10 Ideas For How To Improve Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a term that's been around for a while, but it still confuses some people and isn't known by everyone. In addition, not everyone agrees on exactly what it means or how it works. How do we define emotional intelligence? What are ways we can improve our own levels of EQ? And what effect does an improvement in EQ have on personal and professional relationships?

Emotional intelligence is something that comes naturally to some people, but not everyone. It's possible to improve your emotional intelligence with practice and effort, though. In this article, learn how you can improve your emotional intelligence to improve your relationships and achieve success.

Definition of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence Defined

First, let's talk about how to define what exactly EQ is. An emotional Quotient (EQ) is an individual's ability to identify and manage their own emotions, as well as the emotions of other people. For some people, this comes more naturally than it does for others.

How Can Emotional Intelligence Improve Your Life

People with high levels of emotional intelligence tend to be more successful in life and do better at work than their peers with lower emotional intelligence. How does emotional intelligence improve your relationships? If you get along better with others, you'll get ahead socially and professionally because of it. When you improve your EQ, people will like working with you more and helping you out because they're able to relate to you better. Plus, increased focus on interpersonal skills boosts self-confidence; if we know we're good at getting along with (and understanding) people in our personal lives and at work, we see ourselves as more overall successful.

Tips on How to Improve Your EQ

Now that we've defined emotional intelligence and looked at how improved EQ can improve relationships both personally and professionally, let's talk about ways you can improve your own levels of emotional intelligence.

Identify What Emotions You're Feeling

Feeling difficult emotions like anger or sadness doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with you; it means that you're experiencing something negative in the moment. Think back to a recent situation where you felt an intense emotion and try to remember exactly what was going on before and after the moment when you felt that emotion - this will help give context for how the emotion affected you.

Stay In The Moment 

When we're stressed out and overwhelmed, it's easy to think that everything negative that happens is because of something we did or didn't do. We can't control what happened before, but we can control how we react to our feelings now. Try not to dwell on the past; instead, focus on what you want your future to be like.

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Identify Your Triggers

Negative emotions like guilt and shame aren't logical (meaning they don't make sense), but they feel completely real and important at the time when you're feeling them. To improve your EQ skills, try keeping a journal where you record every time an uncomfortable emotion comes up and then write about why that emotion occurred based on specific events or triggers.

10 Tips On How To Improve Emotional Intelligence

In addition to the above suggestions, here are 10 quick tips to improve your EQ: 

  1. Read books on emotional intelligence is a great first step. You can learn ways to improve self-awareness, improve both professional and personal relationships, and ways to remain calm in stressful situations. Books can help you to learn and recognize different body language cues in others, in your effort to build a high EQ.
  2. Take a course on EQ. Emotional intelligence training, like the program created by A Better Leader, is available to incorporate into your workplace, and your whole team can complete it together.
  3. Watch videos about the topic. There are numerous TEDTalks and Youtube videos available that discuss the importance of emotional intelligence, the impact it can have on your personal and professional relationships, etc.
  4. Talk to your partner, family, friends about how they make you feel emotionally. Acknowledging your emotions and behaviors in your personal life is a great way to identify emotional triggers and practice self-awareness.
  5. Attend a support group or therapy and improve your emotional awareness and expression. A professional can help you to manage emotions, find healthy ways to overcome stress, as well as improve your overall mental health.
  6. Learn to listen to the feelings of others and not dismiss them as unimportant. Other people's emotions are not to be downplayed, and this is an extremely important way to build stronger relationships. Empathy and authenticity are social skills that both contribute to higher levels of emotional intelligence.
  7. Listen carefully to what you say about yourself, how it makes you feel, and own that experience. Self-esteem can be highly improved when you have high levels of emotional intelligence, and being able to manage your thoughts and feelings about yourself is an essential skill as well.
  8. Practice feeling all kinds of emotions deeply; anger, love, joy, sadness. A sign of high EQ is the ability to remain calm in difficult situations, and have the ability to recognize all spectrums of emotions, but not necessarily act on them in the moment. Feeling anger is an instinct, but reacting while being angry can be avoided if you have self-awareness. In contract, empathy is not always easy to extend to others when you are in the midst of an argument or heated debate, but shows high emotional intelligence. Actively work to respond to people and situations, rather than react without taking the time to think it through.
  9. Notice when your mood changes every day (over time) and try to figure out why. Being proactive rather than reactive is the name of the game; you'll have to intentionally work on being empathetic in situations that may normally lead you to react combatively. Practice empathy, be willing to take responsibility for your actions and apologize when it's required.
  10. Try meditating - spend 10 minutes at different points throughout your day focusing on how you're feeling in your body. There are apps like Calm and Aura available to help guide you if you're not sure where to start.

It can be difficult to improve your EQ, but it's worth the effort. Improving emotional intelligence will improve how you relate to others and lead to better personal relationships as well as professional success. 

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About the Author Walter Orechwa

Walter is IRI's Director of Digital Solutions and founder of UnionProof & A Better Leader. As the creator of Union Proof Certification, Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.