WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
Emotional Intelligence (EI) measures the ability to realize your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others, and to effectively and productively manage them. Easy, we’re all experts, right? We don’t gossip; are always calm; never buy into other’s dramas; don’t complain, or dwell in the past. If we do, then we could become victims of low EI. Those traits are all classic symptoms of low Emotional Intelligence.
It is possible to improve your Emotional Intelligence by following a series of positive steps. EI, unlike IQ, can evolve over time as one matures and faces new experiences. EI could be considered a coping mechanism, necessary to get through life’s traumas and dramas; however, effective improvement must be taught and practiced. How do you begin this transformation?
1.) LIMITING NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
This is probably one of the hardest and most important behaviors to change, particularly if you are a “glass is half empty” thinker. To effectively manage these negative emotions, you need to change your focus about a situation. Avoid jumping to negative assumptions in response to others’ behavior. Remember, believe half of what you see and none of what you hear. Consider various scenarios before jumping to conclusions and reacting negatively.
Another negative emotion is the fear of rejection. Don’t automatically assume the worst scenario will be the only outcome of, say, a job interview. Consider a variety of options so that no matter what happens, including “rejection,” you have choices as you move forward.
2.) DON’T LET STRESS CONTROL YOUR LIFE
Everyone has to deal with stress. It’s part of being human. How you handle it can be either decisive or reactive. Stress is one of those emotions that affect people differently. The trick is learning to put stress in its place. A start is reducing anxiety; throw some cold water on your face, get some air. Cooler temperatures actually do help relieve stress.
Feeling that underlying stress, depression, or something so vague as to not have a name, is hurting your Emotional Intelligence score. Try exercising, yoga, anything to get moving. Aside from being good for you physically, exercise is empowering and will help alleviate stress and also improve your confidence and ability to cope.
3.) ASSERT AND EXPRESS YOURSELF
The fundamental factor in expressing yourself is not being afraid to say “no.” It’s being honest with yourself and setting boundaries. You have every right to express yourself, and if others disagree, that’s their right, but you need not feel guilty over being honest. Nothing builds resentment and creates exhaustion more than being the go-to person, the one everyone calls because they know they’ll never say no. Don’t be that person.
4.) DEAL EFFECTIVELY WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE
Difficult people are, unfortunately, everywhere. But you have more control than you think. Here’s how.
If you get angry, take deep breaths. Count to ten, anything rather than react negatively to a person who has upset you. Then respond in a positive and calm way. Also, find a way to put yourself in their position. Doing this may help you to understand their behavior without excusing it. People usually act the way they do because of their problems, not yours. Above all, maintain your integrity and don’t “lose it.”
5.) DON’T LET ADVERSITY GET YOU DOWN
Newsflash—you can choose how you think. Reality check—life isn’t always easy. Ask the victims of the Baton Rouge area flooding. What we choose to think, to do, how we think or feel, is up to us. These thoughts can make the difference between being happy or being frustrated and depressed. The challenges will always be there, so learn how to positively respond.
6.) EXPRESS YOURSELF IN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS
Some would say this is an issue affecting only one gender, one type of person, or only some people. However, everyone is scared of being the first one to say, “I love you.” It is important to be able to communicate how you feel about a person, specifically if that person adds meaning and positive energy to your life.
This person with whom you’ve chosen to express your feelings must not be a negative influence on your life. They must be nourishing, and help you grow as a person and vice versa. So observe, communicate, and choose wisely.
It will take time, dedication, and a real commitment to improve your Emotional Intelligence. But follow these steps. Pretty soon thinking and reacting positively, and following through will be worth the effort. Start with thinking positively in every scenario. Then go from there. Soon it will come naturally, and your life will indeed change for the better.
Frank Hopkins is a certified Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). He is a certified Master Practitioner (ELI-MP) of the iPEC proprietary assessment tool, the Energy Leadership Index and offers seminars on Energy Leadership. He maintains memberships in the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and the Institute of Coaching (ICPA).