Emotional intelligence is a vital trait in all aspects of life, but many take it for granted. Yet it is ranked as one of the top 10 sought-after skills at work by the World Economic Forum.
So, what exactly is it? Do you have it, and how do you get more of it?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise, control and understand your emotions and the emotions of those around you. This ability is commonly divided into four main components: self-management, self-awareness, social awareness and relationship management.
8 Tips to improve your emotional intelligence
- Identify & eliminate stress
- Use all your senses to reduce your stress levels
- Slow down & get in touch with your feelings
- Share any difficult emotions with trusted people
- Practise active listening
- Get creative with social engagement
- Don't mask your emotions
- Seek a win-win outcome from any conflict
Improving your emotional intelligence plays an important role in the business environment. It helps employees better manage conflict and stress in the workplace. Overall, the self-awareness component of emotional intelligence aids in employee communication, decision-making and problem-solving.
1. Identify & eliminate stress
If you're stressed, it's harder to read a situation accurately and respond to emotional cues in your team. Identifying that you are stressed is the first step to improving your emotional intelligence.
Once you have identified the cause of stress, you can target its cause. Then you can start working on removing the stress by dealing with the root cause.
2. Use all your senses to reduce your stress levels
- Sight - for instance, by looking at an uplifting view, a piece of artwork or a treasured photograph
- Sounds - such as listening to music or natural sounds from nature (birdsong or the sea)
- Smell - for example, using scented candles or strong citrus smells to reinvigorate you
- Touch - like, a stress ball, stroking a pet, and so on
- Taste - such as chewing gum, getting a coffee, eating crunchy snacks, and so on
- Movement - for instance, using mindfulness meditation or exercise
3. Slow down & get in touch with your feelings
Rate your feelings every day and pinpoint the underlying reasons behind any extreme emotions. This activity will increase your self-awareness. Try to understand why you feel the way you do and evaluate whether your emotional response is appropriate.
Once you have reached this point, decide how you can work with your emotions to trigger a positive outcome. This level of emotional understanding will help you keep your emotions in check to avoid negatively impacting your colleagues.
4. Share any difficult emotions with trusted people
Stress can build up if you don't take the time to process difficult emotions. Know when to talk through this with people you trust. Processing your emotions is good for your mental well-being, and using people as a soundboard can help you identify your triggers. Once you are mindful of them, you can avoid them.
5. Practise active listening
Stay focused, listen carefully, and maintain eye contact to improve your communication skills; learn to interpret others' body language accurately. Paying attention will go a long way in helping to develop your professional relationships.
6. Get creative with social engagement
Use humour and play to make a genuine connection with others. Engaging with others involves being perceptive and identifying what individuals respond positively to. It is very important to be socially active as any business consists of a chain of networks. Use your discretion to identify what works well in engaging in human interactions.
7. Don't mask your emotions
If you conceal your emotions from others, you won't be seen as 'authentic', and others may perceive you as 'aloof'. Remember to be honest with your feelings and not bottle up your emotions. It is unnecessary to divulge your feeling to everyone, but it is important to seek people you trust to talk through difficult emotions.
8. Seek a win-win outcome from any conflict
Show a mature approach to conflict by avoiding blame, punishment and revenge and agreeing to disagree. Knowing when to walk away is an important skill. This indicates self-regulation - pausing before responding will allow you to provide a thoughtful response instead of making a rash decision.
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