Now that you know what emotional intelligence is, do you know how to improve it?
With the basics covered in the previous post, you should have a good idea of what emotional intelligent actually is and where you fall on the radar. If you’re finding yourself failing in some areas, don’t panic, I’ve got you covered. There are many different things you can do to improve your emotional intelligence. You can practice at home, in the workplace or even in public. It’s all about learning to be mindful of your conversations, reading body language and becoming a better listener.
But remember, development is a journey and not a destination. Cut yourself some slack and realise that it’s going to take time in order to get to where you want to be!
Take time to sit with yourself and your emotions.
The 21st century is a busy place! We all lead busy lives both mentally and physically, so it’s all too easy to forget about our emotions. It can be hard to get back in touch with ourselves in that way but it’s paramount that we learn how to reconnect with ourselves if we want to increase our emotional intelligence. One way we can do this is by taking it back to the start and breathing.
I remember sitting in my therapist’s office a few weeks ago, nerves frayed and ready to pack it all in. Briefly I recall talking to her at lightening speed, and with such raw emotion. I honestly don’t know how she was able to keep up. But she did and her response to the whole situation (and many situations since) was “Have you been breathing correctly?”
It came as such a shock to me because I’d never been asked that before by anyone, let alone a therapist. I know the importance of breathing, I’ve practiced breathing through my yoga practice. But when I get into a state of high stress I often forget all that I’ve been taught.
“Yes, well no, but I’ve tried.”
Breathing deeply and mindfully helps us connect to ourselves. It enables us to look deep and grasp at the emotions that might be hiding behind a destructive habit or perpetual busyness.
It might seem silly because we surely all know how to breathe, but the problem is we don’t. Not really. We breathe as an everyday part of life but we don’t take time to inhale deeply, hold and sit with our breath for more than a second.
Next time you have a spare minute in traffic, in the office or at home take the time to practice 4-7-8 breathing. Better yet, set a timer for a few times a day and when that timer goes off, stop, breathe and have a conversation with your emotions.
Bounce back after!
Struggles come and go. Sometimes more for some than others. It’s not the challenges themselves that matter but how we react to them. It either sets you up for success or can send you spiraling into a meltdown.
It’s no secret that positive thinking will take your far but how do we do that when everything seems to be falling down around us? It’s not easy, and chances are you’ve heard it all before but in order to stay positive you need to look after yourself.
Difficult times call for a lot of your physical, emotional and mental energy, and if you don’t have enough reserves in stock you could end running on empty. Looking after yourself means self-care even on a minimal level. Make sure you sleep enough, eat enough, drink enough, connect with others and even take the time to be exercised. Even if it’s just a few moments alone while you walk to the shop.
Once you’ve mastered these and have enough reserves to last, it’s time to stomp out the negatively before or as it arrives on your doorstep. Thinking negatively breeds more and more until you are drowning. Thinking positively does not make everything alright, but it stops the downward spiral.
Check out the following posts for more information on things you can do to help kick start a positive mindset;
Learn to manage negative emotions!
When you’re able to reduce and manage your negative emotions, you’re less likely to become overwhelmed according to Ashley Stahl over at Forbes. For people like me who have problems identifying their feelings, much less managing them, this can be difficult.
In order to teach ourselves to be one with emotions, we need to learn to step back from the situation. In recent months I’ve become somewhat of a diplomat, choosing to look at the why’s behind emotions and actions, opposed to jumping to conclusions right away. Up until lately, I was also getting pretty good at stopping a negative thought or feeling midway, choosing instead to tell myself something different.
A lot of this practice comes down to mindfulness in all walks of life in order to gain a better perspective on things.
Know your triggers!
This is so important not just for emotional intelligence, but for anyone who may be going through mental illness. Know what sets you off and either avoid it or learn to reduce it. For me it comes down to avoiding all harmful social media that might trigger Anorexia in my brain, or turning my work phone off during holidays and weekends to avoid looking at potentially stressful emails.
I’ve also recently taken to opening any work related emails while in company so I can easily talk it over if panic follows, which it quite often does.
Be aware of how you communicate with people. It’s not just about verbal communication but non-verbal as well! Make an effort to actively listen to people, maintain eye contact and be aware of body language.
I’m perpetually anxious so every word that comes out of my mouth is second-guessed. I even monitor my body language so as not to come across too weak or too strong. It’s not a bad way to be, but it’s also not good and I need to find some middle ground.
However, for some of us word vomit and listening to others are a problem. Instead of tripping over your words or coming across too strong, be mindful of the vocabulary that you’re using. If someone has ticked you off put yourself in their shoes. Did they really mean it that way, or have you taken it the wrong way? Maybe they aren’t the best communicator and just don’t know how to better present themselves. It’s not your fault, it’s theirs.
Z.Hereford over at Essential Life Skills goes in depth about the importance of good communication skills in the workplace. These not only are effective in a work environment, but in all walks of life!