First, we will define what emotional intelligence is. According to Wikipedia, emotional intelligence is the ability to guess the emotions, intentions, motivations, and desires of other people, as well as the ability to control one's own emotions and feelings to solve particular problems.
It is customary to talk about the evaluation of intelligence in reference to the level of IQ. However, only having high-level IQ is not enough for success; it is also important to understand the feelings and emotions of people. This is especially important in sales, marketing, and management and leadership. In fact, emotional intelligence is the most important component in these industries (along with other ones).
Because we are always in contact with other people, improving your emotional intelligence helps you in both your career and your personal life.
That is why training on the development of emotional intelligence is very useful to everyone, regardless of their field, from the head of the company down to the rank-and-file employees.
Emotional intelligence training may spark the interest of not only companies that wish to foster the growth of their staff, but also individuals pursuing self-development.
There are more than enough opportunities for the development of emotional intelligence now, including a range of online courses and training from business schools, books, etc.
According to the Association for Talent Development, there are four main skills which determine emotional intelligence:
- Self-awareness characterizes the ability to recognize one's own emotions and act in certain ways in certain situations;
- Social awareness characterizes the ability to recognize the emotions of other people – what they think about and feel;
- Self-management characterizes the ability to correct one's actions, realizing one's own emotions;
- Relationship management characterizes the ability to use one's own knowledge about the emotions of others to adjust one's actions.
The first step on the way to improving emotional intelligence is to understand how to recognize your own emotions and feelings. Perhaps this first step is the most important one, so we’ll present you with tips on how to improve your emotional intelligence:
1. Tune into your own emotions.
In our daily routine, we may be used to ignoring our own emotions and feelings and acting more like a machine than a human. When this happens, we can lose sight of the valuable things that are present in our emotions – important information regarding our responses to a certain situation, event or person.
Our emotional reaction to something can be linked to various factors – for example, a previous experience, or a problem that has not been worked out.
When we learn to accept and understand our own emotions, we can also manage them, and this is a qualitatively new level of emotional intelligence.
Here is one simple, practical exercise:
Set a timer for certain intervals, for example, each day at 11:00. When the timer goes off, put all your business aside for a few minutes and sit for a while in silence, breathing evenly and deeply. You will see how quickly entering into a new sense of peace and tranquility becomes a habit for you. Such emotional recharging sessions are very helpful in setting up productive work.
2. Do not shy away from the topic.
Do not try to avoid particular feelings by changing the topic, even if they are unpleasant to you. Instead, sit down and carefully analyze your emotional state – what’s happening to your feelings, why they’re occurring, and how to react to them correctly. In this process, one should not hurry or rush things. It takes some time to understand yourself.
3. Do not rush to draw conclusions and adjust your emotions without understanding them.
Before you try to adjust your emotions, you should understand them correctly. A human being is quite complicated by nature, and sometimes the reason for a particular feeling is not what it seems to be at first glance.
As a rule, the emotions of a human can be compared to a wave in the sea – they rise to a certain level (wave crest), and then gradually subside until they disappear completely.
Having understood the true cause of one or another emotion, you can calm the wave even at its peak.
Our emotions are often related to what we’ve experienced before, and a certain situation can cause these memories to pop up. Think about when and how you felt the same emotions, and perhaps this will help you understand the true cause.
4. Harmonize your feelings and thoughts.
Sometimes certain events happen that shock you and knock you out of your usual life rhythm. In such a situation it will be useful to ask yourself what you think about it.
A human is a contradictory being; our feelings frequently contradict both one another and rational thought. To achieve effective self-management, it is necessary to harmonize everything within yourself.
5. Pay attention to your behavior.
Our main goal is to learn how to manage emotions: first your own, and then those of other people. To achieve this result, first, you need to understand the true nature of these emotions.
To better understand your emotional state, you may need to evaluate your behavior.
How do you act in a particular situation, how do your actions affect your emotions, and how does all this affect your life? How does your communication with others affect your sense of satisfaction? Do not try to judge yourself and your behavior immediately, at the moment when the event occurs. To separate emotions from rational judgments, you have to let these emotions fade. Then you will be able to assess the situation more rationally.
6. Your body’s reactions will help you.
Often emotions manifest themselves in the physical reactions of the body. For example, a certain level of nervosity at work indicates that you are uncomfortable in the work environment, and this can be a signal to change your employment or even career field. Your body can tell you what is better for you.
7. Ask others what they think about your feelings.
Sometimes you can take a look at things from the outside to see things that you would not usually notice – for example, the expression on your face in a particular situation. Such information can greatly help in understanding your own emotions, so do not hesitate to ask for help from your relatives or friends.
8. Evaluate your own unconscious feelings.
How can you understand your own unconscious feelings? Give free rein to your thoughts and see where they lead you. Think about your dreams. Write down how you feel if one of your dreams pops up in your head, again and again, causing a surge of certain emotions.
9. Assess your current emotional state.
Ask yourself: "How do I feel today?" Try to assess your emotional state numerically, for example, from 0 (awful) to 10 (fantastic). Track the dynamics of your condition and analyze the trends and the factors that caused changes.
10. Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings.
Spend some time for the daily recording of your feelings and thoughts – get a special diary for this. By regularly recording your experiences, and then analyzing these records, you will be able to find interesting thoughts for yourself and see how your personality is changing or reacting to certain things.
11. You are responsible for your emotions and behavior.
Here we are, perhaps at the main step – take control of your feelings and emotions. Because you are the source of your feelings, emotions, and thoughts, you and only you can take control of them.
Remember that your behavior is entirely your responsibility, even if someone is deliberately trying to provoke you. In any situation, it is important to remain in control.
Once you take full responsibility for your actions, this will immediately have a positive impact on all aspects of your life.
12. Responding is better than reacting.
The difference between responding and reacting is as follows: in the first case, the action is the result of thinking, and in the second case it is a purely emotional response.
You probably understand that instant emotional action can have a devastating effect on you, both at work and in your personal life. The other option is responding rationally. After having thought a little and having calmed down, you will be able to make a rational decision, which will be better for everyone.
13. Practice empathy.
Empathy is an understanding of how and why other people feel or behave the way they do, and the separation of these feelings and emotions can convey this understanding to them.
Having good empathy skills can significantly improve your own EI. You have to start with yourself. Once you’ve understood your feelings, emotions, motives, and reasons for a particular action, you can apply the same approach to other people.
14. Be in a positive environment.
It is difficult to master your own emotions and feelings while being in a state of constant stress. A harmonious person should live in comfortable and safe conditions. When you feel safe and confident, you can start working on yourself.
15. Understand when to finish.
As you deepen your journey into self-observation and self-knowledge, remember that there must come a time when you need to stop watching yourself and switch to others.
Emotional intelligence is not only about self-observation, but also about sending the right message to the outside world.
16. EI development should continue throughout life.
Working on your emotional intelligence, as well as rational intelligence, should never stop. Even when it seems to you that you have mastered all the necessary knowledge and skills, in order not to lose the achieved results, it is necessary to continue to practice.
But this is not all. There are also things that must be avoided. Here are some enemies on the path to mastering emotional intelligence:
Sometimes cynical thoughts can get into the head of any person. It is important to learn how not to give them power over yourself. It is better to be guided by common sense and logic. Rational evaluation will eliminate the negative thoughts.
In especially difficult or even critical situations, emotions can take precedence. These emotions do not help to solve the problem but only exacerbate the situation. That's why it's important to learn how to manage emotions even in difficult situations. Drama is useful to an actor in a theater, but not to a person at work.
Complaining is very harmful to a person for two reasons: 1) You consider yourself a victim, and 2) You believe there is no way out of your situation. To get away from this imagined hopelessness, one must stop complaining. Remember, whatever happens, you can always change your situation.
Concentration on the past
Whatever happened in the past we cannot go back to it; from all our experience, one can only make conclusions and live on. There is no point in coming back to the past again and again. Life goes on, and you have to live in the present.
Of course, each of us has a healthy share of selfishness, but it is important not to overstep the mark. We live in a society, and we need to take into account the experiences and needs of others. This is also an important part of emotional intelligence.
Criticism is important and necessary, but not in excess, especially if it concerns other people. No matter how deeply you understand the motives of other people, remember that you cannot fully understand a person’s certain circumstances, so do not rush to criticize others – it can only harm your relationship.
Do not succumb to the pressure of others
We all have different goals, motives, and feelings, so do not accept the experience of others unreservedly. You should always evaluate in advance whether it is worth using the advice of a person or not. Remember that the responsibility for your choice is always on you, even if this choice is imposed on you by others.
By understanding and applying key points in the development of emotional intelligence, you will be able to advance in the development of it, which will allow you to reach new heights in your personal life and your career.