We’ve all heard of our intelligence quotient (IQ), but what about our emotional quotient? Better known as emotional intelligence (EI), this refers to our ability to recognize and understand emotions, using them to guide the way we behave.
EI is an invaluable trait to cultivate because it makes you more aware of what you’re feeling and why, giving you the agency to make mindful decisions. When you have a better sense not only of your own emotions but also the emotions of others, you enhance your ability to create and sustain rich personal relationships.
Having strong emotional intelligence increases your chances of accomplishing your goals, says Inc. Just like your intelligence quotient (IQ) can be changed with increased brain activity, working out, and consistently getting a good night’s sleep, you can also actively improve your EI, according to Psychology Today.
Do you want to become more mindful by identifying your own emotions and reactions? Try these steps to boost your EI.
- Observe How You’re Feeling and How You Behave
Because most of us rush through our days, we can easily lose touch with our emotions and overlook the information stemming from them. Taking the time to notice how you feel will help you learn how to manage your emotions.
Observe how you react when you’re nervous, angry or frustrated: Do you lose the ability to focus? Do you shut down and have trouble communicating? Taking stock and consciously keeping track of how feelings affect you can help you acknowledge your behavior, recover your composure and move on from events that spark strong emotions.
- Have Empathy Toward Yourself and Others
Another way to sharpen your EI is to focus on feelings rather than events, which improves your ability to empathize, said Business Insider. When you look beyond what someone has done to understand why they acted the way they did, you can better communicate with them, making it easier to collaborate and problem solve. Try asking a colleague about their state of mind, for example, before criticizing their work.
- Reduce Negative Emotions to Keep Calm and Carry On
It’s important to manage negative emotions like frustration or fear of rejection. Otherwise, you may feel so overwhelmed that your judgment is impaired. Letting go of negative thoughts and feelings is one way to regain control of your emotions. The way you manage stress determines whether you’ll be proactive or reactive — calm or frazzled.
When something rattles you at work, take a moment’s pause before reacting. Try splashing a little cold water on your face or getting some fresh air. If you’re unable to take a quick break to relax at that very moment, consider spending your lunch hour exercising, as moving your body helps clear your mind.
When you feel calm, imagine what the other person in the situation might be feeling. It’s easy to assume things are intentional slights in the heat of the moment. But the underlying issue is more likely to revolve around conflicting communication styles or misunderstandings. Understanding the other person’s point of view can increase harmony and reduce the probability of problems in the future.
- Learn How to Recover
Facing adversity is never a pleasant task, but it’s how we react to life’s obstacles that matters most. When faced with a setback, allow yourself to acknowledge and process the situation. Consider what this experience has taught you or how you might better address a similar situation in the future. Gaining the right perspective makes all the difference in strengthening your EI.
Remember that when it comes to emotional intelligence, practice makes perfect. It takes time to master these strategies, so be patient and you’ll see benefits both at work and at home.