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Last Updated on January 6, 2020

What Is Emotional Intelligence (And How to Develop It)

What Is Emotional Intelligence (And How to Develop It)

Many experts now believe that a person’s emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) may be more important than their IQ and is certainly a better predictor of success, quality of relationships, and overall happiness.[1]

    It’s interesting to note how the concept of emotional intelligence has evolved over the years, from its inception as something called “social intelligence” all the way back in the 1930’s, to “emotional strength” in the mid-20th century, to its current terminology, “emotional intelligence.”

    But what exactly is emotional intelligence and why is it important?

    What Is Emotional Intelligence?

    Emotional intelligence (EI) is, in layman’s terms, our level of ability to:

    • Recognize and understand our emotions and reactions (self-awareness)
    • Manage, control, and adapt our emotions, mood, reactions, and responses (self-management)
    • Harness our emotions to motivate ourselves to take appropriate action, commit, follow-through, and work toward the achievement of our goals (motivation)
    • Discern the feelings of others, understand their emotions, and utilize that understanding to relate to others more effectively (empathy)
    • Build relationships, relate to others in social situations, lead, negotiate conflict, and work as part of a team (social skills)

    The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

    If you think emotional intelligence is only important for those who always have to interact or communicate with people, think it again. Emotional intelligence is a gateway to a balanced-life. It’s essential to basically every aspect of life:

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    Physical Health

    The ability to take care of our bodies and especially to manage our stress, which has an incredible impact on our overall wellness, is heavily tied to our emotional intelligence. Only by being aware of our emotional state and our reactions to stress in our lives can we hope to manage stress and maintain good health.

    Mental Well-Being

    Emotional intelligence affects our attitude and outlook on life. It can also help to alleviate anxiety and avoid depression and mood swings. A high level of emotional intelligence directly correlates to a positive attitude and happier outlook on life.

    Relationships

    By better understanding and managing our emotions, we are better able to communicate our feelings in a more constructive way. We are also better able to understand and relate to those with whom we are in relationships.

    Understanding the needs, feelings, and responses of those we care about leads to stronger and more fulfilling relationships.

    Conflict Resolution

    When we can discern people’s emotions and empathize with their perspective, it’s much easier to resolve conflicts or possibly avoid them before they start. We are also better at negotiation due to the very nature of our ability to understand the needs and desires of others. It’s easier to give people what they want if we can perceive what it is.

    Success

    Higher emotional intelligence helps us to be stronger internal motivators, which can reduce procrastination, increase self-confidence, and improve our ability to focus on a goal.

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    It also allows us to create better networks of support, overcome setbacks, and persevere with a more resilient outlook. Our ability to delay gratification and see the long-term directly affects our ability to succeed.

    Leadership

    The ability to understand what motivates others, relate in a positive manner, and to build stronger bonds with others in the workplace inevitably makes those with higher emotional intelligence better leaders. An effective leader can recognize what the needs of his people are, so that those needs can be met in a way that encourages higher performance and workplace satisfaction.

    An emotionally savvy and intelligent leader is also able to build stronger teams by strategically utilizing the emotional diversity of their team members to benefit the team as a whole.

    Emotional intelligence is still not completely understood, but what we do know is that emotions play a very critical role in the overall quality of our personal and professional lives, more critical even than our actual measure of brain intelligence.

    While tools and technology can help us to learn and master information, nothing can replace our ability to learn, manage, and master our emotions and the emotions of those around us.

    How to Develop Emotional Intelligence

    Emotional intelligence is not something inborn, there are ways to take control of your emotions. Here’s how:

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    1. Observe Your Feelings

    We easily lose touch with our emotions when we’re too busy worrying about what to do next and what can be done better. Instead of really taking good care of our emotions, we choose to ignore them most of the time. What we don’t realize is that suppressing our emotions only makes things worse. The more we try to put our emotions behind, the more uncontrollable our emotions become.

    When we have an emotional reaction to something, it can be due to the fact that we’re having some unsolved issues. So next time when you feel like having some negative emotions, calm down and think about why you’re experiencing this. Take a deep breath and write down the emotions you’re experiencing and the possible reasons.

    When you have things written down, you can identify your emotions triggers and think of ways to deal with each of them. Learn more about this here: How To Control Your Emotions Effectively

    2. Practice Responding, Not Reacting

    Reacting is an unconscious process where we behave in an unconscious way that expresses or relieves an emotion. Responding is a conscious process that involves paying attention to your feelings and deciding how to behave.

    When you’re more aware of your emotional triggers, you can always think about the way to behave in advance.

    For example, if you know that you get angry easily and throw temper to colleagues when you’re feeling very stressful at work, take note of that and think about what you can do next time when you’re experiencing the same trigger. Maybe you can try to tell your colleagues that you need some silent moments because you’re feeling stressful at the moment, or maybe you can get a few minutes of alone time just to calm down yourself first.

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    3. Stay Humble All the Times

    When you always believe that you’re better than others, you’ll not see your own faults, and you’ll likely to get emotional about things that don’t meet your expectation.

    Try to look at the same thing from a different perspective. Instead of judging someone or something, put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to think or feel like them: would you do or feel the same too and why?

    In this way, you’re likely to understand other people’s thoughts and emotions more; and you’ll probably learn something new about how to deal with stuff in similar situations too.

    Be humble enough to know you’re not better than anyone, and wise enough to know that you’re different from the rest!

    Final Thoughts

    Emotional intelligence can be learned, it’s a lifetime process. It’s never too late to learn anything, it just takes continuous observation and practice. So no matter how old you are, you can still take up EI and make the rest of your life better and happier.

    More About Mental Strength

    Reference

    [1] Dr. Travis Bradberry: Emotional Intelligence Statistic

    More by this author

    Royale Scuderi

    A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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    Last Updated on April 6, 2020

    10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

    10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

    Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

    Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

    Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

    So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

    1. Be Authentic

    To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

    Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

    Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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    2. Listen

    Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

    To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

    Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

    Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

    3. Become an Expert

    Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

    You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

    4. Lead with Story

    From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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    If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

    5. Lead by Example

    It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

    ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

    We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

    6. Catch People Doing Good

    A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

    Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

    7. Be Effusive with Praise

    It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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    Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

    8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

    I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

    The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

    If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

    9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

    The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

    The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

    If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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    10. Understand Your Lane

    If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

    Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

    You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

    Final Thoughts

    Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

    It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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    Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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