“When our emotional health is in a bad state, so is our level of self-esteem. We have to slow down and deal with what is troubling us, so that we can enjoy the simple joy of being happy and at peace with ourselves.” ― Jess Scott
Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI) can be defined as the ability to understand, manage, and effectively express one’s own feelings, as well as engage and navigate successfully with those of others. 90% of high performers at the work place possess high EQ, while 80% of low performers have low EQ.
Emotional Intelligence is absolutely essential in the formation, development, maintenance, and enhancement of close personal relationships. Unlike IQ, which does not change significantly over a lifetime, our EQ can evolve and increase with our desire to learn and grow.
Below are key ways to increasing your emotional intelligence, which will support you in your career progression and your study.
The ability to reduce negative emotions
Perhaps no aspect of EQ is more important than our ability to effectively manage our own negative emotions, so they don’t overwhelm us and affect our judgment. In order to change the way we feel about a situation, we must first change the way we think about it. This is very important in the workplace and when we are learning new skills.
When you feel adversely about someone’s behaviour, avoid jumping to a negative conclusion right away. Instead, come up with multiple ways of viewing the situation before reacting. For example, I may be tempted to think my work colleague didn’t return my call because she is ignoring me, or I can consider the possibility that she’s been very busy. When we avoid personalizing other people’s behaviours, we can perceive their expressions more objectively. People do what they do because of them more than because of us. Widening our perspective can reduce the possibility of misunderstanding.
The ability to stay cool and manage stress
Most of us experience some level of stress in life. This is particularly true when we are trying to juggle work and study. How we handle stressful situations can make the difference between being assertive versus reactive, and poised versus frazzled. When under pressure, the most important thing to keep in mind is to keep our cool. Here are two quick tips:
- If you feel nervous and anxious, put cold water on your face and get some fresh air. Cool temperature can help reduce our anxiety Avoid caffeinated beverages which can stimulate your nervousness.
- If you feel fearful, depressed, or discouraged, try intense aerobic exercises. Energize yourself. The way we use our body affects greatly the way we feel. As the saying goes – motion dictates emotion.
The ability to be assertive and express difficult emotions when necessary
“Being who we are requires that we can talk openly about things that are important to us, that we take a clear position on where we stand on important emotional issues and that we clarify the limits of what is acceptable and tolerable to us in a relationship.” ― Harriet Lerner
There are times in all of our lives when it’s important to set our boundaries appropriately, so people know where we stand. These can include exercising our right to disagree (without being disagreeable), saying “no” without feeling guilty, setting our own priorities, getting what we paid for, and protecting ourselves from duress and harm.
Avoid using sentences that begin with “you” and followed by accusation or judgment, such as “you are…,” “you should…,” or “you need to….” “You” language followed by such directives put the listener on the defensive, and make them less likely to be open to what you have to say.
The ability to stay proactive, not reactive in the face of a difficult person
Most of us encounter unreasonable people in our lives. We may be “stuck” with a difficult individual at work. It’s easy to let a challenging person affect us and ruin our day. This can impact on our work and relationships in the workplace as well as our focus when completing learning activities.
When you feel angry and upset with someone, before you say something you might later regret, take a deep breath and count slowly to ten. In most circumstances, by the time you reach ten, you would have figured out a better way of communicating the issue, so that you can reduce, instead of complicate the problem. If you’re still upset after counting to ten, take a time out if possible, and revisit the issue after you calm down.
The ability to bounce back from adversity
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan
Life is not always easy. We all know that. How we choose the way we think, feel, and act in relation to life’s challenges can often make the difference between hope versus despair, optimism versus frustration, and victory versus defeat. With every challenging situation we encounter, ask questions such as “What is the lesson here?” “How can I learn from this experience?” “What is most important now?” and “If I think outside the box, what are some better answers?” The higher the quality of questions we ask, the better the quality of answers we will receive. Ask constructive questions based on learning and priorities, and we can gain the proper perspective to help us tackle the situation at hand.
“Abraham Lincoln lost eight elections, failed twice in business and suffered a nervous breakdown before he became the president of the United States.” — Wall Street Journal
When criticised, don’t take offense. Instead, ask: What can I learn?
Whether you are studying a new course or a loyal employee, criticism is never easy to take. You’ve invested blood, sweat, and sometimes tears in your work; it can be extremely difficult when someone else comes in and tears down what you’ve built.
But the truth is, criticism is often rooted in truth–even when it’s not delivered in an ideal manner. When you receive negative feedback, there are two choices: You can put your feelings aside and try to learn from the situation, or you can get angry and let emotion get the best of you.
Criticism is an integral part of learning and development. We all need to be able to reflect upon ourselves to develop and improve our skills and knowledge. If your goal is to truly get better, don’t let emotional responses stop you from doing this.