Emotional intelligence fuels your performance both in the workplace and in your personal life, but it starts with you. From your confidence, empathy and optimism to your social skills and self-control, understanding and managing your own emotions can accelerate success in all areas of your life.
No matter what professional field you are in, whether you manage a team of two or 20, or even just yourself, realising how effective you are at controlling your own emotional energy is a great starting point. Absent from the curriculum, emotional intelligence isn’t something we are taught or tested on, so where did it come from, what is it, do you have it and is it really that important?
Fortunately, it is something you can learn and we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of tips to help you explore your own level of emotional intelligence and gain important emotional intelligence skills that can be implemented into everyday life.
Put simply, emotional Intelligence is how well individuals identify and manage their own emotions and react to the emotions of others. It’s understanding how those emotions shape your thoughts and actions so you can have greater control over your behaviour and develop the skills to manage yourself more effectively. Becoming more emotionally conscious allows us to grow and gain a deeper understanding of who we are, enabling us to communicate better with others and build stronger relationships.
We suggest starting with these initial 8 tips, they provide a good starting point to discovering the foundations of your emotional intelligence.
#1) Practice observing how you feel
Often we lead hectic, busy lifestyles and it’s all too easy for us to lose touch with our emotions. To reconnect, try setting a timer for various points during the day. When the timer goes off, take a few deep breaths and notice how you’re feeling emotionally. Pay attention to where that emotion is showing up as a physical feeling in your body and what the sensation feels like. The more you practice, the more it will become second nature.
#2) Pay attention to how you behave
While you’re practising your emotional awareness, take the time to notice your behaviour too. Observe how you act when you’re experiencing certain emotions, and how that affects your day-to-day life. Managing our emotions becomes easier once we become more conscious of how we react to them.
#3) Question your own opinions
In this hyper-connected world, it is easy to fall into an ‘opinion bubble’. This is a state of existence where your own opinions are constantly re-enforced by people with similar viewpoints. Take time to read the other side of the story and have your views challenged (even if you still feel they are right). This will help you understand other people and be more receptive to new ideas.
#4) Take responsibility for your feelings
Your emotions and behaviour come from you, they don’t come from anyone else and once you start accepting responsibility for how you feel and how you behave it will have a positive impact on all areas of your life.
#5) Take time to celebrate the positive
A key part emotional intelligence is celebrating and reflecting on the positive moments in life. People who experience positive emotions are generally more resilient and more likely to have fulfilling relationships, which will help them move past adversity.
#6) But don’t ignore the negative
Reflecting on negative feelings is just as important as reflecting on the positive. Understanding why you feel negative is key to becoming a fully-rounded individual, who is more able to deal with negative issues in the future.
#7) Don’t forget to breathe
Life throws various situations our way, with most of us experiencing some sort of stress on a regular basis. To manage your emotions when this happens and to avoid outbursts, don’t forget to breathe. Call a time out and go put some cold water on your face, go outside and get some fresh air or make a drink – anything to keep your cool and give yourself a chance to get a hold on what’s happening and how you should respond.
#8) A lifetime process
Understand and remember that emotional intelligence is something you develop and requires continual improvement; it’s very much a lifetime practice.
A key component of emotional intelligence, self-awareness is the ability to recognise and understand your own character, moods and emotions and their effect on others. It includes a realistic self-assessment of what you’re capable of – your strengths and weaknesses – and knowing how others perceive you. It can help highlight areas for self-improvement, make you better at adapting and can limit wrongful decisions.
Sometimes emotional outbreaks occur because we don’t take the time out to slow down and process how we’re feeling. Give yourself a break and make a conscious effort to meditate, do yoga or read – a little escapism works wonders. And then the next time you have an emotional reaction to something, try to pause before you react.