In leadership and professional development world, the term “emotional intelligence” is used frequently, but what does it really mean for you and I?
Emotional Intelligence can be best defined as the ability to understand, manage, and effectively express one’s own feelings, as well as engage successfully with those of others.
Studies have repeatedly shown a correlation between professional success and high level of emotional intelligence; in addition, emotional intelligence is essential for harmonious relationships at work and home.
As with most things in life, if we are willing to do self-evaluation, study and put in the effort, we can improve our emotional intelligence and consequently our relationships – not just with others, but with ourselves as well.
If your professional relationships are a struggle for you, it may be time to take a closer look within yourself.
Not self blame, but simply exploring what you are contributing to the relationships and where there is room for improvement. Here are six ways you can improve your level of emotional intelligence:
Many people tend to blame others for their emotions. “He made me feel bad when he said…” or “She really hurt me.”
No one makes us feel or do anything. Our feelings appear and disappear like waves in the ocean. It is up to us if we choose to focus on them or not. For example, anger can arise suddenly, but people might cling onto it for ages, holding grudges, not speaking to family members for years, and so on.
By recognizing our emotions, we can get them under control. Note that “control” does not mean “suppress.” It means to express them in a healthy and productive way. Using the anger example, some people shout, scream and throw things. Others go silent and refuse to speak to the other person involved.
Once you have identified an emotion you would like to handle more skillfully, it will be time to come up with strategies that can prevent the emotion from running away with you. For example, some people count to ten before they say anything if they feel anger is rising, in order to give themselves a bit of distance from the emotion and not let the heat of the moment cause them to do anything they might later regret.
Listening to others and observing them are two steps to better understanding of those around you. If you’ve been struggling in a relationship, try to take a step back and view the person with fresh eyes. Don’t assume or rush to judge. Also, don’t take anything for granted. The longer you have known someone, the more you might think you “know” them, but people can sometimes deceive us, and even themselves if they are not in tune with their emotions.
Sometimes we think it is all about us, when in fact a person’s reaction might have no connection to us at all. Your boss might seem angry, so you think it is about you, your work, or that they are planning to fire you. Your mind can jump to all sorts of conclusions, but the only way you will really be able to try to find out what’s wrong is if you ask.
Of course, the person might then tell you to mind your own business, or lie and say there’s nothing wrong, both of which are communication stoppers and might even make things worse. But, don’t assume that another person’s feelings are to do with you.
Once you have started to recognize and control your emotions, it will be time to take the next step – conveying them to others when needed. This does not mean sharing every feeling, but only ones that make you feel distant from the other person and need to be resolved if you are going to grow closer once more.
Are you familiar with the concept of emotional intelligence? How have you used it to strengthen your personal and professional relationships?