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 feelings of others. Having Emotional Intelligence requires us to understand how emotions shape our thoughts and actions to control our behavior and manage ourselves 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. In addition, emotional Intelligence helps us understand our internal motivators, which can reduce procrastination, increase self-confidence, and improve our ability to focus on a goal.

Your Emotional Intelligence can be improved by doing the following:

To improve your Emotional Intelligence, start with these eight tips; they provide a way to discover 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. Take a few deep breaths when the timer goes off and notice how you’re feeling emotionally. Then, please pay attention to where that emotion is showing up as a physical feeling in your body; note how these emotions make you are feeling. The more you practice, the more it will become second nature.
  • Pay attention to how you behave.
    • While practicing your emotional awareness, take the time to notice your behavior. Observe how you act when 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
    • It is easy to fall into an “opinion bubble in this hyper-connected world.” This “opinion bubble” is a state of existence where people with similar viewpoints constantly re-enforce their own opinions. Take time to read the other side of the story and have your views challenged (even if you still feel they are correct). 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. Once you accept responsibility for how you feel and behave, you will positively impact 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. Don’t forget to breathe to manage your emotions when this happens and avoid outbursts. Instead, ask for a time out to give yourself a chance to understand what’s happening and how you should respond.
  • Make these practices a lifetime process.
    • Remember that Emotional Intelligence is something you develop and requires continual improvement; it’s a lifetime practice.

Improving your Emotional Intelligence will require you to:

  • Leave your comfort zone
    • Not challenging yourself is the most significant barrier to achieving your full potential. However, 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 needed, 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
    • Take a stand and stretch out as far as you can for 10 seconds for an instant short-term boost to your motivation. Then, 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 of how to learn and live these skills:

  • Self-awareness – A key component of Emotional Intelligence, self-awareness is 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 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 allies who know you is vital. Ask these allies 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 gauge yourself accurately 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. Then, periodically, look back over your comments and note 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. People often 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 time 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, the next time you have an emotional reaction to something, try to pause before reacting.
    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. Instead, take the time to understand these triggers and what sets you off. Once these situations are identified, take the time to process your feelings before acting on your instincts.
    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 your feelings puts you in control. Try to choose an appropriate reaction rather than just reacting to these feelings.
    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 direction to take throughout your 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 and 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 healthily – Eating well sounds easy, but regulating what you eat and drink can significantly affect your emotional state, so try your best to maintain a balanced diet.
    3. Don’t get mad – Funnel your emotional energy into something productive. Keeping overwhelming emotions inside is okay, 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, 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, think about where you want to be, and set some targets for yourself. Then, base them on your strengths, 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 an optimistic mindset. See problems and setbacks as learning opportunities instead of failings. Try to avoid negative people and 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 feelings, desires, triggers, and fears. To be empathetic, you’re allowing their experiences to resonate with your own and to respond appropriately. It’s a lifelong skill and the most important one for navigating relationships, and while it may not come naturally, there are ways to nurture empathy.
    1. Listen – Before you can empathize with someone, you first need to understand what they’re saying, which means listening is at the very epicenter of empathy. It involves letting the other person 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 helpful advice.
    4. Open yourself up – One of the quickest ways to offer a genuine exchange or sign of empathy is to listen to someone’s experiences and connect to them 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 effectively handle and influence other people’s emotions. It covers various abilities, from communication and conflict management to dealing with change, meeting new people, and building relationships. It plays a part in almost every aspect of our lives, from work to personal life. It isn’t effortless 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 improve 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 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 many opportunities for you to gain and develop your social skills. Emails and texts are often easily misinterpreted. In face-to-face conversations, tone, expression, and body language can help clarify your emotions in a stressful situation. So next time, meet up or Zoom instead of instant messaging or emailing your response. 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 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 are vital in 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 social skills is to get out and be sociable. It sounds simple, but you can’t strengthen your social skills without being social! Join a group or network outside your usual circle; it’s the perfect way to put all 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 newly 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 what to do.
  • Acknowledge what people are saying – Another helpful tip is while listening, use acknowledgment words like “I understand” and “I see.” This active listening shows a person you’re listening to them, but of course, only say these things if you are paying attention to them.
  • 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, 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 privately.
    3. Negativity – Emotionally intelligent people can curb negative thoughts. They acknowledge that negative thoughts are just that – thoughts – and rely on facts to come to conclusions and silence or zone out any negativity.
    4. Dwelling on the past – People with high emotional Intelligence learn from their mistakes instead of dwelling on history. They are mindful of living 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 others’ 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. Instead, 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 can reach your full potential and achieve your goals.

If improving your EQ and leadership skills is a priority, check out this Leadership Development Zoom class: https://leading2leadership.com/product/the-leadership-mentor-a-workshop-for-leadership-excellence/.

Many thanks to RocheMartin for portions of this article.

About rich@leading2leadership.com

Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on Amazon.com and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at www.leading2leadership.com.

Leave a Comment