Develop Your Emotional Intelligence with These 5 Easy Steps
What would you rather have; book smarts or street smarts? Given the choice of the two the majority of people will tend towards street smarts. The reason is obvious; in day-to-day life, knowing how to deal with people is far more useful than being able to spout a detailed chronology of the Crimean War.
Even in the professional sphere, where technical skills are at a premium, the career of a genius is so often stymied for no other reason than their lack of personability. EI (Emotional Intelligence), it seems, is far more valuable than IQ. Emotional intelligence represents your ability to perceive your own emotions as well as the emotions of others, and manage both in the most productive way possible.
Thankfully, emotional intelligence can be worked on. Here are 5 practical ways to do so.
1) Learn to Read Yourself
The process of developing your emotional intelligence begins with introspection. If you yourself are unsure of how your own emotions work, what chance do others have of appropriately handling them?
Learn to read yourself via the following means:
Listen to your body: Your physical state provides real insights into your emotional one. A knot it the stomach, butterflies, tensed muscles; learn how your physical reactions tie in with your emotional ones.
Get quantifiable: At the end of each day, rate your overall emotional wellbeing on a scale of 0 to 100. Note down the feelings that contributed to this score, and some possible underlying causes.
Identify triggers: Over time the notes will begin to display patterns. Perhaps your relationship is causing strain, or an aspect of your job has you overwhelmed. Identifying your emotional triggers is the first step to mitigating them.
2) Express Yourself
All too often it’s the quiet kid in class that eventually snaps. The ability to properly express yourself is like a mental release valve; any emotional baggage is taken off your shoulders and put on the table. It’s also a far less lonely way to live your life. People are always eager to help, if only they knew you needed it.
3) Respond, Don’t React
You do need to be aware of others when you express yourself, however. It’s important to be open to a different point of view. We have a natural urge to change the subject or ignore a person who puts a view forward that is uncomfortable, or different from our own. Be sure to avoid interrupting or changing the subject and instead hear them out, think about what they said, and then respond in a measured way.
There are subtle differences between reacting and responding. A reaction is involuntary – an instinctive way to deal with a situation. A response is more deliberate, calm and considered. Give yourself time to respond, and resist the urge to react.
4) Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
A fun quirk of psychology is that 80% of people think that they are above average drivers when only 50% of them could ever be. This is called illusory superiority, and demonstrates that we humans are inherently bad at assessing our own strengths and weaknesses.
But getting a handle on your personal strengths and weaknesses can have a huge impact on your emotional health and intelligence. By focussing on things you’re good at in your work or personal life, and avoiding weaknesses that may cause stress and anger, you’re setting yourself up for a far happier life. That physical reaction – gut feel – is often as good a measure as any on whether you’re strong or weak in a certain area.
5) Take Ownership of Your Feelings
We’ve saved perhaps the most difficult step until last. Your emotions come from you. While certain triggers may send you down the path to certain emotions, the choice to allow those emotions to take hold is yours. There’s no point in blaming these feelings on your partner, the driver who cut you off, or the unhelpful customer service representative. These people aren’t in control of your response. You are.
Once you fully accept responsibility for the way you behave, the control that you’ll feel will be incredible. By taking the emotional reins you can steer your EI chariot down the path of happiness, fulfilment and success.
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