Five tips to develop your Emotional Intelligence (EI)
In today’s business world, people need to be Emotionally Intelligent – deal with problems, cope with change, lead by example, take the initiative, handle difficult situations and develop good relationships with clients. EI is a powerful means of communicating effectively, building relationships and creating a positive working environment.
Developing Emotional Intelligence is all about being self-aware and aware of others. This involves lifting your head from the task in-hand and looking to see what is going on around you.
In the past, emotions were often associated with weakness and instability and were encouraged to be controlled and kept hidden. However, research is emerging that emotions are essential for motivating actions which are critical for adapting to challenges of survival or well-being, both personally and professionally.
We experience many types of emotions in our daily lives such as fear, anger, enjoyment, disgust, interest, surprise, contempt, shame, sadness and guilt. These emotions become much stronger during times when our values and beliefs are compromised by ourselves or others. However, in order to function professionally, we often have to temporarily manage these emotions to encourage smooth communication or avoid conflict in the moment. But managing these emotions does not equate to ignoring them, as this can, over time, take its toll and lead to stress, with true personal feelings leaking through the mask.
Here are some ideas to help you develop your own emotional intelligence:
Listen to your own emotions – they are offering you some very important information about your instinctive feelings about people and situations and will give you some real clues as to whether the person or situation is making you feel a certain way. This information will allow you to assess whether this person or situation is possibly in conflict with your values or beliefs. This process of naming the feeling may reduce an impulse reaction against them or the situation.
Pay attention to how others are feeling – sometimes when handling a task we are focused on how we are feeling, but we may be causing some uncomfortable emotions and feelings within the person we are communicating with. Stop and ask some open questions as to what they think or how they feel about what you have just said. This will give you some time to assess if you are on the right track and whether you are still engaging them or not.
Notice moods – notice how some people make you feel more energised than others. Think about why that is happens. Do you share similar values or beliefs? If so, you can leverage this good mood and bring it to your next meeting or encounter, which will allow you to further create a positive mood in others around you. Good moods are contagious most of the time, as are bad moods! Don’t underestimate the power of your mood in your work, as it is contagious and can be the deciding factor as to whether people actively want to work with you or not.
What is behind the emotion – when you meet an emotional response, such as someone being angry or sad, before you react, think about what may be behind such a response. This can be difficult if it is aimed at you, but most of the time, it is not about you at all. Be mindful of your own emotions and how you respond to different emotional situations. Be honest with yourself to determine your strengths and weaknesses, and how they might affect others. Work to take responsibility for all of your actions. Be open-minded, and stay positive in different business scenarios.
Managing our emotions – If you feel angry or upset in a situation where it would be inappropriate to display negative emotions, work out some coping strategies that will allow you to channel that emotion to a more appropriate place. This may involve removing yourself from the situation when the time is right or talking to someone you can trust about your frustrations.