Recognizing and managing your emotions is as important as your thinking and rational skills. You'll benefit from high emotional intelligence to best maintain healthy relationships in your personal life and handle stressful situations.
Unlike intellectual intelligence, which many curricula embrace, emotional intelligence is something people are often left to figure out. Apart from personal situations, emotionally intelligent people also tend to thrive in the work environment. As a result, their empathetic nature serves as a driving force in building stronger relationships.
In this article, you’ll discover new ways to develop emotional intelligence. You’ll also gain more understanding of the components of emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a person’s ability to recognize, understand and manage their emotions. Through this understanding, a person with high EQ can make better decisions - even when a stressful situation arises.
Apart from being an internal endeavor, emotional intelligence also helps people understand the impact or effects of their emotions on others. This way, you don’t only overcome stress but also gain relationship management skills.
By recognizing your emotions and feelings, you make better life choices that also positively impact you. You can better manage emotional peaks, troughs, and outbursts and identify your emotional triggers through emotional intelligence. All these help you maintain a positive attitude while properly channeling your emotional energy.
Another aspect of emotional intelligence entails recognizing and engaging with others’ feelings. This way, your emotional intelligence or emotional quotient raises not just self-awareness but social awareness as well.
On the one hand, intellectual intelligence measures logic and one's ability to grasp complex ideas. On the other hand, emotional intelligence measures the ability to recognize emotions and use the knowledge to guide decisions.
Beyond personal relationships, communities and workplaces have a growing need for empathetic people. This releases the heavy focus on technicalities by identifying empathy and people skills' role in successful endeavors.
To build healthy relationships personally and in workspaces, one of the most important soft skills is emotional intelligence. As a result, developing emotional intelligence is extremely important as it contributes to long-term success.
Today, emotional intelligence is one of the leading indicators of your own success and professional success. Many organizations and studies recognize the importance of emotional and self-awareness. In fact, many organizations today will value an emotionally intelligent person over one who isn’t. Someone who can manage their own emotions and respect those of others will exhibit greater empathy, confidence, and leadership qualities.
A study of 358 managers revealed that the highest performing managers have more emotional competence than others1. This places emotional intelligence as one of the key skills for successful management.
People with high EQ are better equipped to manage others because managing people entails understanding emotional needs, practicing empathy, and regulating emotions. Through self-management, one can better engage in people management.
Together, these skills help in building strong relationships and also maintaining relationships. People with such social skills are also better equipped to influence others and engage in conflict management. All of these contribute to building fulfilling relationships in the workplace and beyond.
Emotionally intelligent people also know how to maintain assertive communication. This way, their self-confidence shines through as they communicate their opinions and needs. In the same vein, they practice their communication skills while respecting other people. This further pours into their ability to show empathy and maintain personal relationships.
An emotionally intelligent individual can recognize their own feelings and remain calm in stressful situations. They don’t allow negative emotions and negative feelings to cloud their ability to pursue their goals.
Instead, self-awareness serves as a guiding light for an emotionally intelligent individual. By being self-aware, the person can recognize emotional cues and curb negative emotions. This way, such a person can work through their own issues while they stay calm and practice self-control.
To thrive in life by improving emotional intelligence, it helps to understand the components of emotional intelligence. Improving emotional intelligence is a life-long practice. As a result, paying attention to its fundamental aspects or components can help you gain insight into areas for improvement or ongoing development.
Some people may be naturally attuned to specific components, while others need to learn and develop them. Below are the key components to aid the development of emotional intelligence:
Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence. Many of the other aspects depend on one being self-aware. In simple terms, self-awareness is a person’s ability to recognize emotions, moods, character, and feelings. This then pours into understanding the effects of these states on other people.
When you’re self-aware, you’re in a better position to understand your own emotions and the behavior they trigger. In the same way, you can regulate your feelings to avoid outbursts.
Self-awareness puts you in the present moment. We all experience emotions, feelings, and varying moods. However, someone with high self-awareness can recognize their emotional state, how it triggers actions, and its effects on people. It’s easy to see how self-awareness is a crucial component of emotional intelligence and a necessary life skill.
Self-awareness primarily deals with recognition, while self-regulation deals with management. As a result, these components work hand in hand.
Self-regulation is one’s ability to manage personal emotions and behaviors. After being aware of your own feelings and emotions, you need to keep them in check. We can control negative emotions and disruptive impulses with proper management.
When in tense situations, people with strong self-regulation can recognize their emotions and feelings and use this knowledge to pause and breathe. This is just what they need to remain calm and act from this balanced state rather than being impulsive. When you practice self-awareness and self-regulation, it also helps to keep your mental health in check.
Self-motivation constitutes the personal skills aspect of emotional intelligence. It entails the drive or force you have to do and achieve things.
People with a high level of emotional intelligence are usually self-motivated. As a result, they don’t wait for external inspiration before they act to pursue certain goals. Self-motivation allows them to channel an inner drive to achieve their goals and stay committed to them.
Self-motivated people are also usually open-minded, love a good challenge, exhibit enthusiasm and a growth mindset, and are ready to act on opportunities. They can recognize what they need to do to get from one point to the next. At the same time, they stay aware of the emotions that drive them.
Social awareness, with empathy being the main aspect of it, is our ability to recognize and understand people. Apart from being aware of your own emotions, emotional intelligence also requires certain social skills.
Empathy puts you in the position to identify with and understand the emotions, feelings, and needs of others.
Apart from understanding these emotions and feelings, an empathetic person is usually motivated to improve people’s experiences. People can build better relationships by identifying with people’s emotions and seeking to improve their situation. This is a lifelong skill that allows you to respond to others in an emotionally appropriate manner.
Related read: Compassion vs Empathy: The Difference and Why They Matter.
Social skills refer to a wide range of skills that allow one to handle, manage, and influence other people’s emotions effectively. People with such skills tend to be effective and efficient team players. They can meet people easily, influence positive change, communicate effectively, and manage conflict.
These skills are important aspects of our daily lives, whether it’s work-related or personal. Social skills signify emotional intelligence as they help us master interacting with others while building rapport. People with strong social skills tend to understand others. As a result, they can use this knowledge to gear people toward a common goal.
Can emotional intelligence be developed? Although some people naturally exhibit certain aspects of emotional intelligence, anyone can learn emotional intelligence skills. Apart from understanding the components, you can also apply tips to develop and improve emotional intelligence. Below are 11 ways to develop emotional intelligence.
With self-awareness being an important aspect of emotional intelligence, it only makes sense for it to top the list.
Recognizing your emotions and other people’s emotions is a key step if you want to improve emotional intelligence. This entails careful awareness of what’s occurring in the moment and knowing how to navigate whatever comes up. When you’re aware of your emotional responses, it becomes easier to respond carefully.
This tip puts you in the position to practice observing how you feel in situations. It also prompts you to pay attention to feelings that trigger specific actions. By recognizing the emotions of others, you can respond better and cautiously.
Self-evaluation allows you to take an all-around view of yourself. The first step here is to recognize that you’re not perfect. This way, you can begin to identify the areas that need improving.
Through self-evaluation, you can also recognize your progress. Such a practice puts you in the position to identify your strengths and weaknesses. If you wish to be in charge of your development, then you need to prioritize this practice.
In many organizations, people call this self-assessment. However, instead of viewing it strictly in the work sense, take a holistic approach. This will improve emotional intelligence by identifying areas to manage emotions better.
Sometimes you just can’t see everything as it is. As a result, asking for feedback from people around you benefits your growth. Being open to feedback means you’re willing to improve in certain areas.
Practicing this skill also builds self and social awareness. It puts you in the position of taking criticism from others and examining yourself from another lens. When people see that you take feedback well, it also helps in building relationships.
Feedback is usually specific to certain situations and spaces. You can practice asking and receiving feedback in the workspace and also in personal spaces. This fuels overall growth and allows you to monitor emotions arising from feedback.
One of the challenges many people face is a lack of listening skills. This often creates conflict, whether that’s within the home or office space. It’s important to remember that people communicate in various ways. As a result, it’s crucial to pay attention to the cues in communication.
Every day and in various interactions. When you practice active listening, you can better recognize changes in tone, body language, and other communication means.
Listening also builds respect in relationships. It tells the other person that you value them and what they have to say. A simple practice is to listen to another person’s opinion without immediately reacting. Take time to observe their gestures and reactions before responding.
Some people avoid taking responsibility or owning up to avoid facing the consequences of their actions. However, one way to improve emotional intelligence is to own up. This starts with recognizing and taking responsibility for your feelings. Then, it pours into taking responsibility for the behavior that comes from you.
Once you begin to own up to these things, it has a chain reaction that positively impacts your life. It also communicates to people around you that you’re self-aware and, therefore, someone who’s willing to grow.
Nobody’s perfect, which means you may experience outbursts or impulsive reactions. However, the difference lies in recognizing such situations and making amends.
Communication is a big aspect of our lives. We communicate all the time, whether verbally or nonverbally. Often, a lack of effective communication leads to conflicts in various spaces. When people don’t understand one another and also aren’t intentional about it, it can create enmity. In this light, developing strong communication skills is crucial to improve emotional intelligence.
With such skills, you can recognize when and how to deliver information. You can pay attention to people’s moods and know when to say the right thing at the right time.
Effective communication builds trust, mobilizes people towards a common goal, and supports problem-solving—all of these foster stronger relationships.
Studies show that successful organizations have managers who communicate clearly with the people2. This results in positive outcomes such as enhanced creativity and a greater sense of belonging. Within organizations, communicating clearly also fosters team spirit and boosts productivity.
Understanding others' emotions is an integral part of emotional intelligence. As a result, this is something always to pay attention to. It’s important to pay attention to or recognize how other people feel. It shifts from a hyper-focus on yourself to considering others.
When you’re empathetic, you listen to other people’s needs. This merges with active listening by putting you in a position where you pay close attention. Instead of talking with people to react, listen carefully to what they say.
Allow yourself to absorb what they’re saying, consider how they feel then respond. This practice also entails putting yourself in another person’s shoes to get their perspective.
When people are under pressure, there’s the tendency to react impulsively. This could translate to yelling at others or letting your emotions get the best of you. In many situations, such reactions can negatively affect the people around.
For someone who’s emotionally intelligent, however, they can remain calm in such situations. The reason for this is that they have a good level of awareness. This awareness allows them to see the complete picture, including the feelings that are arising.
Subsequently, they can pause, breathe and evaluate a situation before responding. Although it can sometimes seem hard to be calm in tense situations, practicing makes it easier. Not only does it help you come up with logical solutions, but it also prevents triggering negativity in others.
One of the greatest lessons we can learn is knowing how to manage our emotions. Recognizing them is one thing, but they’ll get the best of us without proper management skills.
People employ various emotion management strategies when faced with challenging situations. Working with your emotions, identifying triggers, and physical changes will give you better control. So, how do you avoid reactive outbursts? How do you shift certain changes into positive outcomes? Below are some popular methods people employ:
People with high-level emotional intelligence are often able to motivate themselves. This goes beyond waiting to get inspiration from external sources. Instead, it puts you in charge of achieving your goals by setting realistic objectives and embracing positive thinking.
To remain motivated, you need to be prepared to embrace lifelong learning. Staying motivated also entails being open to receiving help from others. When you have an inner drive to achieve your goals, there’s a certain level of readiness when opportunities arise. Set targets for yourself and examine the kind of person you want to be. Then, take note of what you need to do to get to where you want to be.
Being emotionally intelligent also means being an open-minded person. People with high emotional intelligence can understand various perspectives and be open to new ideas. Such people are also approachable due to their level of social awareness and social skills. This makes people become naturally drawn to them as they offer a welcoming space.
To improve emotional intelligence, you need to practice being a more open-minded person. This involves being a good listener, considering various perspectives, and knowing how to respond to people. When people notice that you communicate clearly as well, they become drawn to engaging with you.
Opening yourself up to connecting with people is a great way to enhance your emotional intelligence. Embrace curiosity about people, engage actively, and listen carefully.
Emotional intelligence is a key life skill. Although one can’t deny the role intellectual or general intelligence plays, we also need to prioritize building emotional intelligence. This relational skill helps us grow as individuals, develop healthy relationships and stay focused on our goals.
Cavallo, K. & Brienza, D. (2001). Emotional Competence and Leadership Excellence at Johnson & Johnson: The Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Study
Hargie, Owen. (2016). The Importance of Communication for Organisational Effectiveness. 10.17990/Axi/2016_9789726972556_015.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.