Emotional intelligence (EQ or EI) is one of the strongest indicators of success in business. Why? EQ is not only the ability to identify and manage your own emotions, but it’s also the ability to recognize the emotions of others.
This study by Johnson & Johnson showed that the highest performers in the workforce were also those that displayed a higher emotional intelligence. And according to Talent Smart, 90% of high performers in the workplace possess high EQ, while 80% of low performers have low EQ. Simply put, your emotional intelligence matters.
Many of my clients often come to me frustrated with their managers, ready to quit because of the poor relationship they have with their boss. When I listen to what’s going on, it’s usually that these leaders aren’t demonstrating high levels of emotional intelligence. Don’t let that be you!
Here are five ways to develop your emotional intelligence.
1. Manage your negative emotions. When you’re able to manage and reduce your negative emotions, you’re less likely to get overwhelmed. Easier said than done, right? Try this: If someone is upsetting you, don’t jump to conclusions. Instead, allow yourself to look at the situation in a variety of ways. Try to look at things objectively so you don’t get riled up as easily. Practice mindfulness at work, and notice how your perspective changes.
2. Be mindful of your vocabulary. Focus on becoming a stronger communicator in the workplace. Emotionally intelligent people tend to use more specific words that can help communicate deficiencies, and then they immediately work to address them. Had a bad meeting with your boss? What made it so bad, and what can you do to fix it next time? When you can pinpoint what’s going on, you have a higher likelihood of addressing the problem, instead of just stewing on it.
3. Practice empathy. Centering on verbal and non-verbal cues can give you invaluable insight into the feelings of your colleagues or clients. Practice focusing on others and walking in their shoes, even if just for a moment. Empathetic statements do not excuse unacceptable behavior, but they help remind you that everyone has their own issues.
4. Know your stressors. Take stock of what stresses you out, and be proactive to have less of it in your life. If you know that checking your work email before bed will send you into a tailspin, leave it for the morning. Better yet, leave it for when you arrive to the office.
5. Bounce back from adversity. Everyone encounters challenges. It’s how you react to these challenges that either sets you up for success or puts you on the track to full on meltdown mode. You already know that positive thinking will take you far. To help you bounce back from adversity, practice optimism instead of complaining. What can you learn from this situation? Ask constructive questions to see what you can take away from the challenge at hand.
Emotional intelligence can evolve over time, as long as you have the desire to increase it. Every person, challenge, or situation faced is a prime learning opportunity to test your EQ. It takes practice, but you can start reaping the benefits immediately.