Developing Emotional Intelligence

The communication between your emotional and rational “brains” is the physical source of emotional intelligence. The pathway for emotional intelligence starts in the brain, at the spinal cord. Your primary senses enter here and must travel to the front of your brain before you can think rationally about your experience. However, first they travel through the limbic system, the place where emotions are generated. So, we have an emotional reaction to events before our rational mind is able to engage. Emotional intelligence requires effective communication between the rational and emotional centers of the brain.” Copied. Moral here: use your mind before you act.

In our work and/or personal lives we happen meet people who: Good listeners, Good talkers (know what to say and how to say it) without causing any offense, are caring and considerate, outgoing and cheerful, control their anger and aggressiveness, committed to others, look at themselves honestly, accept criticism, and handle problems and anxiety calmly. All these wonderful traits arise when there is a high EI in place. People like those above know themselves very well, are able to control their own lives and get along easily with others sensing and understanding others’ emotional needs and outcomes. Would you like to become one of them? By learning how to enhance your emotional intelligence, you are one step closer to becoming an emotionally smart person. Here are a few ideas that would help you out.

  1. First, why not to check your current status? Many books and tests are available to help you determine your current EI, and identify where you may need to do some work.
  2. Once you identify what is missing, start a daily journal. Writing down your thoughts can improve your self-awareness and facilitate following up the development progress. Writing it down will help you understand what you did, why, how did it make you feel/ act? What did you do well? What could you improve on? Just reflecting on this every day, will enhance your self-awareness, the way you handle your emotions and how to act against others’ emotions.
  3. Practice to control yourself and do not rush into things acting on the pulse. Do you get provoked very quickly? How do you behave when things go wrong? You must learn how to calm yourself down and remember that you can always choose how you react to it. Try to de-stress and distract yourself from negativity in the way that soothes you the best. Try to change your posture, stand up if you are sitting, get off the car if driving, think of the old ‘count to ten’ technique, or think of something else to delay action. The emotive part of the brain should pause a bit, allowing the rational portion to take charge.
  4. Practice not to rush into judgment, for example, when you get angry in a situation, try first to find whose fault it was and whether you are blaming others or they really deserved your anger. Know all the facts and then try to put yourself in their place, are you going to do the same as what they did or they are still guilty? If they are not, then be more open and accepting of their perspectives and needs.
  5. Learn how to read others’ body language. Start by observing how other people react and relate upon hearing good news and bad news. You’ll be able to deduce their respective emotions quite easily and pick up some emotional cues.
  6. Stop taking things personally especially in the work place. Criticism can be constructive and allows you to improve professionally and personally. Ask whoever giving you feedback, what is his/her suggestions to fix whatever issues he/she thinks you have/make.
  7. One great way to enhance your emotional intelligence is by reaching out. People won’t always tell you when they’re upset or when they’re frustrated. Listening to other problems and sufferings, understanding what it is that made that person feel a certain way, can help you look back on these incidents and know what to expect should a similar situation occur in future.
  8. Respect cross-cultural changes when you deal with different cultures. Examine how your ideas or actions affect them. Learn to think about and appreciate what they are saying and the background/reasons behind it.
  9. Seize the benefit of introducing some humor. Without having this cross the limits being understood as mocking or disrespect, try to add a sense of light humor to the conversation that will ease the situation and help matters not to spark.

These are some of the ways by which you can enhance your emotional intelligence. The more you practice them, the better you will be at handling everybody’s emotions and yourselves as well, until it becomes a habit and a skill. And as they say Repetition is the mother of skill.