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  • Daniel Chua

How to Become More Emotionally Intelligent

You’ve likely heard the term “emotional intelligence,” which was first used in 1990. Emotional intelligence is commonly described as the ability to perceive, evaluate, and manage emotions in others and ourselves. Your ability to manage yourself and others are dependent on your emotional intelligence. In fact, many experts consider it to be a better indicator of success than someone's IQ.

Organisations are now assessing a prospective hire's EQ in their recruitment process, and preferring a candidate's EQ over his or her IQ. It is therefore of utmost importance for you to become emotionally intelligent if you want to be successful in your career and life.

There are certain techniques you can use to increase your emotional intelligence:

1. Accept responsibility for your emotions and actions.

Stop playing the blame-game. You have control over how you feel and act. Realise that outside influences may affect your emotions and behaviour, but they don't determine them. You can view things from a different perspective, and choose how you’ll respond.

2. Work on your listening skills.

I am guilty of talking too much when I was growing up until I realised that the best communicators spent 80% of their time practising active and reflective listening.

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 hide one’s emotions, but you still have to pay attention to be informed of how someone is feeling at that moment in time. The more information you have, the better you can respond.

3. Develop self-awareness.

We’re constantly monitoring our bank accounts and the number on the bathroom scale. Yet, few of us monitor our thoughts, emotions, and behaviour. Ask yourself throughout the day what you’re feeling. Is the way you’re feeling negatively affecting your choices?

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

4. Learn to effectively deal with your impulses.

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. This type of behaviour moves us further away from our objectives.

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 with those less fortunate.

Serve in your local community. Get involved with the weak, the broken and the vulnerable. Reach out to those in crisis. Spending time with those in need will increase your sensitivity to 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 sensitivity for others.

6. Keep the focus on responding.

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 without thinking it through? How would you have handled the situation differently? What can you do to give yourself 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. Work at increasing your empathy.

Those with high levels of emotional intelligence are skilled at recognizing and relating to the emotions of others. Recognizing that someone is upset will allow you to have a more effective response.

Ask yourself how you would like to be treated if you were feeling the same emotions.

You probably know someone highly skilled at managing their emotions. Their emphasis is on finding solutions. They refrain from getting angry or defensive. These individuals make intelligent decisions and can view themselves objectively.

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

Be intentional about developing a higher EQ. Invest in a systematic process such as coaching to help you do that.

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