Emotional Intelligence

EQ – A Journey to Personal and Professional Success

The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Having Emotional Intelligence requires us to understand how emotions shape your thoughts and actions so you can have greater control over your behavior and manage yourself more effectively. Becoming more emotionally conscious allows us to grow and gain a deeper understanding of who we are, enabling us to communicate better with others and build stronger relationships.

Emotional Intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success.

It’s easier to give people what they want if we can perceive what it is. Emotional Intelligence helps us to be stronger internal motivators, which can reduce procrastination, increase self-confidence, and improve our ability to focus on a goal.

Your Emotional Intelligence can be improved

To improve your Emotional Intelligence, start with these eight tips; they provide a way to discovering the foundations of your Emotional Intelligence.

  • Practice observing how you feel
    • We lead hectic, busy lifestyles, and it’s all too easy for us to lose touch with our emotions. To reconnect, try setting a timer for various points during the day. When the timer goes off, take a few deep breaths and notice how you’re feeling emotionally. Please pay attention to where that emotion is showing up as a physical feeling in your body; note how these emotions make you feel, physically. The more you practice, the more it will become second nature.
  • Pay attention to how you behave
    • While you’re practicing your emotional awareness, take the time to notice your behavior too. Observe how you act when you’re experiencing certain emotions, and how that affects your day-to-day life. Managing our feelings becomes more manageable once we become more conscious of how we react to them.
  • Question your own opinions
    • In this hyper-connected world, it is easy to fall into an “opinion bubble.” This “opinion bubble” is a state of existence where people with similar viewpoints constantly re-enforce your own opinions. Take time to read the other side of the story and have your views challenged (even if you still feel they are right). This practice of looking at the other side of the story will help you understand other people and be more receptive to new ideas.
  • Take responsibility for your feelings
    • Your emotions and behavior come from you, they don’t come from anyone else and once you start accepting responsibility for how you feel and how you behave it will have a positive impact on all areas of your life.
  • Take time to celebrate the positive
    • A vital part of Emotional Intelligence is celebrating and reflecting on the positive moments in life. People who experience positive emotions are generally more resilient and more likely to have fulfilling relationships, which will help them move past adversity.
  • Don’t ignore the negative
    • Reflecting on negative feelings is just as important as reflecting on the positive. Understanding why you feel negative is key to becoming a fully-rounded individual who is more able to deal with negative issues in the future.
  • Don’t forget to breathe
    • Life throws various situations our way, with most of us experiencing some stress regularly. To manage your emotions when this happens and to avoid outbursts, don’t forget to breathe. Call a time or anything to keep your cool and give yourself a chance to get a hold on what’s happening and how you should respond.
  • Make these practices a lifetime process
    • Understand and remember that Emotional Intelligence is something you develop and requires continual improvement; it’s very much a lifetime practice.

To improve you Emotional Intelligence will require you to:

  • Leave your comfort zone
    • The most significant barrier to achieving your full potential is not challenging yourself frequently enough. Great things can happen to you if you’re willing to leave your comfort zone, so do so as often as you can.
  • Ask for help
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and vice versa. If others need help, don’t hold back in giving it to them. Seeing other people succeed will only help to motivate yourself.
  • Stand and stretch
    • For an instant short-term boost to your motivation, take a stand and stretch out as far as you can for 10 seconds. When you return to your desk, you’ll be in the correct frame of mind and ready to work.

Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist, developed a framework of five elements that define emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Below is a breakdown on how to learn and live these skills:

  • Self-awareness – A key component of Emotional Intelligence, self-awareness the ability to recognize and understand your character, moods, and emotions and their effect on others. It includes a realistic self-assessment of what you’re capable of – your strengths and weaknesses – and knowing how others perceive you. It can help highlight areas for self-improvement, make you better at adapting and can limit wrongful decisions.
    1. Learn to look at yourself objectively – Knowing yourself is challenging, and it’s almost impossible to look at yourself objectively, so input from those who know you is vital. Ask them where your strengths and weaknesses lie, write down what they say, and compare it. Look out for any patterns and remember not to argue with them – it doesn’t mean they’re right – they’re just trying to help you gauge your perception from another’s point of view.
    2. Keep a journal – A great way to get an accurate gauge of yourself is to keep a journal. Start by writing down what happened to you at the end of every day, how it made you feel and how you dealt with it. Documenting details like these will make you more aware of what you’re doing and might highlight the origin of your problems. Periodically, look back over your comments and take note of any trends.
    3. Understand what motivates you – Everyone has a core motivation when they begin a project. The difficulty is keeping this driving force in mind when adversity appears. All too often, people start a project but fail to complete it because they lose their motivation to do so. Take time to understand what motivates you and use it to push you across the finish line.
    1. Take it easy – Sometimes emotional outbreaks occur because we don’t take the time out to slow down and process how we’re feeling. Give yourself a break and make a conscious effort to meditate, do yoga or read – a little escapism works wonders. So, then the next time you have an emotional reaction to something, try to pause before you react.
    2. Acknowledge your emotional triggers – Self-aware individuals can recognize their emotions as they occur. It’s essential to be flexible with your feelings and adapt them to your situation. Don’t deny your emotions stage time but don’t be rigid with them either, take the time to process your emotions before communicating them.
    3. Predict how you will feel – Think about a situation you’re going into and predict how you will feel. Practice naming and accepting the feelings – naming the feeling puts you in control. Try to choose an appropriate reaction to the feeling rather than just reacting to it.
    4. Trust your intuition – If you are still unsure about which path to take, trust your intuition. After all, your subconscious has been learning which path to take throughout your entire life.
  • Self-management – Once you’ve gotten to grips with self-awareness and how your emotions work, you can get a handle on self-management, which means taking responsibility for your behavior and well-being as well as controlling emotional outbursts.
    1. Snap out of it – One fundamental way to keep your emotions in check is to change your sensory input – motion dictates emotion as the old saying goes. So, jolt your physical body out of routine by attending an exercise class or try channeling a busy mind with a puzzle or a book – anything to break your existing habit.
    2. Eat well – Eating well sounds like an easy one, but regulating what you eat and drink can have a massive effect on your emotional state, so try your best to maintain a balanced diet.
    3. Don’t get mad – Funnel your emotional energy into something productive. It’s okay to keep overwhelming emotions inside, especially if it’s not an appropriate time to let them out. However, when you do, rather than vent it on something futile, turn it into motivation instead. Don’t get mad; get better.
    4. Be interested – A critical factor in managing yourself and your emotions is consciously taking the time to be interested in the subject matter, whether it be business or personal.
    5. Don’t expect people to trust you – Establishing trust with a person can be difficult, and once it’s lost, it’s tough to regain. Try to be mindful that people are only human and will make mistakes. By offering your trust, you are inviting people to provide their trust in return.
    6. It’s your choice – You can choose how you react to a situation – you can either overreact or remain calm. However, it’s your choice.
  • Stay Motivated – A personal skills aspect of Emotional Intelligence, self-motivation refers to our inner drive to achieve and improve our commitment to our goals, our readiness to act on opportunities, and our overall optimism.
    1. Personal goals – Personal goals can provide long-term direction and short-term motivation. So, grab a pen and paper and think about where you want to be and set some targets for yourself. Base them on your strengths and make them relevant to you and ultimately, make them exciting and achievable. This task alone is enough to get you instantly motivated!
    2. Be realistic – When you’ve set a new goal, be sure to give yourself practical and clear aims to achieving that goal and understand that change is an inevitable part of life. Achievement boosts confidence, and as self-confidence rises, so does the ability to accomplish more, see how it works?
    3. Positive thinking – It’s essential to maintain a positive and optimistic mindset. See problems and setbacks as learning opportunities instead of failings and try to avoid negative people and opt to surround yourself with positive, well-motivated people – they’ll have a significant effect on you.
    4. Lifelong learning – Both knowledge and information are vital for feeding your mind and keeping you curious and motivated. Also, with information so easily accessible, you have the opportunity to fuel your values and passions at the click of a button!
  • Have empathy – Empathy is the ability to understand other people’s emotions; an awareness 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 to respond in an emotionally appropriate way. It’s a lifelong skill and the most important one for navigating relationships, and while it may not come naturally, there are a ways empathy can be nurtured.
    1. Listen – Before you’re able to empathize with someone you first need to understand what it is, they’re saying, which means listening is at the very epicenter of empathy. It involves letting them talk without interruption, preconceptions, skepticism, and putting your issues on pause to allow yourself to absorb their situation and consider how they feel before you react.
    2. Be approachable – Whether you’re the leader of a team or working on a project with others, try to remain accessible and approachable.
    3. Perspective – We’re all familiar with the phrase “put yourself in their shoes,” and this is precisely 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 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 resolution or offer some useful advice.
    4. Open yourself up – One of the quickest ways to offer a real 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 and be vulnerable; it might just be the start of a significant and lasting friendship.
  • Building your social skills – In emotional intelligence terms, social skills refer to the skills needed to handle and influence other people’s emotions effectively. It covers a wide range of abilities, from communication and conflict management to dealing with change, meeting new people and building relationships and plays a part in almost every part of our lives, from work life to our romantic life. It’s complicated and requires utilizing practically every point we have already mentioned, but here are a few pointers for you.
    1. Get started – An excellent way to get started on improving your social skills is to isolate one skill you know you’d like to develop; this narrows it down and gives you focus. Internationally known psychologist, Daniel Goleman, suggests highlighting someone you know to be good at that particular skill, observing how they act and how they control their emotions and then implementing and applying that knowledge to yourself.
    2. Wear somebody else’s shoes – Not literally, of course! Everyone has heard the phrase “walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes,” but how many people practice this advice? Give it a try; you never know.
    3. Practice makes perfect – The idea of practicing your social skills might sound strange, but like everything in life, practice makes perfect.
    4. Be aware of the risks of electronic communications – Focus on engaging face-to-face with people will open up so many opportunities for you to gain and develop your social skills. Emails and texts can be too easily misinterpreted, with face-to-face conversations, tone, expression, and body language can be used to help clarify your emotions in a stressful situation. So next time, instead of instant messaging or emailing your response, meet up. Emotional Intelligence doesn’t expand within the confines of email, text, or social media.
    5. Get networking – An excellent way to practice your social acumen is to attend local networking events. The great thing about these events is that everyone attending has a shared reason for being there.
    6. It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it – We’re talking about the importance of nonverbal communication and how that can affect a person’s opinion of you. Body language, tone of voice, and eye contact is key to letting others know how you feel emotionally. So, once you’ve got your emotions intact, think about how you’re physically coming across.
    7. The unknown – The ultimate method for building your social skills is to get out there and be sociable. It sounds simple, but you can’t strengthen your social skills without being social! Join a group or network outside of your usual circle; it’s the perfect way to put all of our tips into play.

The EQ journey continues!

  • Immersing yourself in this new culture – This new culture needs to define you in the eyes of others. But it will require you to continue to nurture the culture and the new learned skills.
  • Cultivate 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 from our own. So next time you’re on a bus, you know just what to do.
  • Acknowledge what people are saying – Another useful tip is while listening to what a person has to say, use acknowledgment 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 listening!).
  • Know what to avoid – Those with a high EQ very rarely display the following traits; be mindful of the following.
    1. 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 affect or rule their own.
    2. Complaining – When you complain, it 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 think 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.
    3. Negativity – Emotionally intelligent people can 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Selfishness – While 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 other’s needs.
    6. 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 to please other people.
    7. Being overly critical – Nothing destroys a person’s morale faster than being too critical. Remember that people are only human and have the same motivations (and limitations) as you. Take the time to understand another person and 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.

Many thanks to RocheMartin for portions of this article.

About Rich Jones

Strategic consultant and Keynote Speaker, Rich brings a deep experience in the disciplines of Strategic Planning, Marketing, Business Development, Digital Transformation, Data Utilization, Leadership Development and Cultural Alignment. A husband, father, runner, cyclist, beer drinker with a passion for life.

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