How do you improve your own emotional intelligence? Special guest: David Freedman of PEAR Core Solutions, Inc.
In a previous post, we explored how Self-Awareness (paying attention to your emotions) and Self-Regulation (the extent to which you allow your emotions to guide your actions) is the basis of emotional intelligence, and we also discussed why you should even care about this subject at all. We are now going to focus on how you can raise your levels of emotional intelligence by exploring additional aspects of emotional intelligence and providing methods for improving your skills.
This usually conjures an image of someone sacked out on the couch watching soaps mid-day. If you ask this person why they aren’t motivated, they may blame others (for example, “nobody will hire me,” “I can’t afford college,” “everyone I date has flaws”). That sounds like someone not taking accountability for their own actions (and you are not entirely wrong in thinking that). However, this may be the sign of someone who feels unable to cope with life’s challenges or who truly believes they are not in control of their own destiny.
Raise your motivation skills:
- Do you ever feel like you are not accomplishing anything? Try recording your accomplishments each day. This will serve as a reminder of all you can do, and all the value you bring to others or to work.
- Do you ever feel pessimistic (be honest!)? A good way to snap yourself out of a pessimistic mindset is to remind yourself to quickly think of something optimistic. A good way to do that is to look for the humor in a situation (there is almost always humor in a situation – you just need to find it).
- Are others bringing you down? Are you surrounded by positive people? You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends and you can frequently choose the situations in which you place yourself.
Most people hear this word and they think of sad situations. A family member, friend, or co-worker comes to you with a problem and you lend them your time, you show them you care, and perhaps you offer some helpful advice. The danger in seeing empathy this way is that it limits the situations in which you may see empathy as being important. In fact, empathy is required in every interaction – and that includes written communication! You just have to look for it by asking yourself a very simple question: “If I were the other person, what would I want from me?”
Raise your empathic skills:
- At a restaurant? Look up at the waiter and show that you are paying attention when he or she is talking to you. Bonus points for smiling.
- Sending an email or a text? Ask yourself how you would feel being on the receiving end of that message. Would you like the tone, the length, the way it’s organized? Would you understand it?
- Walking down a busy sidewalk? Do you swing your arms far in back of you while you walk? Would you like to be the person walking behind you?
This comes hand in hand with empathy, because successful communication with others cannot happen without consideration for the other person. Whether listening or speaking/writing you must do it in such a way that shows respect for the other person.
Raise your communication skills:
- Someone else talking? Give them your full attention and try not to get distracted (either by others, by technology, or simply losing your concentration).
- Need to say something? Allow for space between the other person talking and you chiming in. Ensure others know that you are not simply listening for your turn.
- Are you still talking? Be cognizant of the need for others to also provide their input.
This one pulls it all together. If you are not aware of your own feelings and emotions and cannot regulate your actions, if you are constantly negative, if you don’t acknowledge the importance of others in your day to day interactions, you are going to be challenged in creating and keeping relationships.
Raise your relationship management skills:
- Someone need something? Don’t just give people what they ask for or what you think they need. Be generous (or offer to be more generous), and that includes in how you give your time.
- Out and about? Look for opportunities to make a connection with others, no matter how small. Ask a store clerk a question (yes, even about the weather), and say hello to that neighbor you often see.
- Are you “available” to make connections? Most of us have forgotten that our ears will still work if they are NOT connected to headphones. Nobody will talk to you and you will not talk to others as long as you are plugged in. Take a break now and then, and you may be surprised at how many more conversations you will have.
THIS SOUNDS LIKE A LOT OF WORK!
I could say “just be yourself” and you’ll be fine. However, if being yourself means (to you) that you will continue to ignore emotional intelligence and just do what you’ve always done, then..... Changing any of your habits takes time and energy, but it takes less and less of both as you practice and get better at your new habits. These are skills like any other skill you’ve learned throughout your life, and it is never too late to learn them! If striving for greater emotional intelligence gives you a little more resilience to stress, allows you to enjoy life a little bit more, if it makes your relationships (personal and professional) more enjoyable and more fruitful, isn't that worth a try? We're all in this together, so together we can help each other raise our emotional intelligence!