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How to Improve Emotional Intelligence

Some Advice to Teach You How to Improve Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is smartness in dealing with one's complex moods, feelings and emotions. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence (EI) live a stress-free life, make able leaders and are good in maintaining relationships.
MissionSelf Staff
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2018
We all are emotional beings, our thinking shaped by the good and bad experiences we encounter in our lives. With time, some of us become extremely emotional, while some become tough nuts, and some fail to reciprocate the feelings of others. Emotionally weak individuals find it tough to manage their thoughts, they have difficulty in taking negative feedback, and also tend to get upset at the slightest provocation. Now, have you noticed, some people are smarter in handling relationships, or say a complex situation, than others? They are not deeply emotional, but are considerate while dealing with people. Such people know what to speak, when to speak, when to keep quiet and be patient. They have a gut feeling and at any given moment they do, for them and others, what they think is right. Such people have a good emotional quotient (EQ), (a measure of emotional intelligence, just as IQ measures intelligence) the importance of which is growing with each passing day, surpassing even the highly valued intelligence quotient (IQ). So what does it actually mean, when we say a person is emotionally intelligent? And how can you become more intelligent, in emotional matters?

What is Emotional Intelligence

Many theories have been proposed by psychologists to describe the term, marring it in controversy. I don't wish to make the whole thing complex for you. Explaining it in simplest terms, emotional intelligence is having a superior ability to handle emotions of oneself and others; it is the ability to use the emotions constructively and positively. Emotionally intelligent beings tend to be more successful in life, generally have leadership traits and they lead a stress-free life. It is for this reason, during job recruitment, candidates with higher EQ scores are preferred over those with a low score.

Since the early 1900s researchers have recognized the importance of behavioral or non-cognitive factors in determining the success of an individual. Even Darwin's work emphasizes the significance of emotional expression for survival. Later, many models and theories were proposed to define the concept, although there is still some disagreement on the exact definition of the term. There is no concrete evidence on who coined the term "emotional intelligence". To understand the concept a bit better, let's look at Daniel Goleman's model that defines emotional intelligence through 5 attributes or traits.

Constructs in Daniel Goleman's Model:

Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist, defined five traits that explain the concept of emotional intelligence. His book "Emotional Intelligence" made the concept hugely popular in social and academic circles. According to Goleman, each person has an innate emotional intelligence, but it can also be developed substantially with time and practice.

1. Self-awareness: This refers to the ability of a person to grasp his/her emotions and use them to make decisions based on gut feeling.
2. Self-management: Self-management is the ability to possess control over your emotions in tough circumstances.
3. Social awareness: This is the ability of a person to adapt to change and perceive emotions of others.
4. Relationship management: It is the ability of a person to motivate and influence others and help them to manage conflict.

Tips to Improve Emotional Intelligence

It is not easy to develop EI, even if it may sound so. It demands patience, consistent effort, ability to recognize non-verbal signs.

Learn to Manage Stress
Stress is a prime factor that influences our emotional triggers. We should learn to react to stress positively and benefit from it. Some people get depressed under stress and this affects their life considerably. Stress is the root cause for negative thoughts like anxiety, insecurity, fear, etc. You can counter stress by engaging yourself in activities that you love; this will keep your thoughts busy. Each of us reacts differently to stress and the way to counter it is also different for each of us. Engage yourself in activities that you love doing, spend time with friends, and enjoy life. Learning to manage stress will help you to control your emotional triggers and also help in leading a peaceful life. You can also use humor to kill stress, humor has an indirect and big impact on us. How? It is well-known that humor is a stress-buster and helps in keeping negative energies at bay. A hint of humor in communication will help you to manage personal relationships in a better way. Humor also relieves the body and energizes us. Thus you can use humor to enhance your emotional quotient - it will keep you positive, energized and happy, which indirectly has an impact on your behavior and mindset.

Communicate Verbally and Non-verbally
Emotional intelligence is also about understanding the emotional response of people around you. You can learn to decipher the response of others by trying to understand their non-verbal signs. People who have high EQ tend to capture what others feel just by interpreting non-verbal signs correctly. Our non-verbal actions also convey a lot about how much we care, or how attentively we listen. Also. understand others by observing their body language, eye contact, posture and gestures, the tone of their voice, etc. Conversing with others, learning more about them, and showing empathy towards their thoughts will help you in developing good emotional intelligence.

Connect with Yourself
To improve your emotional quotient, try to honestly identify your shortcomings. It requires self-evaluation to identify the areas in which you lack. You might be self-centered and that is affecting your personal relationships. You can work on it by being more flexible in your approach while dealing with people. Also, identify if you get angry very soon and cannot deal with your expression of anger. Do you tend to get impatient and anxious in tough times? Do you think too much before reacting to any situation? Do you find it difficult to accept responsibility? Learn to work on your weaknesses through focus and meditation, and try to be more considerate.

Keep a Positive Frame of Mind
The ability to think positively during difficult times is something we all should learn to inculcate in ourselves. It is important for you to be an optimistic, because it will help in coping with a tough situation in a far better way. Having high emotional intelligence also means being positive in the time of crisis. People always like to be associated with someone who is an optimist and seek his/her help while dealing with any situation. The ability to see "opportunity for improvement" during any negative situation will help you become an optimist.

Be Open-minded
It is said that narrow-mindedness is a sign of low emotional quotient. People who are emotionally intelligent are open-minded and have the enthusiasm to try out new things, take risks. They are always welcome to criticism and handle it positively. To become emotionally intelligent, practice the art of being patient and empathetic. You should be focused more on your goal and self-development, rather than advising others, or pointing out their mistakes. On the other hand you should not stay aloof from others, rather be considerate towards them. Whenever someone criticizes you, do not let it affect your confidence and performance, instead accept it as a challenge and conquer it with positive thinking.

Resolve Conflict Positively
Conflicts are part and parcel of life, and you cannot avoid them. How do you react when you have a disagreement with someone? Do you get angry, or do you take it in your stride positively? You should have control over your emotions and not let them not affect your work or relationships. Learn to accept your mistakes and the value of apologizing. Assertiveness is also a factor that comes into play here, being assertive will help you in expressing your thoughts in a succinct way. A person with high emotional intelligence holds no grudges, learns to forgive, is always creative and willing to view life positively.

To develop a considerate and friendly attitude, put yourself in the other person's shoes. Think before you react, and develop humility and forgiveness. You cannot develop emotional intelligence all of a sudden, or by just reading self-help guides. It comes with practice and positive thinking.
Diagram of emotional intelligence
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