How to Build Skill in Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EQ) has been an important part of successful businesses well before Daniel Goleman described its five components and even before Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer coined the phrase 30 years ago.
According to the Levo Institute, 80% of employees consider EQ crucial to develop their careers, and 87% of millennials report that the emotional intelligence of their leaders motivates them to help companies succeed. Numerous other studies have cited the positive role of emotional intelligence in leadership effectiveness, career success and employee turnover.
And, now, we’re hearing about the concept even more as the world has faced change and challenges throughout the past several months. In the news, the workplace and our personal lives, we’re hearing frequent message about the importance of acting with empathy to support one another now more than ever.
That call to be empathetic and to foster greater understanding can have a powerful impact on our world, and it can take time to learn to effectively operate with emotional intelligence and each of its components, including:
- Social skills
Even with a healthy sense of EQ, we still need to continually practice it and fine tune our approach – just as we would with any other skill. As you and your colleagues build your emotional intelligence, I invite you to consider the following techniques.
Six Tips to Build an Emotionally Intelligent Mindset
1. Assume positive intent
People aren’t perfect. They may use the wrong words or a tone that doesn’t resonate. If you employ a mindset where you assume that everything coming your way stems from a positive place, it can empower you to better regulate your emotions and interact with empathy. Positive presupposition is baked into our core values at Emergenetics, and I can affirm that it does make a difference in the emotional wellbeing of our team.
2. Check in with yourself throughout the day
Make self-awareness part of your routine by checking in to understand whether you are being present in the moment and to identify how you are feeling so you can better process your emotions. Set a calendar reminder, find a buddy or add it to your morning or nighttime routine. By making these check-ins a habit, you can become more attuned to your state of mind.
3. Practice the art of the pause
In challenging or exciting situations, it can be difficult to keep yourself from reacting rather than responding. The natural fight-or-flight state is crucial in a real crisis, and in your typical day, most of your interactions allow for you to pause, consider the situation at hand, think about how you are feeling and respond thoughtfully, with empathy. Start by just taking three breaths to slow down.
4. Identify stressors
Take time to consider what circumstances, approaches or even communication styles cause you to feel anxious or stressed. When you know what factors may make it more difficult for you to self-regulate or motivate yourself to action, you can better recognise them when they appear and then work to manage your emotions.
5. Listen without judgment
To support an emotionally intelligent mindset, practice replacing judgment with curiosity. When you approach people, comments and situations with the intent to learn, it helps you to act with empathy by empowering you to ask questions to fully understand the situation or person and respond mindfully. Adding the phrase ‘tell me more’ to your everyday conversations is a great place to start.
6. Take time to reflect each day
Reflection is so important as we build skill in emotional intelligence. Give yourself space to reflect on what occurred in your day. Celebrate your successes, recognise your own growth in how you’ve managed your responses and identify things you may want to do differently in the future. Reflections can take many shapes – journaling, internal processing or sharing with a loved one – I invite you to find a method that works best for you.
Six Actions You Can Take to Practice EQ and Empathy
1. Engage in a random act of kindness
A random act of kindness doesn’t just make someone else’s day. It can also help strengthen your emotional intelligence and empathy. Consider some simple ways you can put this suggestion into practice like sending a thank you note or asking a coworker if you can lend them a hand with a project.
Getting involved in the community is a powerful way to open your mind and build empathy for others. Look for opportunities to volunteer in-person, virtually or local organisations in your community.
3. Step outside of your comfort zone
You don’t have to take this action to an extreme. Even something as simple as taking a new path to get to a family member’s home can help you act differently. Deviating from your routine and stepping outside of your comfort zone will allow you to embrace new approaches and help you build empathy.
As an avid reader myself, I love this suggestion! Characters in novels can give you insights into multifaceted human emotions. By bringing you into the minds of others, books can encourage you to empathise with different perspectives.
5. Ask for feedback
When you’re working with colleagues, ask for input on how you are doing and ways you could improve. You will need an environment of psychological safety if you are going to get honest feedback, and simply asking for input can help you consider different perspectives and practice emotional intelligence.
6. Use the Platinum Rule in your interactions
As a final recommendation, I encourage you to practice emotional intelligence by using the Platinum Rule – to do unto others as they would want us to do unto them. We use the Platinum Rule at Emergenetics by considering the Emergenetics Profile of each team member or client we interact with. Using the Profile, we adjust our language and style to honour their preferences, which supports empathy and helps us build social skills.
Developing emotional intelligence takes ongoing practice. Whether you are new to EQ or have been working on it for some time, I hope my tips can help you create a mindset of emotional intelligence and provide action steps to practice EQ in all its dimensions.
If you’re interested in more ideas to support your journey in emotional intelligence, I encourage you to download our recent eBook which describes practical ways to foster self-awareness among your employees. You can also fill out the form below to connect with an Emergenetics team member to learn how our solutions can help expand emotional intelligence.