Emotional intelligence is the ability
to identify, understand and manage
your own emotions
and the emotions of others.
This intelligence includes your ability to be aware of your own and other’s emotions and using emotions effectively to make decisions.
Having worked on my own EQ for many years, I am much more aware that times when I am feeling anxious have much more to do with me that the other person/ event. I am even beginning to understand how I come to have these ‘buttons’ that can so easily be pushed. I am slowly getting better at communicating this as well.
However, I still make mistakes. Like the other day when I sent an email whilst angry. It has backfired on me – a good reminder that reacting rather than responding is not constructive or effective.
So I continue to work and research. Some of the books that have opened my eyes tremendously are “The Four Agreements” by don Miguel Ruiz, as well as “EQ: Emotional Intelligence for Everyone” by Stephanie Vermeulen.
From my research and my own practise I have experienced that these 7 steps go a long way towards improving EQ.
Steps to Improving Emotional Intelligence
- Get in touch with your own emotions. Look up how many words there are for emotions – and keep a list handy. Once or twice a day identify the emotions you are feeling and, if possible, link the feeling to an event. It is useful to keep a journal handy in which to jot this down. For instance, if you are feeling upset, try to identify when the feeling began. Was it when you walked into the office? Or when your colleague told you they were engaged? Or when your boss sent an email asking to see you later? Getting in touch with your emotions like this helps you to understand your own values and drivers.
- Identify your stress triggers (step 1 can help with this). Reflect back on when you were really angry or flew off the handle. Can you pinpoint what happened. What might your stress triggers be? How did you react and what is a better way to respond?
- Respond rather than react. Stephen Covey put it this way: Create a gap before you react. When you experience high negative emotions, resist the temptation to react straight away. Tell the person/s involved you will get back to them. Now let off steam in a safe space. A great way is to write in your journal, or better some scrap paper – In writing you can shout, swear, scream, call the person all the names you like. Keep writing until you are calmer and have more clarity. It’s a good idea to destroy the scrap of paper. Now go back and sort out the issue.
- Develop the skill of embracing arguments. If your response is to get defensive, yell and scream or run away (like me – and I am working very hard on this one) then you have some work to do. A person with a high EQ encourages the angry person to speak more. They listen . They respond with statements like: “You seem so angry; what happened that upset you the most?” They listen for long enough that the other person feels heard and understood. Then together they find a solution. So powerful!!
- Open you mind to other people’s ideas. Low EQ people tune out when someone has an opinion they disagree with. They close their minds. Instead of labeling people as stupid or ignorant and withdrawing, the high EQ person listens and looks for common ground. They are not hooked by the opinions of others. They listen to the opinions of others in an open-minded fashion, then question whether their own opinion is still valid. The high EQ person holds onto their opinions unless they hear convincing logic that another opinion is better, at which stage they are willing to let go of their original opinion. The high EQ person does not change their opinion based on the emotions that are flying around.
- Get into their heads and emotions. If someone is angry, pretend you are them; feel what they are feeling; picture what they are seeing. This can help you to truly understand what is happening.
- Keep your eye on the body language of others. Become more observant: look at their eyes, the way they hold their bodies, their shoulders, their breathing, their hands, their colouring. These bodily manifestations give you a much greater clue as to what is going on inside the other than just their words.
Don’t try to implement all these steps at once. Start with the one that feels the easiest to you. Work with it for a month or two, then tackle another step.
Improving your emotional intelligence is not done with a click of the fingers. It requires slow and steady work. Practicing and experimenting over time leads to automation of the new skill.
Each small improvement you make opens the way to healthier and more stable relationships – at work and at home.
Let me know how it goes; share your success stories and your difficulties.
When dealing with people,
remember you are not dealing
with creatures of logic,
but creatures of emotion.
Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net