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Boost Your Emotional Intelligence With These Simple And Incredible Techniques

Boost Your Emotional Intelligence With These Simple And Incredible Techniques

We’ve all experienced challenges in life that test our emotional intelligence. It’s usually a time when we feel disconnected from others, confused by what is happening, or our emotions got the better of us.

Emotional intelligence is a skill that can mean more connection with the people in your life and a higher ability to cope with these challenging situations. When you read people well and respond in a way that helps everyone feel comfortable, you are onto a good thing. Your relationships are not only more satisfying, you are more likely to make that business deal and deal with that conflict situation in a calm and rational manner.

We could all do with more tips on how to boost our emotional intelligence, so here it is: five things emotionally intelligent people do, that you can practice, too:

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They are aware that working with others is a strength, not a weakness

If you’re emotionally intelligent you’re aware of both your weaknesses and your strengths, and accept both wholeheartedly. You know yourself well enough to understand that having weaknesses is normal; so you are not afraid to ask a colleague for help in order to get the job done. If you’re able to admit defeat and ask for guidance, you can see working as a team and sharing your vulnerability as a strong move. Sharing your problem just became an opportunity for you to grow.

They can take a hit

No one likes being criticized for anything, and most people will react on some level, to a critique of their work. The difference between someone who is emotionally intelligent or not, is, that they will process their emotions differently. They are more self-aware when reacting, manage any unpleasant emotions better, and this could be because they more aware of what might be going on for the person doing the criticizing, able to connect with that reality. Once they have taken a step back and processed their emotions, they can more easily look at the reality of whether the criticism can help them to improve whatever it is they are doing, or not.

Failure doesn’t phase them

Similarly, failure affects everyone, but if you’re emotionally intelligent, you will move on from setbacks quicker and more efficiently than someone who is stuck in self-criticism and doubt. They tend to have an unfaltering self-belief that means they are confident no matter the obstacle or problem, they will still succeed. This means they are less likely to get too upset about the small stuff, and to carry on doing what they love without worrying too much about it.

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They bring the good feeling, even when things are looking dire. They keep their cool outwardly and end up being the kind of people want to follow as a result.

The next time you have a setback, notice what you think about it, and how it makes you feel. If you can spot any self-criticism, change the direction you’re heading in. Try telling yourself instead, that you know this sucks, but at the end of the day, you know you can do it, no matter the obstacle or challenge.

“What was that?…”

When emotionally intelligent people are misunderstood or misheard, they don’t get into a fluster. -It is their aim to communicate effectively with their audience, and nothing will hold them back from getting their message across. So you change your plan instantly to meet their needs. Even when the projector you have been working with breaks down, or you spill coffee down your shirt, or even turn up to an interview in filthy clothes, you get your message across and end up with people appreciating you even more as a result.

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Next time you’re caught off guard, try improvising and enjoying the moment, instead of worrying about what ‘went wrong’. This builds rapport more than any planned interactions ever could.

They see actions and not reactions

Emotionally intelligent people see what actually happens in a conflict, not a blurred version with their judgments mixed into their interpretation of what happened. They are aware of what they felt at the time, but they do not let that color what they actually saw. They know how to take social cues from others at the time to inform them of what’s best to do, and they know how to manage those strong feelings in the moment, so that they don’t get out of hand, and can be calm enough to find a resolution. So next time you find yourself in the middle of a conflict take a deep breath, connect to your feelings first and react from a place of calm to what’s happening.

They’re connected to themselves

Emotionally intelligent people do not rely on the approval of others, nor do they heed their doubtful or negative thoughts.

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Having trained as a computer programmer, I learned early on the principle of ‘garbage in, garbage out’. While this works for creating websites, it also works with our own mental health. The beliefs we choose to believe or the unconfident people we spend our time with can have a huge effect. Sometimes we can’t avoid certain people, but we can add to the amount of positive people we surround ourselves with. So next time someone says something that leaves you feeling unsure of yourself, check your own opinion about it, before believing it to be true.

Connecting to your inner knowing can help free you of worry about what anyone else is saying or doing, and allow you to get on with your life’s work.

I hope these quick tips will help you to practice more emotional intelligence in your own life, so that you feel more able to be yourself, to put your whole self in your work, and to connect deeply with those around you.

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Daniel Owen van Dommelen

Coder, Director, Writer, Human

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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