Emotional intelligence—or “EQ”—is one of the most powerful tools for success in life. If you think about it it’s arguably a bigger factor than IQ in determining the success of within our lives. IQ is a "test" thought up by a specific cultural group to measure what they deemed is important. While EQ is something more fundamental. Emotions are something that weaves within any and every culture, and it's a language we all speak. Since relationships are at the core of everything we do in life, it makes sense that EQ would be at the top of the list for crucial life skills. Know what I mean?
What is EQ?
Emotional intelligence has five main components:
1. Self-awareness—The ability to understand our own emotions, where they come from, and what effects they have on others.
2. Motivation—An internal drive to do better and achieve more.
3. Self-regulation—Our ability to control our emotions, especially when things get tense. People with high EQ will avoid hurling personal insults or engaging in emotional outbursts.
4. Empathy—The ability to recognize the feelings of others and put ourselves in their place for better understanding.
5. Social skills—Being able to communicate what we mean so that others understand.
When we’re skilled in all of these areas, we can readily gain the support of others, avoid conflicts and lower stress. Our relationships—both personal and professional—will flourish.
How to increase your EQ
Unlike IQ, emotional intelligence is something we can develop with practice and time. It’s a skill that will pay off many times over in the workplace, at home, in your romantic life—and for your own peace of mind.
Here are 4 ways to improve emotional intelligence:
1. Pay attention to your own feelings
One of the first steps in improving your EQ is being aware of how you feel. It may seem simple enough, but your own feelings can be hijacked by your ego and neglected by your intellect in day-to-day life. This can increase stress and affect other people around you as you become more fatigued from built-up pressure.
Start with body language. Pause and pay attention to your body language when you experience different emotions, positive or negative. What do you instinctively do when you get bad news? A lot of people will clench their fists, tighten their breathing, and tense up their shoulders. Release the tension consciously and take control of your breath.
Also, consider writing down your feelings in a journal. It’s not only a good release but can help you understand more details about how you came to feel a certain way.
2. Observe other people
How do people react around you in different situations or when you do certain things? Many people with low EQ will blame others for their feelings and reactions, never taking responsibility for how they process external events. By paying close attention to others, you may notice a pattern of personal behavior that will give you the opportunity to nip your negative and reactionary responses in the bud.
Pause before reacting and put yourself into the other person’s place. How would you feel in his or her position? What could be a possible reason for their behavior? I’ll often tell my shorter fuse clients to try this while driving. It’s a quick way to release tension and prevent road rage. Sure, “X” drove fast and cut me off, but maybe “X” just had a fight with his or her boss or spouse and isn’t conscious of their emotion manifesting itself in their driving. That’s not a justification, but understanding others’ behavior helps diffuse many situations—while also making us better negotiators.
4. Active listening
Here’s one skill that many people could improve(including myself). Active listening is a deliberate attempt to not only hear what someone is saying but to understand it. This sounds simple enough, but many people will nod to give the impression of listening, but will actually just be waiting to reply—or ignore the other person altogether.
Those with low EQ will impulsively start talking about themselves every chance they get, no matter what the topic is.
For active listening, try the “Snowball Technique.” This approach, when successfully employed, will build a conversation, “snowballing” into mutual understanding. Here’s how it works:
Listen to his/her words—Focus on each thing he/she says and pay attention to key points. This will come in handy later.
Repeat the message back to him/her—Repackage what he/she just said in your own words. This will show that you’re listening and also help you understand better because you’re using your own language. Any misunderstandings can be filtered out here.
Add your opinion, if appropriate—To keep things conversational, consider adding your two cents. But be aware of others sharing thoughts or feelings that don’t need your opinion. In these cases, just acknowledge that you heard and understand.
Dig deeper—Now bring it full circle and ask a “why” question. Why is he/she interested in that? Why did he/she start engaging in this activity? This question will uncover motivations and go beyond the superficial.
Recall—Since you were paying close attention, you’ll be able to bring up points or topics that came up earlier in the conversation. You can tie it into the current topic or move to another one. Either way, your listening abilities will be clear and will create the opportunity to connect on a deeper level.
In the political and emotional environment, we find ourselves in today, developing you Emotional Intelligence(EQ) will put you in a unique position to listen to others putting you in a good position with the person you're listening to. Just that in and of itself helps to make the world a better place. Here's to being the change you want to see in the world.
Emotional Intelligence - School Of Life