship.
- Immerse yourself in a new culture. The old saying ‘travel broadens the mind' is still true, even in this ever shrinking world. Sometimes the best way to open your mind is to jump on a plane and go somewhere completely different.
- Cultivate a curiosity about strangers. Highly empathetic people have an insatiable curiosity about strangers. When we talk to people outside of our usual social circle we learn about and begin to understand opinions, views and lives that are different to our own. So next time you're sat on a bus you know just what to do…
- Acknowledge what people are saying. Another useful tip is, whilst listening to what a person has to say, use acknowledgement words such as ‘I understand' and ‘I see' to show a person you're listening (but of course only say these things if you are actually listening!). Source: rochemartin.com
3. Reflect on the emotions of yourself and others for a better understanding.
Think about the effect of emotion on your choices and how you act. Try to understand what emotions could cause people to react the way they do.
- What is affecting the mood of this person? What makes your feelings different from theirs?
- It is easier to understand how emotions cause people to think and act when you reflect on such problems.
4. Seek feedback.
Find out how your family, friends, and co-workers rate your emotional intelligence. For instance, ask about how you handle disagreements and challenges. Ask about how well you adjust to situations and how empathetic you are.
- It won’t always be what you’d like to hear, but it is almost always what you need to.
Strong communication skills are essential for emotional intelligence. Knowing what to say or write and when to deliver information is crucial for building strong relationships. For example, as a manager in a work environment, communicating expectations and goals is necessary to keep everyone on the same page. Source: indeed.com
What to avoid
Those with a high EQ very rarely display the following traits, something for you to be mindful of.
- Drama. Emotionally intelligent people listen, offer sound advice and extend empathy to those who need it but they don't permit others' lives and emotions to effect or rule their own.
- Complaining. Complaining implies two things – one, that we are victims, and two, that there are no solutions to our problems. Rarely does an emotionally intelligent person feel victimized, and even more infrequently do they feel that a solution is beyond their grasp. So instead of looking for someone or something to blame, they think constructively and dissolve the solution in private.
- Negativity. Emotionally intelligent people have the ability to curb cynical thoughts. They acknowledge that negative thoughts are just that – thoughts – and rely on facts to come to conclusions as well as being able to silence or zone out any negativity.
- Dwelling on the past. Those with high emotional intelligence choose to learn from the mistakes and choices they have made and instead of dwelling on the past are mindful to live in the now.
- Selfishness. Whilst a degree of selfishness is required to get ahead in life, too much can fracture relationships and cause disharmony. Try to avoid being overly selfish and consider others needs.
- Giving in to peer pressure. Just because everyone else does something, they don't feel compelled to follow suit if they don't want to. They think independently, and never conform just to please other people.
- Being overly critical. Nothing destroys a person's morale faster than being overly critical. Remember that people are only human and have the same motivations (and limitations) as you. Take the time to understand another person then communicate the change you want to see.
By understanding and successfully applying emotional intelligence, you too can reach your full potential and achieve your goals. Source: rochemartin.com
Studies show that people with high emotional intelligence enjoy superior mental health, professional performance, and leadership qualities. It’s a key to having great relationships and achieving your objectives.
Work to increase your emotional intelligence. When you do, you can realize your full potential and be successful in life.