You probably know someone who you feel has more highly-developed emotional intelligence than you do, perhaps wondering how you can improve your own skills. While you might think emotional intelligence comes naturally and can’t be learnt, there are in fact significant steps you can take to enhance the way in which you handle your emotions and react in certain situations.
Become more self-aware
Take time to recognise how you’re feeling and try to establish why you feel the way you do. Being present in the moment and being aware of how certain situations or events make you feel can be quite enlightening. Rather than simply thinking “I don’t like this”, think about why you feel this way. Don’t be afraid of what you may perceive as negative feelings, such as nerves or irritation. Instead, admit to yourself how you feel and spend more time recognising who you are at your very core and accepting yourself as you are.
Empathy is an extremely important trait when it comes to dealing with other people, both personally and in the workplace. Simply listening to what someone is saying is a great way to start working on your empathy skills. Understanding people’s needs and feelings will help you to positively engage with them. You might find some people harder to read than others, but if you keep listening and observing, you should soon find that you’re able to recognise how someone is feeling. This makes interaction on both a personal and a business level far more effective and rewarding.
Control your emotions
We’ve all worked with someone with a tendency to fly off the handle at the slightest thing. And most of us would agree this is neither pleasant nor appropriate in a business environment. If you have a short fuse, learn to recognise your triggers and find a way to manage those emotions. You might initially find that you have to temporarily physically remove yourself from situations wherein you feel yourself getting angry or emotional, but, over time, managing your emotions will become easier. Practices being calm and assertive without letting your emotions control you.
Improve your social skills
People with developed emotional intelligence generally find it easier to interact with and engage others. If you find yourself shying away in social situations, think about people you know who are great at socialising or presenting ideas to colleagues. Think about any traits they may have in common and how they make people feel. There is a fairly good chance that they make other people feel valued and important. Great social skills are less about talking and more about listening, reading situations and putting people at ease. Learn to relax in groups of people and ask questions. Listen carefully to conversations and make those with whom you speak feel genuinely valued.
Anyone who has invested time in developing their emotional intelligence will tell you that they see significant benefits in their daily interactions with others and in achieving their desired outcomes in any given situation, whether business or personal. They are routinely perceived as offering greater value by senior management and, in many cases, may enjoy accelerated career progression. This is a wholly portable skill set that far transcends individual industries and employers.
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