How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

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No matter if you've been paying attention to professional networking sites or just personal development trends, there's one term you've probably seen a lot of recently: emotional intelligence. At its most basic, emotional intelligence, which is often referred to as "EQ", refers to one's ability to understand and manage the emotions of themselves and others. It has similarities to empathy, but goes beyond just understanding emotions. Those with high EQ are able to effectively handle emotional situations in their personal and professional lives. It's a tool that undoubtedly sets them up for success.

How to improve your emotional intelligence

In the business world, individuals with high EQ are highly sought after. If you think about it, it makes sense. Organizations want to hire people who can navigate emotional situations without letting their own emotions get the best of them. This is particularly true when they're looking for people to fill management positions. According to a CareerBuilder survey, organizations would prize someone with high EQ over high IQ.

If this is the first time you're reading about EQ, or you're concerned that you don't have high EQ, don't worry. This article will explain the importance of EQ and detail some simple ways that you can improve your own EQ.


Why Does It Matter?

We've discussed the professional benefits of honing your EQ, but having high EQ is important for a variety of different reasons. While it's true that having high intelligence (IQ) will get you far in life, as far as getting into the good schools and landing good jobs, without having social skills and the ability to navigate difficult emotions, you won't be successful.

Having high EQ can help you improve various areas of your life, including your physical health, mental health, social savvy, and your personal relationships. Curious how this skill can extend to this many different areas of your life? Here's how:

Physical health:

If you have high EQ, you're able to manage your own emotions, including your stress levels. While some stress is good for you, chronic and prolonged stress can put you at risk for having a heart attack or stroke, and developing conditions like increased blood pressure and infertility. Improving your EQ will help you keep your physical health in check.

Mental health:

Chronic stress and uncontrolled emotions can cause serious negative effects on your mental health. Learning how to manage your emotions and stress, which is known as having high EQ, can help you prevent developing mental health conditions and can help you manage them if you have one.

Mental health

Social savvy:

We've all been in situations with someone who didn't have the best social skills. For example, you've probably been in the situation where you were at the gym trying to get a workout in only for someone to keep trying to talk to you, even though your body language (and headphones in your ears) demonstrated that you wanted to be left alone. Those who are attuned to their EQ can pick up on these cues even from strangers, giving them the social savvy that they need in any situation.

Personal relationships:

Those with high EQ are well-equipped to navigate their personal familial, platonic and romantic relationships as they're able to understand and manage emotions, even in harrowing of times.


What Can You Do?

Now that you understand the importance of EQ, you're probably wondering how one can achieve EQ. Some people naturally have high EQ, but the majority of people have to work to develop such skills. However, you should know that it isn't something that will happen overnight. Strengthening your EQ will take time, but the good news is that the changes you seek to achieve can be accomplished through honing a few soft skills.

Here are the top soft skills that you can work on to improve your emotional intelligence:

Self-awareness:

Improving your self-awareness is critical for improving your EQ. At its core, self-awareness involves how aware you are of yourself and emotions, as well as the impact your actions have on others. To increase your self-awareness, start thinking critically about each of your actions and how they may affect others. Trying to think about how your actions will affect others before you take those steps will help you become more self-aware and emotionally intelligent.

Communication:

Being able to articulate your emotions in any area of your life, whether it be professional, personal or social, is critical for improving your EQ. If you lack proper communication skills, you won't be able to overcome your emotions or stress in large group settings to communicate properly. To develop communication skills, you should practice public speaking. In many cases, public speaking produces anxiety and discomfort. Overcoming these feelings in a group setting, though, is the best way to hone your communication skills.

Self-management:

Properly managing your time and examining your lifestyle choices will help you make sure you're staying on top of tasks. Guiding others requires a high level of EQ, but it also requires a high aptitude for being organized. If others understand respect that you are organized and can manage yourself, they can trust that you can manage them.

Self-management

Self-confidence:

Think about all the top leaders in the world—what do they have in common? They're all confident in themselves and their abilities. Being confident in yourself can help you overcome any insecurities and also help you boost your EQ. People can pick up on when you're nervous or anxious, so practice being confident in all aspects of your life.

Social-awareness:

Those with high EQ are well-equipped to handle a variety of interpersonal interactions. To improve your ability to navigate these situations, practice your social-awareness. Having good social-awareness means that you understand how your emotions affect others, and vice versa. To practice this skill, reflect on how the actions of others affect you. From there, you can adjust your actions based on your experiences.

Social-awareness


Summary

By working on the aforementioned soft skills, you will be well on your way toward improving your overall emotional intelligence, which will have long-term positive effects on your personal, professional and social life.