How do I gain Emotional Intelligence


How Do I Build Emotional Intelligence?

In nearly every area of life, we have to interact with other people. It could be ordering from a barista at a local coffee shop, facilitating a meeting with our co-workers, or spending time with family at home. Most of us spend more time around other people than we do by ourselves, making interaction a significant part of our everyday lives. If we lack emotional intelligence, or emotional awareness, those regular interactions can have a higher chance of going wrong. Even for the loners among us who avoid public interaction at all costs, those few interactions we do have can still impact our lives significantly. That means building on our emotional intelligence is not only useful, but an essential pursuit.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

The general consensus is that someone with emotional intelligence has an astute awareness of themselves and others. It could be further dissected into three stage od awareness:

  1. I can recognize and interpret the emotions of myself and others
  2. I can manage the reactions that stem from my emotions
  3. I understand the causes of the initial emotions I have

The real test of Emotional Intelligence is whether we are able to manage, if not control, the underlying beliefs that trigger our particular emotions.

Our emotional intelligence or emotional quotient, is a quality or skill that can give us a boost when communicating with the people around us. A skill…in that it can be taught and learnt.

Having emotional intelligence means listening before giving input, reacting calmly to conflict instead of flying into a rage, and being attuned to the emotions of those around us. For instance, if a friend has just lost a parent, we should recognize that it’s likely not the best time to talk about the big anniversary celebration we have just planned for our own parents.

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?

Having or lacking emotional intelligence can make the difference between getting a new job or losing out on one. It can make the difference between staying married or filing for divorce. It can affect our relationships with our co-workers, our bosses, our children, and can even cause us to have unfortunate misunderstandings with people we barely know. Emotional intelligence makes interaction easier. As we build on this quality, we won’t face the frustration of leaving a situation, dwelling on something insensitive we said, because we didn’t analyse the mood of the setting.

Ways to Improve our Emotional Intelligence Skills

Practice listening. During conversations, we are often so eager to speak that we can speak above other people. When we have things to say, especially in the heat of an argument, we’re prone to jumping in and saying our piece, without letting the other person finish. We need to practice taking in everything a person says to us before responding. This equates to less opportunity for misunderstandings and it will provide us time to review our current emotion… and its cause. We need to listen.

“Wisdom is the reward we get for a lifetime of listening when we’d have preferred to talk.”… Doug Larson

Practice Self-Regulation

Practice the pause. Emotions are intense, and are difficult to control, which is why we all could use some practice self-regulating. If our first reaction to a perceived insult is to immediately return a hurtful barb, we need to practice dialling back that reaction. Instead of rapidly scanning our brains for the perfect insult, we could be quickly assessing our reaction and perhaps we could be asking the person what they meant by their comment. There is a good chance that we simply misunderstood them… therefore avoiding the inevitable conflict.

“If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self.”… Napoleon Hill

Practice Spatial Awareness

Practice reading the room. Since we all share a society, it’s a good idea for us to pay attention to the people around us. In the same way we are often flooded with different emotions, other people are as well. We could all benefit from some compassion. Try to read the social cues in your environment. If someone appears to be more withdrawn than normal one day, try asking how their life is going. If they want to talk, they will let their feelings out… but don’t be a “close talker”. Give them their personal space. Conversely, if someone seems to have a lot more energy, the same question can lead to a positive conversation about their recent accomplishments.

“Sense of place is the sixth sense, an internal compass and map made by memory and spatial perception together.”… Rebecca Solnit

Strategies for Using Emotional Intelligence

Building our emotional intelligence skills is hard work and can feel difficult while we’re just starting out. However, thankfully, emotional intelligence is not a fixed quality. It is something we can always improve upon with a few helpful strategies. For those of us prone to interrupting, we can write down memos in our phones that remind us to listen more. For those of us prone to over- reacting, we can practice calming techniques like deep breathing, counting to ten, and asking for space to think, before we address conflicts. Simple people-watching while out and about, can give us a different perspective on the lives of others. Like anything, it can take some practice, but as long as we work at it diligently, we are continually developing our life skills and improving our own lives and the lives of those around us!

“There is an old-fashioned word for the body of skills that emotional intelligence represents: character.”… Daniel Goleman

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