When we think of intelligence, a lot of us focus on our ability to collect information or process knowledge. There are other types of intelligence, however, such as emotional intelligence (sometimes referred to as E.Q. or Emotional Quotient.) Having emotional intelligence can strengthen one's ability to connect with others and improve relationships, whether these relationships are on the job or at home.
All About Emotional Intelligence and How to Improve It
Emotional intelligence is one's ability to handle and process emotions, whether they are your own or those of others. People with high emotional intelligence have the ability to empathize with and understand other people and their feelings. High emotional intelligence has been connected with better leadership skills and better mental health. EQ is a skill and just like with any skill, you can work on your emotional intelligence and improve your ability to handle many different types of social situations. How can you improve your emotional intelligence?
Start with yourself
One of the traits of someone who is emotionally intelligent is self-awareness. Self-awareness is the ability to evaluate one's own emotions and actions from outside oneself. Cultivating high emotional intelligence starts with being self-aware and recognizing your true motivations and taking a good look at your behavior and feelings. This also involves accepting yourself and your true feelings, which can be a vulnerable activity for many of us. Still, doing this sort of self-reflection is very important.
Part of being self-aware is understanding your beliefs and looking at why you see things the way you do. Perhaps some of your beliefs have been ingrained since childhood and other beliefs you picked up throughout your life. Doing an inventory of your beliefs is great way to get to know yourself and being open to others' viewpoints is a good way to connect with other people. You don't have to agree with what everyone else thinks, but listening and attempting to understand others is a great way to build one's emotional intelligence.
Take a moment
When you are involved in a difficult situation that involves heightened emotions from others, or perhaps involves your own intense emotions, try to take a moment before responding. Of course, stepping away is not always possible and sometimes you will have to respond immediately, but when you have the opportunity to take time and reflect on a difficult or important issue, you should take it. This way, you can evaluate the issue from all sides and perhaps seek advice from others who can provide valuable insight. Sometimes we can misread a situation or miss important details that could completely change our perspective. Taking a moment to think can ensure that we are formulating a better response.
If you are consistently getting the same feedback from other people, especially from those who care about you, perhaps it is time to listen. Sometimes this feedback may contain constructive criticism, which can be hard to hear, but taking it into account may help you in the future.
Of course, there are always going to be criticisms that miss the mark or those that will come from people who are not actually trying to be helpful, but it is likely that, with practice, you will be able to determine which feedback is valuable and which isn't.
It might seem like a no-brainer, but being an emotionally intelligent person should involve listening to others and truly seeking to understand what they are talking about. So when someone is speaking, ask pertinent follow-up questions, look them in the eye, and put down the cell phone. Really listening is not only an EQ-builder, it will also help you better connect with the person who is speaking and is just good manners.
Whether you are trying to up your EQ to become a better leader in your business or job or you are trying to improve so that you can show up emotionally for the people you care about, improving your emotional intelligence is possible. It simply takes being honest with yourself and performing a true assessment of your behavior as well as a dedication to listening and seeking to understand other people.