To understand how to improve your emotional intelligence and the benefits that come with doing so, we need to first understand emotion. What is emotion? Oxford languages define it as “a strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood or relationship with others”.
Merriam-Webster defines it as a “conscious mental reaction such as anger or fear subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed towards a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioural changes in the body”. From the above definitions we see that emotions are not tangible yet the effects they exert are very much so.
To the extent that some strong emotion produces unexpected changes in the body for better or worse. Human beings are social animals thus it is in our nature to socialize and build communities therefore we all have to a certain extent take people’s emotions and feelings into consideration in our daily interactions with others. This is what emotional intelligence entails.
There is no clear and agreed definition of emotional intelligence however for the sake of this article it is the ability to understand and be aware of one’s own emotions and harness it positively in order to relive stress, communicate better, handle relationships properly and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence is otherwise known as Eq (Emotional Quotient).
The benefits of emotional intelligence cannot be overstated, it allows for good teamwork, handle stressful situations properly, and empathize with others during challenges. In fact it is one of the hallmarks of a good leader. Having emotional intelligence can help you read the moods of others and sense tension where there is one and defuse it accordingly. In the workplace it will help you stand out from the others where leadership positions are concerned. Thus it is important that it is improved. This article aims to help with that.
Tips on how to improve your emotional intelligence
Here are ten tips to improve emotional intelligence:
a. Observe your emotions; This might seem obvious maybe a little cliché but take time to observe yourself and emotions. Take out time to note your behaviour. The first step to improving your emotional intelligence is to first understand yourself.
How do you react under certain emotions? What are the physiological changes that might accompany such emotions, for example some people might sweat when nervous and others clench their fist as a sign when they’re angry. You have to know yours to manage your emotions effectively. It is also becomes easier when you are conscious of how you react to some emotions.
b. Be open minded to the feelings of others; One of the hallmarks of emotional intelligence is empathy. Try to understand what others are feeling. Put yourself in their shoes. Try to look at an issue from a diffirent perspective. It helps to be accommodating. To reach decisions that is beneficial to all. In communication it helps you to be open minded. Life is rarely black and white, there are many greys in between. Listen to debates and discussions on television and online.
Question your beliefs and try to consider both sides in an argument. It helps you notice subtexts that you might have never noticed before. However this should be done in moderation. Being open minded does not mean you allow others step on you and your feelings. Be brave enough to call out such when it happens.
c. Be Responsible for your behaviour: A lot of people never take responsibility for their behaviour. There is a tendency to blame others for our own mistakes and flaws. But to improve your emotional intelligence you must learn to come to terms with your own behaviour and emotions. This is not about right or wrong, it is about accepting and coming to terms with your feelings and actions.
Though it is now an accepted fact that our environment plays a great deal in our behaviours in the end as humans it is our choice to act on our desires and emotions. Be honest with yourself and accept that your actions belong to you and you alone. You choose how you react to situations and to various people. Only when you accept that can you begin to improve on the aspect you believe needs improvement.
d. Think Positive: You are what you think, Your relationships, your health and a lot more are affected by what you think. Thinking negatively impacts your health negatively, in a team it demoralises your teammates, it makes a stressful situation even worse because it robs you of the ability to think rationally to find solutions.
This is not to say you should ignore the reality of the situation you are facing but when you attempt to be positive it frees your mind to the possibilities which are available. This is not something that happens overnight, it is a constant work in progress.
e. Be Assertive; These days most people confuse being assertive with toxicity, domineering and tyranny. However assertiveness is nothing like those. They might be similar but the methodology is what sets them apart. Being assertive simply means being upfront about your opinions, options and emotions.
When communicating you always make sure that you have made your stand clear i.e what you wish to gain, your opinion, your feelings e.t.c. This helps prevent confusion as your own point has been made clear. As a leader it also helps to keep your subordinates focused on their goals and to pass information across without ambiguities.
f. Avoid Stressors: Stressors are anything that put you in a state of tension or stress. Stress can impact us positively or negatively. Where it is the latter such stressors should be avoided e.g. if reading your e-mails before bedtime robs you of your asleep avoid opening your mails in the night.
If social media gets you riled up avoid it except where necessary. Stress cannot be totally terminated and sometimes even acts as fuel to some, however where it impacts your life negatively try to avoid it.
g. Manage negative Emotions; Negative emotion is simply part of the full package that is emotion. Negative emotions are a result of negative events that occur in our lifetime e.g. sadness, grief, anger. It is impossible for us as humans to avoid it. Therefore we must learn to manage it and ensure it does not impact us negatively.
Learn to detect when such emotions are cropping and find healthy ways to deal with it. Breathe in, take a walk, and find ways to distract yourself or channel that emotion into something constructive.
h. Motivation; Everyone has a motivation, something that drives and encourages them. Find yours, set your goals and work to achieve it. When you achieve your goals it give you self confidence and the courage to meet the challenge ahead and at the same time you serve as a motivation to other to try and follow their own dreams.
I. Rest; One of the major reasons people break down is because they do not give themselves enough time to rest. Rest reinvigorates your body and mind and puts you in your optimal state both mentally and physically. No matter how serious the issue is give yourself time to rest. Take it easy and give yourself a little break. You will find yourself better prepared to handle the challenges ahead
j. Confidence; Last but not least to continually improve your emotional intelligence cultivate your confidence. Generate a healthy dose of self esteem. When you act with confidence you inspire your teammates and increase their trust. Confidence should not be mistaken with arrogance. Confidence entails that you have done the best you could and therefore your look favourably on the outcome. Confidence reduces the possibility of mistakes.
In conclusion bear in mind that this is a lifelong process there is no point at which you have done it all. But as you continue to practice these tips the benefits will show.