People mistakenly believe that intelligence is enough to carve out a name in the world. However, in the modern workplace, emotional intelligence (EI) matters more than anything else. In the 1990s, John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey coined the term EI and defined it as the ability to understand and manage one’s emotions. According to them, EI can make the difference between a good and a great leader. Later in 1995, Daniel Goleman argued that EI is the most accurate predictor of individual success.
Therefore, it is no wonder that nowadays, EI is the foremost requirement for humans. It further determines individual success in careers and relationships. However, EI is not something that a person can learn in a few days. It takes some time and effort to develop this competency. It is necessary to understand that there is a difference between emotions and feelings.
Emotions are multifaceted experiences, whereas feelings are conscious experiences. Another fundamental difference between the two is that one may experience feelings consciously, whereas emotions manifest subconsciously. Once you are in control of your emotions, you can regulate your feelings. You can further make critical decisions by rightly distinguishing between the prevailing emotions vs feelings under unfavorable circumstances.
There are several ways you can improve your emotional intelligence. Some of these include:
- Observe how you feel: Everyone is in a hurry nowadays. We do not stop to think about how we feel about things in our lives. So, sometimes things have a way of creeping up on you. And soon, you might find yourself too tired to think about anything. Instead of rushing from one commitment to another, set out a few minutes to de-stress. It is necessary to confront all the unresolved feelings to lead a peaceful life. As a rule of thumb, set alarms in the middle of the day to move around and meditate. Take a few deep breaths to exhale negative energies in you.
- Know thyself: One of the most common traits of excellent leaders is that they know themselves. They know when they feel positive or negative. Once you understand how exactly you are feeling, you can respond in an emotionally intelligent way to the situation.
- Think about how you behave: We often have unresolved feelings which make us behave erratically. You might be projecting your anger and frustration onto others. Therefore, critically analyze your behavior. Ask yourself if you are compensating for something. Since EI is intrinsic to our emotions, we must regulate them. Be honest with yourself about how you are behaving and why.
- Understand what makes you sweat: There is always something that pushes you over the edge of reason. It can be something trivial or significant, but whatever it is, you should take note of it. Write down your triggers so that they cannot persuade you to make unfavorable decisions. Periodically ask yourself how to get a handle on things while controlling your feelings. This strategy helps you plan for disastrous situations. It also makes it easier to avoid your triggers.
- Take responsibility for yourself: One of the most challenging things is to take responsibility for your emotions and behavior. People try to shift the blame for their bad behavior on others. For example, someone cut you off in traffic. You end up shouting at the person and fighting with him. And, when a police officer shows up, you might say that it was the other person’s fault. However, it is necessary to understand that people cannot force you to do anything. Your reactions are your own, so you can always change them. Once you accept that there is a problem, you are one step closer to solving them.
- Respond instead of reacting to things: Reactions are unconscious processes to emotional triggers. People that lack emotional intelligence give knee-jerk reactions to things. So, most of these reactions are negative. Comparatively, a response is a mindful process. We take our time to regulate our behavior and then choose the best way to act. You might even explain your actions to others.
- Cut yourself and others some slack: We are our worst critics. Sometimes we might also be too negative. These negative feelings can influence your personality. Excellent leaders put themselves in the shoes of others and understand their points of view. People with EI are better communicators since they can articulate what other people might feel in a certain situation.
- Understand that building EI is not a piece of cake: You cannot become emotionally intelligent within a few days. The process is long and hard. Becoming emotionally competent is a lot of work since it requires you to work on your inside. However, with consistency and perseverance, you too can become emotionally intelligent. Do not try to take shortcuts.
While it is true that intelligence is a metric of success, emotional intelligence is the hallmark of excellent leadership. Gone are the days of authoritarian leadership styles. Nowadays, people respond to those who can understand them. We admire those people who are graceful under pressure. By mastering emotional intelligence, you can become a competent leader. Follow these tips to improve your personal and professional relationships, and let us know which ones worked for you.