4 Ways To Improve Your Emotional Intelligence
Work. How does that word make you feel? Motivated? Challenged? Excited? Stressed? Depressed? Angry? Happy? The world of work is an emotional maelstrom. Recognising your feelings is the starting point to managing your responses and using them in a way that serves you best. And that, in a nutshell, is what Emotional Intelligence (EI), is.
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Strengthening our EI means developing awareness of our feelings, which helps us manage how other people see us. It can also help keep our sensitivity in check – for example, if your knee-jerk reaction to negative feedback is to be argumentative or aggressive, that’s only going to be counterproductive. EI equips us calmly to accept and learn from critical feedback.
As we work on our own EI, we will also steadily become more aware of the emotions, needs and strengths of other people, allowing us to treat them with more respect and kindness, which will in turn build bonds and understanding within our teams.
Sounds like good common sense doesn’t it? But as with many things, it takes a bit of work to make it appear easy. Here are 4 suggested skills to set you on your way to building stronger EI and a happier, emotionally healthier workplace and personal life.
EI and self-awareness are closely linked. Limited self-awareness means we’re not in tune with other people’s perceptions of us which can cause all sorts of friction. By using your EI to question the way you respond to challenges, you can reflect upon things you might want to change and improve upon. How useful would that be, come appraisal time?
Keeping a journal of thought patterns and incidents that trigger strong emotions, can be extremely helpful. If you notice you always respond negatively to something, note it down and consider how you could respond better next time. When the situation recurs, consciously modify the way you deal with it. This will help manage stress, reduce conflict and improve the way others see you.
Grow your empathy
As you work on your own emotional responses, you’ll start to become more aware of the emotions of others, and it will become increasingly difficult to display indifference to their concerns. By offering help, even if it’s just ‘a shoulder to cry on’, you will begin to understand more about the emotions of other people, and your empathy will grow.
Practice active listening
This is a way of managing emotions during difficult conversations. Here are some tips:
- Pay full attention. Nodding, smiling and keeping your posture open will create a sense of security and openness in your conversation partner. Interruptions create anxiety, so wait your turn to speak. Talking over someone implies you’re only interested in your own perspective. Keep body language positive and give the other person ample space to express themselves.
- Focus, and take an active role in the conversation. Repeating back the main points of what’s been said can help avoid mind-wander and reinforce your understanding. Ask questions for clarification.
- When it’s your turn to speak, be relaxed and respectful, show compassion and be honest. Avoid direct criticisms and always use positive language, even if you have negative points to communicate.
Take control of how you feel
Life is unpredictable, and we cannot control every detail of our lives. That doesn’t mean blaming external factors for our misfortunes. The way we respond to situations is entirely up to us, and this is where EI can be hugely useful. Try naming emotions as you feel them. It’ll allow you to develop firmer control of your feelings, and hence more positive and powerful actions.
- Why Your Emotions are Like a Glitter Jar —Paul talks about the importance of 'thought awareness' in this blog and how to manage negative emotions.
- How to Maintain Resilience in a Time of Crisis — Billy outlines some ways you can remain strong and resilient during tough times.
- 4 Tips to Help You Understand and Build Your Self-Confidence — In this blog Billy explains the meaning of self-confidence and how you can build and nurture it in yourself.
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Claire is Head of Marketing at Happy. She has worked at Happy since 2016, and is responsible for Happy's marketing strategy, website, social media and more. Claire first heard about Happy in 2012 when she attended a mix of IT and personal development courses. These courses were life-changing and she has been a fan of Happy ever since. She has a personal blog at lecari.co.uk.
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