How To Have Good Emotional Intelligence

Over the past few years, emotional intelligence (“EI”) has become one of the most popular workplace qualities in America. It is considered an important leadership skill that can help you climb the ladder at work, increase your personal success, and improve relationships with people around you.

But what does “emotional intelligence” actually mean?

Most simply defined, it refers to how well you manage your emotions — whether they are positive or negative. People who have high EI also tend to be more conscious of other people’s feelings and try to understand why someone might feel a certain way.

However, there are several theories about what makes up the core of emotional intelligence. These include concepts like empathy, self-awareness, motivation, and ability to control oneself.

No matter which theory you believe in, though, all agree that enhancing your emotional intelligence is something anyone can do. You don’t need to be born with strong social skillsor experience many argumentsto learn some things about managing your own emotions.

In this article, we will discuss five ways to develop your emotional intelligence. Some of these strategies will apply directly to your job, while others will enhance your overall quality of life.

Editor's note: This article was updated for accuracy and clarity on March 15, 2020.

Reader discretion advised.

Take a look at our list below and see if you can find any applications for yourself.

Have patience

how to have good emotional intelligence

When someone does something that makes you feel bad, take a moment to breathe and evaluate whether this is really worth your energy. If you have nothing else to do, then go somewhere private and try to relax for a few minutes.

You may be too focused on how things should be that you forget what is happening in people’s lives at this time. It could be because they just had a big argument with their partner or friend, or because they got fired from work.

Everyone deals with stress differently, so it is important to learn how to manage your own emotions as well as other people’s. Try thinking about ways to reduce your stress levels and see if that helps.

Also, remember that not everyone will always make you feel happy and secure, but you don’t need them to be that way all the time either.

As hard as that can be, focus more on being positive than negative and your emotional intelligence will improve.

Make eye contact

Making direct eye contact with someone is one of the most powerful ways to establish rapport, connect with them, and develop strong relationships. When you look people in the eyes, you show respect for them and their position, while also showing some degree of interest in what they have to say.

It’s your basic human connection.

Making direct eye contact isn’t always easy, though. It takes practice, so start small and work up from there.

Make an effort to make at least 5-10 quick glances per person every few minutes during a conversation. (More if the conversation seems longer or more intimate.)

Avoid looking away unless it’s something necessary like taking a phone call or talking behind someone. If needed, hold his gaze just a little longer than usual until he does.

Your subconscious will take over and keep the eye contact going even when your conscious mind has forgotten about it. Plus, research shows that making eye contact actually boosts our self-confidence.

Be realistic

how to have good emotional intelligence

A lot of people tend to put more effort into not being emotional than they do being able to be emotionally present. They try to avoid feeling emotions by never experiencing them, or by suppressing them as much as possible. This is very unhealthy in the long run though because you will eventually feel all those feelings and then it’s hard to get back onto an even keel.

By practicing mindfulness (paying attention to what you are doing at this moment) and self-awareness (recognizing your own tendencies and behaviors), you can develop some skills for managing your emotions.

You can also be aware of how others are responding to things so that you can adjust your behavior or tone to match theirs.

Share your experiences

how to have good emotional intelligence

One of the biggest reasons why people get hurt or upset more often than not is because they are keeping secrets from others.

We’re living in an increasingly connected world, so if there’s something you’re struggling with then let someone know – even if it’s just one person.

By being honest about what you’re going through, you may help yourself feel better, and hopefully help inspire or at least be inspired by how other people cope with similar challenges.

It could also give you some insight into what might work for them. On the other hand, if nothing seems to make a difference then you’ll probably realize that you need to try somewhere else.

Your friends will admire you for being open and upfront, while at the same time sympathizing with their struggles.

Give and take; sharing and giving up parts of you – that’s what relationships are built upon.

Be honest with your peers

how to have good emotional intelligence

It’s easy for people to get distracted by what they want out of someone else, but when it comes down to it, we all have our own needs. What kind of friend you are depends on what kind of person you believe yourself to be.

If you don’t like somebody, you won’t try to put them up or pull them in, because you don’t think you can succeed. You’ll keep quiet if you need help from them, and they’ll feel left out and rejected.

That doesn’t make anyone happy! And it definitely isn’t good for your emotional intelligence.

Listen to others closely

how to have good emotional intelligence

It is important to be aware of how other people feel, and understand what makes them happy or sad. This can help you determine their emotional state, as well as what may make them happier or more relaxed in the future.

If you notice that someone looks stressed out, try to find out why they are feeling this way. Is it because of work? Money issues? Relationship problems?

By understanding the source of their stress, you can do something about it! You could talk to them, suggest solutions, or even call or text an acquaintance to see if anyone knows who they can confide in.

Alternatively, you could look for opportunities to lower their stress level – for example, by suggesting they take a break or have some fun. Doing things that they like can reduce their stress levels and help them relax.

Professor Robert Feldman says that one of the most fundamental skills we have as human beings is our ability to listen. “Listening effectively” he notes, is essential to our mental health and wellbeing.

Don’t be egotistical

how to have good emotional intelligence

Sometimes, I get into an argument with my roommate about whether or not we should pay more attention in psychology. He argues that it is totally unnecessary because anyone can learn how to control their emotions if they try.

I argue back saying that unless you have experienced emotional distress first-hand, you will never understand what it feels like. You are probably also unaware of the different strategies people use to deal with strong feelings.

So, by denying everyone out right access to this knowledge, you are effectively limiting the options some people have for coping with difficult situations. This may seem like a good thing at first, but in reality it creates bigger problems down the road.

Be humble

how to have good emotional intelligence

Sometimes we get so focused on being smart that we forget what really matters in life. We become very self-focused and blinded by our knowledge and skills.

This is not good emotional intelligence.

Having high IQ does not make you happy or successful, it can even be detrimental if your goal is happiness and success. Because of this, most people are not totally convinced that intellectual achievements bring true lasting joy.

A few examples will prove this theory wrong!

Think about it – how often have you heard someone say something like ‘dude, I would love to know who inspired this person’s career,”? Or maybe they said, “I wonder why X person doesn’t do Y anymore…”

That’s all well and good, but what happens after they left that job? Do they keep working for companies because THEY want to continue doing their own thing, or is it because they don’t have anyone else to inspire them or help them stay motivated at work?

The truth is, it’s mostly likely the second one. They lose motivation when others around them no longer seem interested in the same things that motivate them.

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