Developing your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is an ability we can develop to recognize our own emotions and also the emotions of those around us. Recognizing emotions gives us the opportunity to understand ourselves and others better, react in a thoughtful and constructive way and to grow.
This is one of the things that I believe should be taught at schools today. I believe it’s very important to be able to relate to others in a peaceful and harmonious way; and this is true not only to relate better with our loved ones but our co-workers and any individual that we may cross paths with.
Some of the benefits of emotional intelligence are that it helps us communicate better with others, it improves relationships, it helps us empathize with others, it can reduce anxiety and stress; and also it can help us overcome hard times in life.
There are five qualities to emotional intelligence:
- Self awareness
- Self- knowledge or self-regulation
- Social skills
The most important step to achieve emotional intelligence is self-awareness. By developing self-awareness we can understand ourselves better and relate with the world in a constructive way.
Ways to develop more self-awareness:
- Meditation and yoga: These practices develop your self-awareness little by little. They have a great way of making you start paying close attention to yourself, how you breathe, your thought patterns, your reactions to difficult situations, etc.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses: By knowing them you can develop those strengths and learn how to deal with the weaknesses.
- Self-discipline: To be able to achieve anything in life you must have clear goals and focus your energy on them to be able to achieve them. By developing self-discipline you are able to stay focused on the goal.
SELF-KNOWLEDGE OR SELF-REGULATION
Self-knowledge or self-regulation is the second quality of emotional intelligence. It refers to how well you know your emotions and what you do to regulate them. It is all about recognizing and controlling your emotions and the reactions that they trigger.
Ways to develop self-knowledge:
- Know your emotional triggers: What puts you in a bad mood? What makes you sad? Who brings out the best in you? or the worst? What makes you angry? Define which are your triggers.
- Keep a journal: Journaling is a great way to self-reflect every day. It’s of great help to see what happens each day, observe patterns, be aware of how we react to situations, how we think and what we say.
- Don’t judge your feelings: “It’s ok to feel however you feel”. Let me repeat this: “Its ok to feel however you feel”. Your emotions are valid, no matter what they are. How you react to them is another story. Accept however you feel and don’t judge your feelings.
- Know your limits: Learning what your limits are makes it easier to know what you can let go of and what you cannot compromise with others. Knowing your limits can help you set your boundaries with people around you which helps communication and healthier relationships.
- Stay calm: Practicing calmness during difficult interactions is a great way to communicate better. Practicing meditation, yoga, tai chi or any other practice that calms you is a great way to develop self-regulation and self-knowledge.
- Adaptability: learning to adapt to any situation and accepting change is a self-regulation competency.
Self-motivation is the third quality of emotional intelligence. It’s a personal competence that we must develop to be able to succeed in life. It’s about consistently working towards what you want in life, it’s about your commitment, initiative and even optimism to achieve you want.
Motivation helps us improve ourselves, so we can achieve our goals and therefor be content with our lives. It consist of learning to manage our own time. Also, learning to say ‘No’ when we know we cannot deliver. It’s knowing our limits and not overextending ourselves to please others.
Ways to develop self motivation:
- Define goals: Define your values, your goals and your plans. Stick to them!
- Reason why: Set reminders to periodically remind yourself of why you are doing what you are doing
- Define your limits: If you can define your limits, you can set the boundaries about what you can and cannot do.
- Say “No”: Practice saying ‘No’ when you cannot deliver. It is ok to say “No”, you can’t always be able to please everyone.
Empathy forms part of emotional intelligence because it helps form strong and meaningful relationships.
Empathy is the ability to understand how another person might feel, even though we might not agree with them. It is trying to understand where they are coming from to be able to connect and communicate better with them.
Ways to develop empathy:
- The other’s perspective: Imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes.
- Listening: Practice listening to others to understand their point of view and how they see the situation.
- Out of your comfort zone: Get out of your comfort zone to experience new situations and practice your empathy skills.
- Feedback: Get feedback from others, how they see you or what they would like you to improve on, this helps you to grow.
- Questions: Ask others questions to understand them better. Get curious about other’s way of seeing life, and why they see it that way.
Social skills is the last quality of emotional intelligence because it’s the gateway to interaction with others. This not only means verbally but body language as well.
Developing these skills is crucial to have healthy relationships and interactions with others.
Ways to develop social skills:
- Feedback: Ask friends and co-workers to describe you. How do you normally relate to them? How do they perceive you? What can you improve on?
- What are your emotions? Identify and deal with your emotions when they arise in interactions with others.
- React when calm: Resolve issues with others when you are calm, not when you are upset or angry. This will only make things worse.
- Communicate: Effective communication is key to all interpersonal relationships
- Live in the now: Stay present and be aware of your attitude when interacting with others.
- Be honest: Always about what you need, want and feel and communicate it to others in a respectful way.
- Be assertive: being confident in expressing yourself and communicating effectively to others. It can also help your self-esteem.
We can all improve our relationship with ourselves and others by developing more our emotional intelligence. These qualities are a set of tools for us to comprehend ourselves and our surroundings better, to communicate effectively, to connect with others, to have a more positive outlook, to help self growth and have a more balanced life but it all starts with you!