Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, perceive and evaluate your emotions – as well as the emotions of others – and manage them in a productive and healthy way.
High emotional intelligence will improve your relationships with others and raise your chances of being successful in life. You can take this simple test to evaluate your emotional intelligence.
Although some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, you can further develop and boost your emotional intelligence.
It may take a lot of effort, requiring changing long-standing habits and behavior. While it may not be easy, with proper guidance and practice, you can work on your ability to tune into your emotions and make them work for you instead of against you.
Here is how to improve your emotional intelligence with more than 20 pro-tips.
- Be aware of your feelings. When in a hurry rushing from one commitment to the other, people generally lose touch with their emotions. When you start paying attention to your emotions and feelings, you start trusting them, thereby enabling you to manage them better.
Set aside a particular time everyday to connect to yourself. Take a few deep breaths and tune into your inner sensations and feelings. The more you do this regularly, the more it will come naturally to you.
- Pay attention to your behavior. While keeping a tab on how you feel emotionally, pay attention to your behavior. Notice the way you act in certain situations and how it affects your daily life. Does your behavior affect your communication with others, your productivity or your sense of well-being? Once you know how your emotions influence your behavior, you may start judging or labeling your behavior. Avoid doing that. It becomes difficult to be honest with yourself when you are judgmental.
- Observe nonverbal communication. You cannot avoid sending nonverbal messages to others about what you think and how you feel. Your facial expressions, body language and tone of voice convey your emotions and feelings to others. The same nonverbal communication helps you understand other people’s emotional intent. Practice being more observant to pick up on people’s true feelings.
- Stay away from judging your emotions. When you start judging your emotions, you prevent yourself from feeling real. This will make it difficult for you to use your emotions positively. Let your negative emotions surface and then analyze them. Ask yourself, ‘Which situation caused this emotion?’ Likewise, connect with your positive emotions and try to find ways to feel them more often.
- Take responsibility for your emotions and behavior. Your emotions and behavior emerge from you, and you are the only person who is responsible for them. If you lash out at someone because you felt hurt by something they said, your reaction is your responsibility. Once you take responsibility for your feelings and behavior, you will start noticing an improvement in all areas of your life.
- Respond instead of reacting. A reaction is usually a result of feeling an emotional trigger and unconsciously behaving in a way to relieve that emotion. A common example is snapping at another person when you’re irritated by something. Responding is when you make a conscious effort to notice how you feel and then decide how to behave.
For instance: If someone says something to you and you feel irritated, instead of snapping at the person, tell him how you feel about what he said. Make it a practice to take a moment to stop and think before you act or speak. If you feel you might react instead of responding, shift your focus by counting to 10 or focusing on something else. Then think about what has occurred and how you want to respond.
- Don’t get offended. When criticized, don’t get offended or let the emotion close your mind to negative feedback. Ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this feedback?’ or ‘How can I use this feedback to improve myself?’ If the criticism is based on a falsehood or if it is given with the intention of hurting you, then you shouldn’t take the criticism seriously.
- Be open–minded. When you have an open mind, it becomes easier to deal with conflicts.
An open mind will help you analyze things calmly. You will become more socially aware and new possibilities will open up to you.
- Empathize both with yourself and others. Be compassionate toward others. See a situation through another person’s eyes. Being empathetic doesn’t mean excusing unacceptable behavior. People’s behavior has more to do with them than with you. Detach yourself from the situation and look at it more objectively.
Ask yourself: ‘Why does he feel the way he does?’ Besides empathizing with others, empathizing with yourself can also improve your emotional intelligence. You can practice this by noticing your emotions and feelings. Ask yourself, ‘Why am I feeling this way?’ Initially you may not come up with an answer, but with practice tuning into your feelings and emotions, you will start getting answers to your questions.
- Be assertive. You need to set your boundaries to be assertive and let people know where you stand. Say ‘no’ without feeling guilty, set your own priorities and protect yourself from harm. Express your feelings assertively. Tell people openly how you feel. While communicating your feelings, avoid accusatory sentences that begin with ‘you’, such as ‘you should’ or ‘you need to’ or ‘you are.’
- Be more flexible. Being stuck in a rut or becoming inflexible to change will make your life difficult. Being too rigid will cause you to miss out on opportunities, and you will lag behind in new experiences and learning new techniques. Embracing change will help you grow as a person.
- Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Know your strengths and weaknesses. When you know yourself, you make the right choice in life. If you are accurately aware of your strengths, you will be able to identify your inner passion. This enables you to live a happier and more fulfilling life. Happy people are often emotionally intelligent people.
- Ask for others’ perspective. Other people view you much differently than the way you view yourself. Ask others, especially someone close to you, about your interactions with them. You can learn a lot from their perspective. Ask them what they thought about your behavior when you were in a highly emotional state.
- Use present language. Use present language like ‘I am enjoying this phase of my life, ‘I am feeling happy,’ etc. Focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the future or regretting the past. Make it a daily habit to work on being present in the moment. This will help you improve your emotional intelligence.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Every morning, write down 10 things that you are grateful for. This helps you to be positive and remain motivated throughout the day. Take time to notice the things that are going well in your life and what you feel grateful about in your life. It will help you become more aware of who you are and what you want from life. It helps you connect with your feelings, emotions and intuitions.
- Rate your well-being. Set aside some time daily to write down your feelings. Take a minute or two to reflect on how you feel and the triggers or situations associated with those feelings.
- Analyze your unconscious feelings. Become aware of your unconscious feelings. When your mind is calm and relaxed, let your thoughts roam freely. Notice where they go, what they think of.
Analyze your dreams. Keep a notepad and pen by your bedside and jot down whatever you remember about your dreams as soon as you wake up. Pay attention to what your dreams are all about, whether they are recurring or associated with certain feelings.
- Meditate. Emotions tend to get out of hand when you don’t slow down. Meditation will help you quiet your mind and let you connect with your inner self. It will give your emotional state of mind some time to relax. Spend at least 5 minutes meditating daily.
- Strive to be happy. A person who has control over his emotions can remain happy, even when he encounters challenges throughout the day. Happiness will help you sail smoothly through the trials and tribulations of your daily life. It will help you think clearly and understand your emotions and feelings better.
- Practice positivity. Optimism lets you focus on the positive aspects of life. Your optimistic attitude toward life will result in emotional well-being and greater new opportunities. Use positivity to make yourself happy, thereby boosting your emotional intelligence.
Whenever you catch yourself thinking or speaking negatively, consciously reframe your thoughts and words.
- Reduce stress. Stress can make you feel overwhelmed. Stress can make minor issues in your life seem more challenging than they actually are. Stress can allow your emotions and actions to get out of control. Relieving stress can help you boost your emotional intelligence. Find ways to relieve stress – whether it’s hanging out with friends, enjoying a hobby, taking a walk out in nature or anything else that helps you relax.
- Develop your social skills. Your social skills will help you build relationships. Being approachable, easy to talk to, being a good listener and being trustworthy makes you attractive and likeable. This results in improving yourself-esteem and confidence, making it easier for you to understand and accept your emotions.