I am a big fan of emotional intelligence (EQ) and believe it’s a game changer for your life and career. In a previous article, I defined emotional intelligence as:

“The ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you”.

One of the core principles of EQ is the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions and to use that information appropriately. For example, recognizing emotional intelligence in oneself can help you regulate and manage your emotions while recognizing emotions in others can lead to empathy and success in your relationships, both personal and professional.

Research

In 1990 Yale psychologists, John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey claim that EQ is an inborn characteristic, while others suggest that it can be cultivated and trained. I am convinced that it is a mix of both similar like leadership. The fundamental principle in EQ is that you should control your feelings, instead of letting it control you. Here are:

7 Ways to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence:

  1. Think before you act. It’s easy to get carried away and respond without actually listening. In a confrontation, give yourself really time to digest what is being said before you respond. Often times it’s the emotion that responds not so much the person.
  2. Your body is the best indicator. An increased level of anxiety or stress while driving to work every day may be a clue that your job is a source of frustration. Look for patterns and listen to your body. Ignoring these emotions consistently can cause problems like depression or burn-outs.
  3. How do I feel today? A question you should ask yourself several times a day and rate your overall sense of well-being on a scale of 1 to 10. Journal these scores and analyse them so that you can connect the scores with specific circumstances or events that occured.
  4. Write thoughts and feelings down. Journaling works. In line with point 4, research has shown that writing down your thoughts and feelings can help profoundly. Start every day by writing down things you’re grateful for. This way you start your day with a positive mindset.
  5. Balance inward analysis and outward response. Don’t dwell too long on negative or positive feelings. EQ is about understanding your emotions and then shifting your focus to outward actions. Research has shown that dwelling too long on negative feelings can amplify these feelings. Emotional intelligence involves not only the ability to look within but also to be present adjust course where needed.
  6. Practice precedes mastery. It’s impossible to have perfect control over your emotions. Keep practising these steps daily and be aware of your emotions, this way you can let your emotions work for you instead of against you.
  7. Find an innercircle that you trust. It’s important to have an innercircle that can give you feedback on how your behaviour makes other people feel. People seldom realize that others are able to judge how they are feeling. Ask your innercircle how you are coming across.

How EQ will boost your Career?

Decades of research points to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. TalentSmart tested emotional intelligence alongside 33 other important workplace skills, and found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58 percent of success in all types of jobs.

…”Of all the people we’ve studied at work, we’ve found that 90 percent of top performers are also high in emotional intelligence. On the flip side, just 20 percent of bottom performers are high in emotional intelligence. You can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but the chances are slim.” (source www.talentsmart.com)

A higher EQ is directly linked to a higher salary. Studies show that people (regardless of industry, level or geography) with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money, an average of $29,000 more per year, than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence.

EQ drives your Health

People who fail to manage their emotions are twice as likely to experience anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and even thoughts of suicide. Numerous research has linked emotional intelligence and susceptibility to disease. This actually makes sense, because if someone can’t handle their emotions, feelings of stress and anxiety are easy to take over your body. As a result this can impact your immune system with bigger impacts for your health. This change in your immune system increases your vulnerability to an attack.

Conclusion

Being aware of your emotional intelligence and strenghtening it on a daily basis pays off. It has a big contribution to your career, relationships and your health. Even though there might be some inborn characteristics of EQ, everyone can practice the above mentioned excercises to build up your EQ. Practice makes perfect.

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