Emotional intelligence ranks very high among the crucial determinants of our success and it is important that we actively strive to improve our EQ. This is because our emotions are the hardest things to control, and yet they control our thoughts as well as our behaviors.
We discuss below some actionable habits which are guaranteed to place us firmly on the path to continuously improving our emotional intelligence, and consequently the quality of all aspects of our lives.
Always take a pause
We are all faced with different situations and our response to those situations determines whether we worsen the matter or benefit from that situation. The key to responding in an emotionally intelligent way is to pause before taking action or speaking so that you give chance to the rational side of your mind to take control rather than leaving the emotional side in charge.
Let us use a quick example to illustrate what we mean. Imagine a subordinate at work has spoken disrespectfully to you. Your first instinct may be to shout back at that person informing them that you are the boss and you can fire them for being disrespectful. However, when you mentally count to ten before responding, your emotions will calm down a bit and you will be able to respond in a way that doesn’t escalate the conflict.
The key takeaway from this? Learn to pause before you act or speak. You will make fewer emotion-driven mistakes and you will have fewer regrets.
Repeatedly ask why
It is important to be relentless in asking yourself and other why (or other appropriate versions of this question) so that you can get to the root cause/emotion behind something, such your true motivation for doing something.
This repeated question will help you to become aware of what is driving you or others and you will be in a better position to make the right decisions on the way forward. For example, when you repeatedly ask yourself why you spend impulsively, you may discover that you have a deep sense of inadequacy that drives you to spend in order to impress others about your social status. Addressing that deep-rooted inadequacy will free you from your habit of spending impulsively and you will be better equipped to manage your finances responsibly.
Always seek for the hard truth
This habit can be regarded as an extension of the previous one to do with repeatedly asking why, but there are some subtle differences. Emotionally intelligent people are self-aware and are capable of harnessing their own and the emotions of others in order to attain set objectives.
This is only possible if they constantly seek for the hard truth in every conversation or situation. For example, delve into how your team is handling a given project by asking whether everything is okay, followed by questions about what else they may need or what could make their task easier. Those different questions will yield the truth about how they are finding the project and you will come off as a better leader who wants to help the team to achieve its goals.
Always be positive
Emotionally intelligent people are relentless in their desire to keep positive. Remember, people never forget how you made them feel, so it important that you remain optimistic at all times. When you see the good in others, they strive to improve where they don’t measure up in order to remain in your good books.
How do you remain positive when someone has messed up badly, such as failing to meet a customer delivery deadline? Rather than berate the person about how they messed up, focus on what lessons can be learned and how a similar situation can be avoided next time. In this way, you will shift the discussion from blaming the team member (which triggers a defensive stance that isn’t helpful to anyone) to focusing on the problem and how it can be avoided.
Being positive also benefits your physical and mental wellbeing, in addition to enhancing your relationships with others. Don’t be that person who is always grumpy or complaining! That isn’t emotional intelligence.
You can’t track or improve what you aren’t aware of. In order to improve your emotional intelligence, it is necessary to journal about your feelings and how you handled different situations in the course of your day.
As you journal about those different events, you will notice patterns emerging and you will spot opportunities to change course in the way you deal with different situations. With time, you will get a better handle on your emotions and you will be better at identifying and responding to the emotions of others as you progress towards the attainment of your goals.
Don’t be too consumed by whether you are journaling correctly or not. Just focus on tracking how different situations made you feel in the course of your day, how the emotions of others affected your own emotions and actions, and how you can improve the way you control your own emotions while improving the way you relate with others.
End with gratitude
Remember what we mentioned earlier that people can forget what you said, forget what you did, but they never forget how you made them feel? This brings us to another habit that can improve your emotional intelligence; deliberately look for a way to end with gratitude in all your interactions with people.
For example, you may be wondering how you can end with gratitude after having a one-on-one meeting with an employee that is habitually falling behind in meeting their targets. Well, the fact that they have come and sat with you to discuss the matter is something worth being grateful for, and you can close your meeting by thanking them for coming on time and contributing honestly to the discussion. They will remember that positive note and who knows, that may be all they need to do better.
Summing it up…
Remember that emotional intelligence is about being aware of your emotions and managing yourself, as well as being aware of the feelings of others, and then managing your relationships with different people. Use the habits above to track how you are doing in each of the four aspects above and set targets to improve your score on each of those parameters. At the end of the day, you will have a better experience on this journey called life and you will be more fulfilled as your EQ improves.
To Your Success,