How To Improve Emotional Intelligence
Updated on 18 Oct 2023 • 4 min read • posted by Tania
«Man is a social animal» — Aristotle.
Over 2000 years ago, Aristotle articulated one of the most defining traits of the human species: the need for social interactions.
We live in society and need others to thrive.
Yet, as natural as interacting with others might be for us, human beings, we’re not all created equal when it comes to being in tune with others, effectively communicating and establishing strong relationships.
One of the most critical components of effective communication is called emotional intelligence (EI). And this is a skill few of us completely master.
In this blog, we’ll define what emotional intelligence is and we’ll explain why developing your emotional intelligence skills is so important. Then, we’ll share three tips on how to improve emotional intelligence.
What is Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability for individuals to understand and control their own emotions as well as understand the emotions of those around them. Having a high degree of emotional intelligence means that you’re able to identify your feelings and emotions, and understand how they impact you and people around you. And it also means that you can identify others’ feelings and emotions, and adjust your reactions accordingly.
Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence
According to American Psychologist Daniel Goleman, one of the first to discuss the concept, emotional intelligence includes five key components:
Being self-aware means that you always know how you feel and understand how your feelings or emotions can affect others around you.
Self regulation is all about managing your emotions and staying in control. People who are able to self regulate rarely attack others verbally or make impulsive decisions.
Being self-motivated allows you to consistently work towards your goals no matter what and setting high standards for yourself to succeed.
Being empathetic means that you’re able to put yourself into someone else’s shoes, understand what they’re going through and keep an objective stance on a situation. And you’re also able to respond to feelings in a kind and thoughtful way as well as find compromise to improve the outcome of a specific situation for all parties.
People who excel in the social skill component of emotional intelligence are generally fantastic communicators adept at resolving conflicts and handling change. They’re open to feedback and always strive to improve. They’re also eager to support others and help them achieve their goals.
Why is Emotional Intelligence Important
Developing your EQ is critical to professional success as companies are now prioritizing this skill when recruiting. That’s because studies have shown the positive effect employees with a high EQ have on the bottom line of a company. According to research, these employees are more productive and perform better, thus underpinning the growth of any business. And this, in turn, means that people with high emotional intelligence are more likely to be promoted and have a pay rise.
In the workplace, individuals with a high level of EQ are able to foster genuine relationships and create extensive networks, successfully resolve conflict, communicate their needs effectively and support their team to help each team member achieve their professional goals.
At school, students who possess strong emotional intelligence skills are able to overcome exam stress, stay focused for a long period, recognize anxiety and seek help to reduce symptoms to improve their academic performance.
Regardless of your background and current situation, having a high EQ allows you to be in touch with your feelings, recognize problems and create an effective plan of action to overcome them.
How to Improve Emotional Intelligence
The good news is that unlike your IQ, which is constant throughout your life, there are several ways to improve your EQ.
Here are some of the most effective ones:
Pay Attention to Your Emotions
One of the most important things to do if you want to improve your EQ is to acknowledge how you feel when experiencing situations throughout the day. This will allow you to identify scenarios that trigger specific emotions, understand how these emotions affect your body and behavior and adjust the way you react.
Also, whenever you interact with others notice the way you express yourself. You might realize that you’re often using negative expressions. Or perhaps you have closed body language or your facial expressions mean something opposite to your words. Paying close attention to the way you express yourself and react when others are interacting with you is an important step on the path to improving your emotional intelligence skills.
Developing your empathy skills will help you significantly increase your emotional intelligence. Becoming a more active listener, and paying close attention to what people are saying, without judgement, will help you better understand what they’re going through and adjust the way you react and respond. Instead of letting your thoughts wander, focus on every word the other person says, ask open-ended questions and summarize what has been discussed to show you care about them and what they feel.
Being able to identify and understand other people’s emotions and adapt accordingly is a sign of emotional intelligence.
However, note that empathy isn’t just about listening to words others are saying.
Whenever you’re interacting with colleagues, friends, or family members, focus on both verbal and non-verbal cues. While people might be saying they feel good, their body language or facial expressions might convey different emotions such as sadness, frustration, or anger.
Also when a conflict arises, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. While it’s not always easy and personal circumstances don’t excuse unacceptable behaviors, putting yourself in other people’s shoes will help you gain insight on someone's specific circumstances and de-escalate the situation. Being empathetic is the best way to remind yourself that everyone faces challenges every now and then and some situations require a carefully thought-out response.
Bounce Back From Adversity
As discussed, we all encounter challenges throughout our lives. What makes the difference between success and struggle is the way you react to them as they arise. Positive thinking is critical and so is asking constructive questions and learning from every situation you experience.
Instead of complaining, letting something upset you and dwell on a particular problem, practice optimism. Analyze the situation and assess what you could have done better and what would have been a more appropriate way to react.
This way, the next time a similar situation arises, you’ll be equipped to respond adequately.
We hope this article will help you better understand how to increase emotional intelligence. Always keep in mind that every situation, experience and interaction is an opportunity for you to test your emotional intelligence and improve it. So start noticing your emotions and analyzing the impact your behavior has on others today and you’ll already be on your way to increasing your EQ skills.