Success Comes Easier to Those Practiced in Emotional Intelligence
High IQ is a much prized characteristic, but equally as important for personal success is one’s EQ, or emotional intelligence quotient. A high EQ means that you will be better able to not only understand your own and other’s emotions, but to then use that knowledge to improve your communication skills, lessen your stress levels, help to defuse conflicts, and make you an overall happier person.
Just as with IQ, while you’re born with a certain amount of EQ, it is possible to build upon it, cultivate it, and put it to work in your everyday life. With some introspection and by mastering a few key skills, you’ll be able to enhance your EQ to help you achieve your personal and professional goals.
When you have an extreme emotional reaction to something, stop. Pause for a moment and think about why it’s happening. Paying attention to your feelings will help you begin to understand what (or even who) is eliciting these responses from you. Each of us has our own vast personal history that informs how we’ll react to certain situations; work to discover yours.
Become socially aware
When wrapped up in a conversation with another, it’s human nature to listen, but only at about half capacity, and instead internally focus on what you’re going to say in response. Stop. In your social interactions with others, practice becoming fully aware of the person you’re speaking with. Notice their body language, behavior, and mood, and actively listen instead of running over your own internal dialog.
Create a logbook
Pick up a small composition book, or the like, and carry it with you; jot down throughout the day when certain emotions rise to the forefront and the situations that brought them on. At the beginning and end of each day, rate your emotional well-being on a scale of 1-10 and write it in your journal, as well.
Reflect back on your notes in the evening, and look for patterns. On days where you had significantly stressful events, with low emotional well-being scores, what was happening in your life? Identifying triggers and patterns will help you determine how you’ll react when these situations pop up again.
Learn your trigger events
There are certain events that will always bring about a large, negative emotional response from you. You may feel anger, hatred, fear, or a combination of all three. When these happen, take into consideration the situation you’re in that cause them to come to the surface. Look for patterns, and you’ll begin to see that certain situations or people are always the impetus.
Learn what motivates you
As you begin to tap into the feelings that arise for you throughout your daily life, pay special attention not only to those that bring up negative emotions, but positive ones, as well. Learning what motivates you, and what brings you happiness, will get you to a better understanding of what really drives you, and allow you to work on those areas and further develop them in your life.
Listen to your body
While you may not be aware that certain situations are eliciting an emotional response from you on a conscious level, your body can give you queues that something is bubbling beneath the surface. A knot in your stomach, the feeling of butterflies, tense shoulders, or sweaty palms; when these happen, your body is trying to tell you something. Listen and work on understanding what it is that could be causing these reactions.
Don’t interrupt unpleasant emotions
While no one wants to feel angry, upset, or uncomfortable for longer than they have to, negative emotions play a big role in helping to increase our EQ, if we let them in. Pause and sit with the unpleasant feeling, thinking about why the emotion came about, what the triggers were, why you reacted the way you did, and how you’d like to react in the future.
Once you’ve nailed down few triggers, practice your responses to them. While we can’t control what emotions will come up when placed in certain situations, we can always control how we react to them. When something negative happens, take a moment to sit with the feeling it causes, and avoid trying to push these feelings back down. Once the initial wave of emotion has passed over you, decide how you’ll behave. If you’ve been able to identify triggers, and think about how you’d like to see yourself react, you’ll be prepared for the next instance in your daily life.
Understand your effect on others
When engaging in social situations, pay attention to how others react to you. Are they nervous, cheerful, angry? By taking stock of people’s reactions, you can better understand what you emotional impact is on others, and learn ways to improve your presence so that you get the responses you’re looking for.
The impacts of a cheerful, sunny outlook on life can equate to better emotional well-being in the long run, and allow you, and others, to feel safer and happier. People with high EQs tend to be optimists who can see the silver lining and use laughter to diffuse uncomfortable situations. As you learn your triggers and think about how you’d like to react, keep the things you’re telling yourself positive. Though many think you’re born with either a pessimistic or optimistic personality, you can cultivate optimism through practicing positive reactions and thoughts.
Want to improve your EQ in your professional life? Check out Working With Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman; a great read and highly recommended.