7 Ways to Develop Your Emotional Intelligence

You’ve likely heard the term “emotional intelligence,” which was coined by psychologists in 1990. Emotional intelligence is commonly described as the ability to perceive, evaluate, and manage emotions in others and ourselves. Many experts consider it to be a better indicator for success than someone’s IQ. Your ability to manage yourself and others is dependent on your emotional intelligence.

Try these techniques to develop and increase your emotional intelligence:

1. Take Accountability. Accept responsibility for your emotions and actions – work to not shy away from the truths regarding your behavior and how you make people feel. Realize that outside influences don’t determine your emotions and behavior. Only you have the control and power to determine how you act. You can view things from a different perspective and choose how you’ll respond.

2. Listen Up. Work on your listening skills through actually hearing people and comprehending their explicit and implicit messages. The majority of people focus on what their response will be in a conversation instead of focusing on what is being said to them – this is the root of misunderstanding. If you force yourself to focus 100% on whoever you’re interacting with, you’ll be in a better position to notice and evaluate what they’re thinking and feeling.

  • It isn’t easy to put our emotions aside, but it is highly beneficial in attempting to pay someone else with your full attention. The more information you gather, the better you can respond.

3. Increase Self-awareness. We’re constantly monitoring our bank accounts and the number on the bathroom scale. Yet, few of us monitor our true individual thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Ask yourself throughout the day what you’re feeling. Is the way you’re feeling negatively affecting your choices? Further develop your self-awareness and make it stronger, so that you can be in-the-know of where you personally stand, while in the midst of others.

  • Are you choosing your behaviors in an intelligent manner or allowing others to push your buttons?

4. Control What’s in Your Control. Learn to effectively deal with your impulses. When you can display discipline and tell yourself ‘no, don’t do that’ or ‘yes, do that’, you are controlling what you can. Impulsiveness is a common cause of personal turmoil. We feel bad, so we order a pizza even after we’ve already had dinner. Or we grab a credit card and purchase something unnecessary. Not being able to hold ourselves back from actions that harm us more than help us is a very common display of self-destruction. This type of behavior moves us further away from our goals and objectives. In loving and being in control of yourself, you can stay on track with whatever you want to accomplish.

  • Notice when you’re behaving in a counterproductive manner and strive to make a more effective choice. Being successful and happy can be challenging enough on its own. Avoid sabotaging yourself.

5. Volunteer. Spending time with those in need will increase your sensitivity for others.

  • After witnessing very obvious emotions, you’ll become more skilled at picking up on more subtle cues. You’re also likely to develop greater awareness and understanding of others.

6. Keep Your Cool. Those with lower levels of emotional intelligence react, rather than respond. Responding requires thought and consideration. When you respond, you’re making a decision. Reacting is more like a reflex. There’s no thought involved, just the emotional response.

  • Have you ever regretted saying or doing something because you put little thought into the outcome you’d receive? How would you have handled the situation differently? What can you do to give yourself the mental space to respond more effectively in the future?
  • Avoid lashing out when someone hurts your feelings. Your reaction can make the situation better or worse.

7. Increase Your Empathy. Individuals with the highest emotional intelligence have mastered recognizing and relating to the emotions of others. Recognizing that someone is upset will allow you to have a more effective response.

  • Remember the Golden Rule from grade school: treat others the way you wish to be treated. Turn it into a question and ask yourself how you would like to be treated if you were feeling the same emotions that the person you are engaging with, is displaying.

You probably know someone highly skilled at managing their emotions. Their emphasis is on finding solutions. They refrain from getting angry or defensive. They might even come off as moving slower, or having more time, and that is simply a testament to their patience. Moving through life patiently looks like ease or being without worry. These individuals make intelligent decisions and can view themselves objectively.

Emotional intelligence is an important component of healthy relationships, both at home and work. Your life will be more successful if you can effectively learn how to manage the emotions of yourself while communicating with others. The ability to avoid or de-escalate interpersonal conflict is immensely valuable.

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