The idea of emotional intelligence, or EI, has been around for some time now. But even though EI is more widely accepted—especially in business—misconceptions about how to develop it are common. Much of what has been written makes it appear that increasing our EI requires a large amount of ongoing effort and a lifetime commitment. So it’s no wonder that some people may find this idea overwhelming.
While any type of change can involve commitment over a long period of time, there are simple things we can do that will give us immediate results. These are easy things we can incorporate into our daily routines, and they can have a big impact, helping you feel less overwhelmed and more successful at work. After seeing the results and benefits of doing a few basic concepts differently, you may be inspired to go deeper into developing your emotional intelligence.
Here are five simple ways we can boost our emotional intelligence every day:
Become more aware of your feelings
For many people, feelings are something that happen in the background. Combat this by actively checking in with yourself about how you’re feeling a few times a day. Take a moment to use words to describe your emotional state. This practice helps increase awareness of your feelings and gives you more control. Since emotional intelligence is about managing our feelings, becoming more aware of them is a crucial first step.
In my book, The Other Kind of Smart, I suggest also making a practice of sharing at least one positive emotion with another person. Share how someone something they did or said lifted you up.
Emotional intelligence is about building stronger connections with others. We can do this by becoming better listeners. Most people are too busy thinking of a response to really listen. Next time you’re talking with a colleague at work, instead of thinking about how you’ll respond, force yourself to focus on what they are saying. Repeat back in your own words and ask questions. People are so used to not being heard that you will gain respect from them just for listening—even if you don’t agree.
We’ve all been in a situation where someone who goes on talking to us about something that is solely of interest to them, like what they dreamt about last night. They seem to be totally oblivious to the fact that we may not be interested in what they are rambling on about. We are likely trying to get away from them as soon as possible and will avoid them in the future. When talking to someone, ask yourself if the topic you’re excited to discuss would be of any interest to them.
Better yet, take time to ask them about their life. Most people love to talk about themselves. Try to remember things about people that are important to them and bring it up next time you see them. Doing this will create the feeling they are important to you, which will help you forge deeper connections.
Take a brief time out when needed
We all feel powerful emotions at some point. Experiencing the exhilaration of your rec soccer team scoring an important goal by shouting and throwing up your arms is a healthy way to express a positive emotion. However, when we experience extreme anger and rage, expressing it immediately can get us into trouble. Road rage is an example of anger running amuck. These powerful emotions will subside quickly if we don’t act on them and allow ourselves a few seconds to calm down. For me, counting to 10 works well. For some people it is humming a song they have in their head. Find something that works for you and practice when you feel your anger rising. It can save you from doing or saying something you may regret.
Review your day
Before you go to sleep, briefly look over your interactions that day. Consider what went well and what could have gone better. If you tried something different and it worked out, take a moment to enjoy the feeling of knowing that you are in charge of your feelings and actions. If something didn’t go well, think of how you might have handled it differently. Resolve to try something else next time. You can also try to pick one thing and work on it. Remember that any progress is a win and will keep you moving in the right direction.