Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Intelligence

Both in business and in our personal lives, emotions can be difficult to manage. Often, we judge our own thoughts and feelings more harshly than anyone else. This can be detrimental when left unchecked, leading to a mindset of anxiety and doubt. Emotional intelligence can be challenging to grasp, but with hard work and new habits, you can begin to understand your feelings and leverage them to your advantage.

The Oxford Dictionary defines emotional intelligence as “the ability to understand your emotions and those of other people and to behave in an appropriate way in different situations.” Basically, emotional intelligence boils down to the way we think and feel about ourselves and others in the world. It determines how we react, how we interact, and how we stay connected to ourselves and our motivations.

The 5 Components of Emotional Intelligence

1. Self-Awareness

When a person is self-aware, they are in touch with their moods, thoughts, motivations, and reactions. They know what they feel and work to understand why they feel it.

Self-awareness also includes noticing how you are perceived by others. Emotionally intelligent people can recognize how others interact with them and adjust their behaviors to achieve a desired result.

2. Self-Regulation

Emotionally intelligent people take ownership for their actions. Instead of searching for people to blame when things go wrong, they can admit when they have made a mistake.

Self-regulation also means being able to respond constructively when others are angry or upset. Rather than becoming defensive and retaliating, an emotionally intelligent person will take a moment to reflect. They can think about what they say before it is said, and know how to appropriately express themselves in different social situations.

3. Motivation

Emotionally intelligent people can motivate themselves and take initiative. They have a genuine interest in self-education, and put in the work to better themselves for their future. Instead of relying on external accountability, they know what motivates them and can set personal goals.

An emotionally intelligent sense of motivation also includes dedication and commitment when challenges arise. Rather than quitting in the face of adversity, emotionally intelligent people can reassess and create new plans of action to get things done.

4. Empathy

An emotionally intelligent person takes an interest in how others think and feel. Instead of feeling threatened by, judged by, or in competition with others, they can appreciate people's differences and make connections with them. They can observe their actions, be empathetic to their mindset, and withhold judgement when necessary.

Emotionally intelligent people can also anticipate the emotional responses of others. They can understand why people feel the way they do and look at the world with a developed comprehension of social norms. This is especially valuable in building lasting, meaningful relationships with the people around you.

5. Social Skills

Emotionally intelligent people know how to communicate effectively. They can detect sarcasm and jokes made by others, and offer appropriate responses. Since they are able to find common ground with new people in different social settings, they are generally easy to talk to.

Habits of Emotionally Intelligent People

Want to boost your emotional intelligence? Here are some habits you can start right now!

Practice mindfulness

Make mindfulness a priority in your life. The only way to become emotionally healthy is by fully knowing your emotions and working to understand where they come from.

Find a practice like yoga, meditation, or journaling where you can dedicate time to getting in touch with yourself. Use that time to observe your thoughts, be mindful of the way you feel, and practice withholding judgement.

Pro tip: find something that's fun to you. Just because someone says a habit is helpful doesn't mean it's one-size-fits-all. If you hate writing, don't make yourself journal! Think about what comes naturally, and discover the ways it can help you to practice mindfulness.

Accept & consider criticism

When someone offers you constructive criticism, take it into consideration. Instead of getting defensive or doubting yourself, hear them out. You don't have to follow their advice, but be open to the opinions of others. This keeps you from existing inside a vacuum without anyone or anything to bounce ideas off of.

Receiving criticism is also a great way to practice your self-regulation. Even if the words sting, be grateful for the chance to reflect on what was said to you. Do with the criticism what you will, but regulate your reaction and allow the other person to be heard.

Take responsibility

Take ownership for your actions, especially your mistakes. Rather than playing the un-winnable blame-game, accept responsibility and learn when things go wrong. Acknowledging room for improvement is a sign of emotional maturity that allows you to continuously grow and change!

Move on

When you hit a bump in the road, it's okay experience some negative emotions. But avoid dwelling on sadness or anger or anxiety. Feel your feelings, give them space, and move on with your day.

Emotionally intelligent people can find constructive ways to deal with intense negative emotions. Work on building your coping skills and finding ways to turn your mood around when things get tough. Write a plan of action in your journal, take a walk to clear your thoughts — just get yourself out of that mindset and into a more productive place!

Reflect often

Set aside time to reflect, whether it's the end of every day or the end of every week. Take stock of your goals, your wins, your moods, and see how your habits are affecting your mindset.

Practice being able to use these reflections to motivate yourself. Assess your wins for the week, celebrate them, and ask yourself how you can continuously improve.

QOTD: How do you practice emotional intelligence?

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