In our last post about Emotional Intelligence (EI), we covered what it is, how to recognize it in the people around you, and a few real-life examples of EI in action. Now that we have the basics down, how can we work to develop or strengthen our own EI for more personal and professional success?
Tips to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence
Practice thinking before reacting. When you give yourself some time to process a situation, you give yourself an opportunity to react in a way that you won’t later regret. Who among us hasn’t almost fired off an ill-advised email out of frustration or snapped at someone who didn’t deserve it because we were already feeling stressed? I’ve certainly made both mistakes, and to this day, I wish I could take them back.
Grab coffee, go for a walk, sleep on it if time allows. The situation is almost never as bad as an impulsive reaction can make you and others feel.
Consider how you would feel. It’s our old pal empathy again, reminding us to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. This is way easier said than done, so it helps to be honest with yourself and revisit situations when you were the one who could benefit from a little empathy. Maybe you have an angry customer on the line. Before writing them off as unreasonable or beyond help, remember the time your cable cut out during the series finale of your favorite program or your Internet connection went down when you were up against a tight deadline.
Were you possibly acting a bit – dare I say – unreasonable?
When we take a moment to understand and relate to other people’s feelings, we often find it easier to come to a mutually agreeable solution.
Note, this is not meant to excuse abusive or volatile behavior. There’s a big difference between a tense situation that elicits an emotional response and a person who routinely lashes out at others – and nobody has the right to do that.
Spend time with people who make you feel good, and ask for their input. There’s a reason that strong interpersonal relationships benefit health, success and overall mood – check out this article from the Mayo Clinic outlining the benefits of friendship as well as some tips for making and keeping true buddies. When you feel good, you perform better, and some people are just plain good at making others feel good.
What’s more, people who have this effect on you are likely to have high EI. So, you can learn from them on your ever-evolving EI journey.
Take care of your health. It’s hard to be the best version of yourself when you’re sick, or overtired, or just feeling kind of “off.” Nothing I read while researching the subject of EI specifically said that more sleep or a better diet is a fast-track for improvement. But, as someone who is prone to getting “hangry” and also needs at least seven nightly hours of uninterrupted rest to feel like a human, I’m taking a liberty and throwing it in here.
For more tips on developing EI, here are several other takes on the topic: