Defined as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others,” emotional intelligence (also known as EQ or EI) can wield major effects on your social connections, your family relationships, and even your career prospects. Those with higher levels of emotional intelligence often find themselves poised for advancement in the workplace ahead of those who lack them.
If you don’t have a natural talent for tapping into the emotions of others, don’t worry: it’s possible to take active steps to improve your emotional intelligence. Researchers have discovered methods to up your EQ, and these 3 tips provide you with an excellent starting point.
1. Focus on what you can control rather than on what you can’t.
A recent feature for Inc. references a theory devised by psychologist and TalentSmart president Dr. Travis Bradberry for instantly boosting your EQ. He suggests that “emotionally intelligent people don't let things outside of their control hijack their happiness. Instead, they choose to focus on the positive impact they can make now.”
Rather than stressing about the promotion you didn’t get or the performance review that didn’t go the way you hoped, Schneider advises using your energy to “focus on learning from and maximizing every moment, and happiness will follow.”
This emotionally-intelligent response to adversity prevents you from becoming derailed by the negative and keeps you in a positive, results-oriented mindset.
2. Shift your attention away from yourself and try to see things from other points of view.
Psychologists Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Michael Sanger wrote a Harvard Business Review article on emotional intelligence. They suggest that turning “self-focus into other-focus” can increase your ability to put your emotions in perspective and help you find effective ways of communicating with those around you. In a career context, making your colleagues and bosses feel heard leads to an increased sense of camaraderie and can put you in an advantageous position when performance-review time rolls around.
As Chamorro-Premuzic and Sanger put it: “Brief but frequent discussions with team members will lead to a more thorough understanding of how to motivate and influence others.”
3. When you’re feeling angry and frustrated, allow yourself to express those emotions (within reason, of course).
When arguments between coworkers result in rising tempers and inner annoyance, many people assume that the only way to handle these feelings involves suppressing them entirely. In reality, that tactic rarely leads to a successful resolution, and you run the risk of fostering resentments that can blow up in a far more dramatic fashion later on. Individuals with high emotional intelligence generally opt to address their frustrations head-on, but using language that doesn’t “come in hot” with aggressive accusations.
In Psychology Today, psychologist Preston Ni recommends approaching disagreements with coworkers using a series of “I” statements.
“One method to consider when needing to express difficult emotions is the XYZ technique - I feel X when you do Y in situation Z,” Ni advises. This verbiage helps you avoid a defensive reaction from the other party, which, in turn, helps them hear what you’re saying with a more open and receptive attitude.