What’s something that everyone experiences, but few of us actually MASTERS? Our emotions.
We talk a lot about our intellect and IQs, but what about being emotionally intelligent? You’d think that something SO prevalent (and worth 58% of your professional performance) would deserve more dialogue.
On today’s episode of ‘books that changed my life’, I want to share one introduced to me during my Master’s program: Emotional Intelligence 2.0. The quick-ish read does an AMAZING job with explaining different facets of emotional intelligence, and offering ways for us to improve them. I won’t sit here and re-write 200+ pages for y’all, but I WILL give you a “cliff’s notes” version of my favorite tidbits from the book 🙂 So, here are some gems for understanding and improving your emotional intelligence:
First of all, wtf is emotional intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence, also called emotional quotient or EQ, is “recognizing and understanding emotions in ourselves and others”, and our ability to use this awareness to manage our behavior and relationships. It involves things like empathy, accountability, trust, anger management, and adaptability, just to name a few. Unlike our IQ, our EQ is not set in stone; it can increase/improve over time, with effort.
This book identifies 4 components of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. I’ll briefly explain each, and give you a few of my favorite suggestions for improvement.
Self-awareness is “the ability to perceive [our] own feelings and tendencies across situations, and develop an honest understanding of what makes us tick”. It’s less about ‘digging deep’, and more about being straightforward with ourselves: Am I clear on my long term goals? How do I react to certain situations or challenges? What feelings trigger discomfort for me? Am I willing to work through said “discomfort” in order to learn important things about myself? Of the many suggested strategies to improve self awareness, my favorites are:
- Stop judging your feelings as “good” or “bad”
- Know who and what pushes your buttons
- Ask yourself why you do the things you do
- Spot your emotions in books, movies, and music
Self-management, coupled with self-awareness, means expressing our feelings, staying flexible/open-minded, and acting accordingly to best benefit our relationship(s). In many cases, self-management skills are revealed by our ability to handle uncertainty as we explore all of our emotions and options (i.e., our level of patience and composure). One of the biggest challenges with this one is consistently applying the same skills across a variety of situations (especially if you’re not strong in this area). Some essential self-management strategies include (but aren’t limited to):
- Making your goals known
- Learning a valuable lesson from everyone you encounter
- Putting a mental recharge into your schedule
- Accepting that change is inevitable
Social awareness skills give us the ability to accurately pick up on the emotions of others, in order to achieve a better understanding of other people’s needs. This one requires us to suspend our thoughts temporarily, and be present; when we actively observe and listen to someone, we’ll get our most accurate depiction of how they really feel. (The folks good at reading people shine the brightest here) Some keys to help with social awareness are:
- Watching body language
- Practicing the art of listening
- Going people watching
- Catching the mood of the room
Relationship management encompasses all 3 skill sets above to manage interactions successfully. A major part of this is handling conflict and knowing how to effectively connect with others. This tends to be most difficult during times of stress. A few ways to ensure that you are managing well are to:
- Avoid giving mixed signals
- Take feedback well
- Acknowledge the other person’s feelings
- Make your feedback direct and constructive
Whether you’re navigating personal or professional relationships, emotional intelligence is essential to success of any kind. If you follow these steps (and plenty of others), you’ll move closer to being your best self and making the most out of your interactions. I urge all of our readers to take these positive steps toward mastering your emotional intelligence.