15 Ways to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Wanting to boost your Emotional Intelligence? Here are 15 ways to improve your Emotional Intelligence and some tips to help you hone in on these skills.

You may be wondering what exactly Emotional Intelligence is and why it matters. Emotional Intelligence, also known as Emotional Quotient or EQ, refers to being able to manage how you interact with others by being aware of your emotions, how your actions are perceived, and showing empathy.

Why does this matter? Now more than ever it is imperative to be sensitive to others in order to communicate and work together effectively. Emotional Intelligence skills can be applied when interacting with coworkers, friends, and even family members.

Improving Emotional Intelligence can make a huge difference in your life. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that you will be more respected and valued by showing respect for others.

1. Consider How Your Actions Affect Others

This is what I consider to be the foundation element of Emotional Intelligence. When we take a moment to consider our actions’ impacts, we can open our minds to a whole new thought process. Not only do our actions impact ourselves, but also significantly determine how we interact and relate to the world around us. In this sense, it is also inherently important that we take responsibility for our actions, even if they have consequences. This approach to life allows us to be caring, compassionate, and effective communicators.

2. Be Empathetic

Think of this as putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s so much easier to understand the best way to approach a situation when we can observe factors at play in another person’s life. We all face different struggles and challenges. Being open to the idea that someone is going through an obstacle you may not completely understand shows a huge amount of respect for their needs and will make communication a lot easier.

3. Be Conscious of Nonverbal and Verbal Signals

As explained in my previous post, “How to Look Confident Even When You’re Not,” body language has a huge impact on how we are perceived by others. With Emotional Intelligence, we can take this a step even further. Be conscious of your body language, tone of voice, and positive use of eye contact to show others that you are being receptive and care about the situation at hand.

4. Look for Emotional Cues

Just as our nonverbal communication can be interpreted by others, we also can use these cues to get a sense of how another person is feeling. By using this skill, we can get an idea of how we can approach a given situation and support each other. Picking up on the needs of others can significantly impact the way our words and actions are perceived. If this is an area you struggle with, reading can be a great way to get some insight. It allows access to the mind of the narrator and decipher what emotions others’ behaviors may be indicating.

5. Be Open-Minded

One of the easiest ways to boost your Emotional Intelligence is by treating every interaction as if it were a brand-new experience. Preconceived notions can be a big hindrance in terms of how we relate with others. In addition to being open to experiences, be open-minded to others’ feelings and values. Making space for others is a great way to show respect for them and goes a long way when striving for effective communication.

6. Listen

Listening can play a huge part in effective communication and interactions. When others are given the chance to speak and be heard, it allows them to feel less stressed, insecure, or misunderstood. For this skill to be executed effectively, it’s important to actively listen and not let preconceived notions fill in the blanks. Be receptive, be respectful, and show others that you care about what they have to say. In doing so, you can help to shift their mood and have a more positive interaction.

7. Respond Positively to Others

This skill centers around selectively choosing your words and being conscious of how you present what you want to say. The words we use and our tone of voice can make a big difference in terms of how others will interpret the meaning behind the message.  Keep in mind the old saying that “You can attract more flies with honey than vinegar.” Take your time, speak with intention, and be mindful of how you would respond if you were in their shoes.

8. Show Appreciation

A great tool for strengthening Emotional Intelligence is by recognizing the efforts of others. When we show our appreciation, it strengthens our ability to effectively communicate with one another. By taking the time to affirm to someone that their actions matter, it really says that they are valued, they are recognized, and they have made a positive difference. We can also look at this skill in terms of showing an interest in others. By getting to know them and allowing others to share their insights, it says that we value their knowledge and experience. This simple act can go a long way in building and strengthening relationships.

9. Promote Clear Communication

Developing this skill can vary in its applications. Clear communication can come in the form of giving and receiving information, being available when you have a lot on your plate, or knowing when it’s the right time to address certain issues. By applying this skill in your interactions with others, it shows empathy and approachability.

10. Do Not be Overly Critical

When practicing Emotional Intelligence, it’s important to be able to give and receive criticism effectively. Many people can be offended or anxious in these situations, my former self included. When providing feedback, do so while being mindful of how your message will be interpreted as well as the fact that your delivery can significantly impact the outcome. When receiving input, be open-minded and do your best to remember that feedback is often an opportunity for growth.

11. Have a Constructive Mindset

In any given situation, it can be easy to get bogged down by our interpretations. By using a constructive mindset, we can find many opportunities for growth rather than repeating the same scenarios or blaming others for the outcomes. Learn from past experiences and move on rather than dwelling on them. Developing Emotional Intelligence takes time. No one is born with these skills and we all must work to master and incorporate this concept into our lives.

12. Find Common Ground

When trying to relate to someone else, it’s ok to be vulnerable. Vulnerability shows that you can be humble and will help to break down any perceived barriers impacting your ability to communicate with one another. Opening up and sharing similar experiences you’ve had or being honest about your feelings can be a great way to come together.

13. Keep Your Emotions in Check

Triggers are things or scenarios that make us uncomfortable and we all have them. When we come from an emotional place and react to outside stimuli, it’s easy to lose sight of how our actions affect our behavior. By identifying these feelings and recognizing where they come from, we can be more in control of the situation.

We are all human and our emotions can be a beautiful thing. The key is to respond and not react. The next time you feel yourself losing control, take a moment to pause and remember that you are bigger than your emotions. By practicing being self-aware and managing our emotions, we can significantly alter the way we interact with the people around us.

14. Stay Calm Under Pressure

This can often be so much easier said than done! But trust me, as a former Motor Vehicle clerk, this was one of the most important skills when de-escalating a situation and coming back to common ground. Not only can this be used in terms of outside influences but inside pressures as well.

When we’re feeling stressed, it’s easy to lose sight of how we are perceived and the best ways to interact with others. Remember that positivity breeds positivity, just as negativity breeds negativity.

Giving yourself a moment to breathe, approaching the situation from a place of compassion for others, and regularly practicing meditation can all be extremely helpful when navigating challenging moments.

15. Observe Emotional Intelligence Skills in Action

Another great way to learn how to improve your Emotional Intelligence is by learning from others. Is there someone in your life who seems to be a naturally gifted communicator? Pay attention to how they present themselves and interact with others to learn how to emulate their behaviors in your own life.

On the flip side, maybe you know someone who gets angered easily, is not respected by their peers, or struggles to be an effective leader. Knowing what not to do can be just as important as recognizing what is effective.

Final Thoughts

While there may be many ways to improve your Emotional Intelligence, start small to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Focus on one area or skill that you would like to work on and soon you’ll be on your way to incorporating many of these practices into your life.

Remember that you don’t need to master all of these Emotional Intelligence skills in a day. Life is about figuring it out as you go along. You may come to find that it takes a lifetime of practice. I know I’m still learning and growing every day!

Image credits: Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

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