How to boost your emotional intelligence
The world has changed. Some 20-30 years ago people were preoccupied with survival, that’s why they did not actively engage in self-development or personal effectiveness. Now the situation is different: many devote time to improving their intellectual abilities, acquiring useful skills and new professions even at the age of 40 or 50. In my opinion, this is a good choice.
Yet, if we rank skills by their usefulness and value, I would put emotional intelligence (EQ) first, that is, the ability to recognize and manage your own and other people’s emotions.
In his book “Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ” a famous American psychologist Daniel Goleman writes:
“Emotional intelligence matters immensely for our personal destiny. Teachers need to be comfortable talking about feelings. This is part of teaching emotional literacy – a set of skills we can all develop, including the ability to read, understand, and respond appropriately to one’s own emotions and the emotions of others”.
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Indeed, it is worth developing EQ since birth and not just from school days – first, of course, with the help of parents and teachers, and then independently. A person with a high level of emotional intelligence easily builds relationships with others, knows how to control him or herself, is less prone to stress and bad mood. As a consequence, such people often achieve success in all spheres: career, health, relationships, quality of life in general.
Here are some other things that people with a high EQ level can do easily:
- concentrate on a specific task, despite the presence of distracting or irritating factors
- motivate themselves to achieve the desired results
- quickly change negative emotions to positive ones
- take reasonable and not emotional decisions
- be more attentive to other people and understand them better
- persistently pursue their goals despite the obstacles and failures
Is there not enough reason to think about the EQ development? However, it is worth remembering one important thing: EQ cannot be developed once and for all. It requires work throughout the entire life. After all, you need not only to know yourself and your reactions to what is happening. It is also important to understand why others react in one way or another and what you should do about it. And this is not a task for one month.
Let’s start our fascinating journey to boosting the EQ level right now. And we will do it with the following simple steps.
1. Watching TV series
In some cases, soap operas are an invaluable source of good. For example, they are very helpful in learning a foreign language. And if you watch them with the sound off, you can learn to recognize emotions.
So, watch any series, preferably Brazilian or Mexican, with the sound off. Try to understand what is happening on the screen and what emotions the characters are experiencing. Name these emotions: resentment, joy, confusion, despair, remorse, etc. Now turn the sound back on and check whether you were right or wrong.
But what if you can’t stand soap operas? Just watch people more often to learn how to recognize non-verbal cues: facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc. Having understood what others feel, you can better understand them and build stronger relationships with them.
2. Studying yourself
To know others is an excellent goal for someone who has already known him or herself. But if you are not yet among these lucky ones, then here’s what you can do.
Look at yourself from the outside. Notice your first emotion when you wake up and your last one when you go to bed. It is even better to set the alarm for several periods during the day, for example, 11 AM, 3 PM, 7 PM, 10 PM. Upon the signal, put all your work aside, take a few deep breaths and answer these questions: what emotion are you experiencing now? How is it reflected in your body? What provoked this emotion in you? In time, you will learn to do this in a natural way, transforming from the bearer of an emotion into its observer.
Recognizing and naming emotions is half the battle. What is more important is your reaction to them. For example, you are annoyed. How does this affect communication with your colleagues, with your loved ones? What effect does this or that emotion have on your productivity?
Do not follow your boss’s example who yells at his employees because the morning quarrel with his wife upset him. Making others responsible for your emotions is wrong. What is right is accepting this responsibility, controlling your feelings, taking balanced decisions and acting in a corresponding way. This is what makes a mature person. Besides, it is always nice to deal with someone poised and friendly.
Remember the difference between a reaction and a response. A reaction is an instantaneous reflex to the source of irritation. For example, you are interrupted during a conversation, and you snap at this person.
The response is a conscious process, during which you first notice what emotion you are experiencing, and then decide how to react. For example, in this case, it might look like this: “Sorry, I’m a bit cranky this morning, so now I better not be distracted. Is it okay if we come back to your issue a bit later?”
3. Accepting any emotions without guilt
Do not judge yourself for experiencing anger, jealousy or resentment. All of this also has a right to exist. Treat each feeling as useful information that is directly related to what is happening in your inner world. Without this information, you would remain ignorant and would not know how to behave and what to do.
For example, if you caught yourself envying someone, what does this emotion tell you? Perhaps it’s time to work on your self-esteem.
Positive feelings are even more worthy of analysis. Notice the moments when you feel happy. This will help you recreate similar situations in the future.
4. Developing empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand what others are feeling and empathize with them. If you have developed empathy, then, most likely, you are difficult to unbalance. After all, you know perfectly well that, for instance, the man next door is rude to everyone around, because he is very lonely and nobody loves him, and that teenage boy snarls at his grandmother because he is suffering from her hyperprotection.
To understand what other people feel, you need to learn how to listen to them, put yourself in their shoes and understand what they go through or have gone through in life. When you see somebody’s stormy reaction, ask yourself: “How would I behave in such a situation?” Developed empathy will help you to achieve better mutual understanding.
5. More lightness and fun!
In life, there is always room for a good joke or some silly stuff. Do not take yourself and your situations too seriously. When you are optimistic, you notice the beauty of the world more easily. In addition, you have more opportunities, because others reach out for energetic and positive people. So humor and cheerful nature are the true companions of people with a high level of emotional intelligence.
As I said before, it is necessary to work on the EQ for the entire life. But here are the simple steps which you can start from:
- Learn to recognize other people’s emotions through non-verbal cues: facial expressions, gestures, posture. To train yourself, watch TV series with the sound off or just watch people around you.
- Study yourself: notice your emotions throughout the day, learn to name them and understand what they are caused by.
- Accept the responsibility for any of your negative emotions, do not make others responsible. Recognize the emotion and take a well-balanced decision as to how to react.
- Do not blame yourself for having negative feelings, but perceive them as a source of information about you and your inner world.
- Develop empathy. Learn to put yourself in other people’s shoes for a better understanding.
- Do not take life too seriously. There is always room for humor and fun. Remember that the world opens more doors for optimists.