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How to Develop Your Emotional Intelligence

by Karen Rollins Jan 16, 2023

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Emotional intelligence or EI, is defined as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically”.

Experts suggest mastering your EI can improve your overall wellbeing and ensure success at work as you learn to manage your emotions, empathise more with others and regulate your reaction to stressful events.

Most of us aren’t taught much about understanding and developing EI but if you practice some of the five tips listed below you can enhance your emotional skills.

Be self-aware

Self-awareness is one of the cornerstones of emotional intelligence.

Getting in touch with your own emotions, through meditation or mindfulness, will help you to be more aware of other people’s.

People who understand their emotions usually find it easier to deal with them, and are willing to take an honest look at areas which might need some work.

Develop an ‘attitude of gratitude’

Experts have found that practicing gratitude on a daily basis lifts our mood and overall wellbeing. Being thankful for what you have can alleviate stress and depression, and even improve physical health.

One way to develop an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is to write down ten positive things in your life each morning or before you go to sleep.

When you need to remember how blessed you are, go back and look at the list, and it’ll provide you with an instant emotional boost.

Improve your listening skills

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply” – Stephen R. Covey.

If you take your time to really hear what a person is saying, you can pick up on the underlying feelings and subtle meanings behind their words, which will help you to connect with other individuals and ensure you respond appropriately.

You can improve your listening skills by taking turns with a friend to talk and listen intently, and then repeat back everything you’ve heard. You might think you’re a good listener but the results of this exercise could surprise you!

Respond rather than react

The difference between responding and reacting is just a matter of time.

A reaction is usually quick and involves little thought, but a response requires you to take a step back and consider the situation before choosing what to say and do in reply.

If you choose to respond, rather than react, you can stay in control of your emotions and negate destructive impulses such as anger.

When you feel an emotional reaction coming on, take a deep breath before you speak or act, distract yourself by counting to ten, focus on pre-prepared thoughts or use a simple mantra such as ‘I am relaxed, I am calm, I will not react’.

Take responsibility for your feeling and actions

Taking responsibility for your own actions can be a challenging step but it’s also one of the most helpful to get under control.

When we accept that our emotions and behaviour are ours alone, and don’t come from anyone else, we can take ownership of them.

This means apologising if we know we’ve hurt someone’s feelings, owning up to a wrong instead of blaming someone or something else, or denying it ever happened, and being mature about accepting our mistakes.

Sources: Psychology Today and VeryWellMind.com.