How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Most of us are familiar with intellectual intelligence markers as expressed by the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) measurement. But with greater frequency, universities, corporations and individuals evaluate emotional intelligence (EQ) as a predictor of work performance, socialization, relationship stability and even physical and mental health. Let’s take a look at how and why we should all do the work to develop a superior EQ.

What Is Emotional Intelligence

We use EQ every day in most social situations without even realizing it. But recently, it’s becoming recognized as a critical skill we need to develop to succeed in most aspects of life and people like potential employers are taking note. So what is it?

The following five characteristics comprise emotional intelligence:

  • Social skills: People with strong social skills can usually talk with others in both friendly and hostile situations. These skills allow us to coordinate with others, manage disputes, communicate and work on team-building.
  • Empathy: Understanding and internalizing others’ feelings allows us a different perspective and may keep us from passing judgment too abruptly. Highly empathetic people are also excellent at reading others’ emotions even when there are few tells.
  • Self-awareness: It might be impossible to develop a high degree of emotional intelligence without being self-aware of our emotions. When we’re in touch with how we feel, we are more likely to control how or if we react. Being self-aware also allows us to evaluate ourselves honestly and accept criticism so that we can improve.
  • Self-control: To develop EQ, we must also gain self-control. As we acknowledge our feelings, we may also need to moderate how we react to them. In some cases, we may need to learn or use calming or de-stressing techniques, or we might need to employ anger management. 
  • Motivation: Those with more developed EQs tend to be more tenacious. They understand obstacles and challenges exist and are not personal, and many enjoy the sense of accomplishment they feel in overcoming roadblocks. Developing a greater sense of motivation might help us increase our EQ.

These skills, taken together, help define an individual’s EQ. As with IQ, our ability in each area can be tested. And if we are aware of our current areas of strength and weakness, we can evaluate and improve our skills.

Why Should We Develop EQ?

Intellect may affect our earning capacity and our ability to solve logical problems, but emotional intelligence can affect our quality of life and relationships. Our EQ may affect how we perform at work or school or even in the community.  

Our personal and community relationships pivot on our levels of emotional intelligence. Most of us would like to deepen our relationships with others. Increasing our EQs might be one way to achieve that.

And while it’s not surprising that our mental health might be closely tied to EQ, most are surprised to learn that EQ impacts our physical health in ways we may not expect. For example, EQ helps us control stress. Uncontrolled stress may lead to blood pressure, heart issues, eating disorders, ulcers, infertility and premature aging.

Steps to Improve and Grow Our EQ

There are several tools we can use to improve our EQ. These tools may help us become more self-aware or better able to self-control. Some may even help us manage social situations.

Try the following:

  • Journal: A journal or diary might be a useful way to better connect with our feelings. When we write about situations, we may also be able to explore our feelings more fully.
  • Meditate: The art of slowing down is an important one. Once we focus on how we feel, we can focus on potential responses in a careful and controlled way. More than that, though, meditation allows us to modify perception and outlook and therefore our presentations to the world. We can choose to be more positive, more open and more approachable through this one step.
  • Self-evaluation: Each of us must assess ourselves periodically to figure out where we need to adjust and grow. Growth is an on-going process, of course, and self-evaluation (and critique) allow us to change how we react by first understanding why we feel the way we do.
  • Communication: Through practice, we can learn to express thoughts directly, clearly and respectfully, and practice active listening to engage with others. 
  • Empathy: It may sound obvious, but putting ourselves into another person’s emotional or tactical position and seeing things from their perspective is an important emotional skillset. Over time, this skill will also promote the growth of EQ. In fact, one cannot actively practice empathy without enhancing EQ because they are so closely tied. (Protip: many sources say that extensive reading is one of the best ways to grow empathy.)

Emotional intelligence can influence the quality of our lives in so many ways. The more skilled we are in this area, the better we will find our relationships and so much of life is driven by relationships, isn't it? We have tools at our disposal to improve our EQs and therefore our relationships, work environments, health, and communities. And it seems like anymore more places are looking to this measurement to draw conclusions about us. So it's probably a good idea to get ahold of our standing and do some work to raise that score.

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5/12/2021 7:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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I am the most empathetic person I know. This has not helped me find the right partner because I tend to give too much credit to someone because I also see their potential. I am far from perfect. I am just overly empathetic. Empathy needs to be tempered with objectivity as well...I am lacking in that area. I tend to attract self serving men that take me for granted. Therefore finding the right life partner has been exceptionally difficult.
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Interesting! Also overwhelming... Another goal to work toward...
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