This is by far the most important concept I’ve learned over the last few years. I always felt like my emotions were always out of control. One moment I was happy, the next moment I was pissed, the next morning I’d wake up depressed. I couldn’t understand why. This book radically shaped my understanding of the purpose of emotions and how we can use them to our benefit. Take the free quiz!
People with high emotional intelligence, aka emotional quotients, have strong relationships and are able to manage difficult situations calmly and effectively. They’re are most likely to be resilient in the face of adversity.
So, how emotionally intelligent am I?
Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence
Psychologist Daniel Goleman identified five elements that make up emotional intelligence. These are:
- Social skills.
Let’s look at how you can develop good skills in each area.
Goleman explained that people with high self-awareness are “aware of their moods as they are having them.”
To increase self-awareness, learn about mindfulness. This involves focusing on the present moment including how you’re feeling. And keep a journal in which you write about and analyze the emotional situations you experience from day to day.
You also need to understand your strengths and weaknesses to build self-awareness. Do a personal SWOT analysis, and ask for feedback from your boss, friends, and trusted colleagues to find out how you can improve further.
Self-regulation is about managing your emotions effectively. This takes skill.
If you often get angry, note what triggers this feeling, and think about why this happens. Use techniques such as deep breathing to calm yourself down, and give yourself time to pause before you respond to emails or requests so that you don’t say something that you’ll later regret.
You may also be affected by other negative feelings and emotions, such as anxiety and stress. So, do what you can to manage these feelings effectively.
Accountability is another important element of self-regulation. Always be sure to take responsibility for your actions and behaviors and make sure that these align with your values.
Self-motivation is strongly affected by your emotions. When you’re distracted by your emotions, you may find it hard to see tasks through.
Boost your motivation levels by developing self-discipline, and by looking for and celebrating small wins and simple jobs that, when you’ve completed them, give you a sense of achievement.
Also, set yourself longer-term goals. When you decide what you want to achieve, you’ll focus on what really matters to you. This can be highly motivating, especially when you connect personal goals with career-related ones.
If you’re still struggling to get motivated in your current role, take some time to rediscover your purpose.
Empathy is the ability to recognize other people’s emotions and understand their perspectives. Goleman calls this aspect of EI “the fundamental people skill.”
To develop empathy, start by simply thinking about other people’s viewpoints. Imagine how they may be feeling, and use active listening skills to understand them fully when they express their emotions to you.
Try not to interrupt or talk about your own feelings during the conversation. Look at their body language, too: it can tell you a lot about their emotions. If you watch and listen to others, you’ll quickly become attuned to how they feel.
Even if you’re not a natural “people person,” it is possible to develop better social skills. Find out how you can develop trust and rapport with people. This is an essential part of building good working relationships.
Don’t shy away from negative situations either. Learn how to deal with conflict and other difficult situations effectively.
If you’re uncomfortable with social situations, work on building self-confidence. Start slowly, but then look for opportunities to practice your skills with bigger groups. For example, you could offer to attend conferences on behalf of your team.
Developing high emotional intelligence (or EI) is incredibly important for a successful career. When we have high levels of emotional intelligence, we’re able to build strong working relationships and manage difficult situations more effectively.
Even if you already have many of the elements of emotional intelligence, it’s important to look for opportunities to build it further. This will increase your leadership potential, and improve the quality of your relationships.