The Ultimate Guide for Developing Emotional Intelligence

Last Updated on March 12, 2023 by Milton Campbell

Being self-aware and understanding how to handle your emotions is an integral part of building relationships with colleagues, clients, and other people in your life. In today’s post, we’re exploring the skill of developing emotional intelligence and sharing some ideas you can use for improving in this area.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Some of you may be asking “What exactly is emotional intelligence?” Emotional intelligence is our ability to perceive our emotional state and that of others. It enhances relationships by enabling us to understand what’s going on in others’ minds, especially concerning feelings and motives.

Building strong relationships is vital to success in any field and emotional intelligence – or emotional quotient “EQ” – can be valuable in developing these relationships. Basically, having high emotional intelligence means being able to walk in someone else’s shoes. 

Not only is emotional intelligence important for building relationships and getting along with others but it also helps you get to know yourself better and increases personal growth. Often we are our own worst enemies but developing emotional intelligence will allow you to have more control over your emotions.

Characteristics of Strong Emotional Intelligence

Self-Awareness is the ability to see who you are and accept it. When you’re self-aware, you don’t project out a version of yourself that isn’t true to your real self. You are aware of your emotions.

Emotional Control is a Skill that enables you to keep your emotions in check regardless of what’s going on around you. I know it’s not always easy to control your emotions but it is a skill that can be built and will help you keep a clear head and make better decisions during emotional times.

Motivation is strongly associated with emotional intelligence. People with a high EQ tend to stay motivated longer. Have you ever had a co-worker or a friend that let every single thing bother them? I bet they were not very motivated.

Empathy is your ability to feel and understand other people’s feelings. It’s an invaluable skill that will allow you to be more effective in business and your relationships.

Social Skills are the skills we use to communicate effectively with other people. They help us forge relationships, get the best things in life, and positively impact society.

Developing Emotional Intelligence

As you can see from the characteristics of emotional intelligence, really EQ can be broken down into two categories: How we recognize and deal with our own emotions and how we recognize and deal with others’ emotions. First, we will discuss tips for developing emotional intelligence for our feelings.

Tips for Developing Emotional Intelligence With Your Feelings

  1. Self-Evaluation

The first tip is self-evaluation because it’s important to know where you’re at right now. Take a look in the mirror and start thinking about where your emotions are now. Are there times when you overreact or maybe under-react? 

  1. Keep a Journal

A journal is a great way to track what is going on in your life and your emotional state. That’s not the only thing journaling is good for though. It can also be very therapeutic. It is a way for you to get things off your chest and help you think things through.

  1. Recognize and Avoid Emotional Triggers

We all have emotional triggers. They can be either positive or negative. These negative triggers are the ones you need to be aware of and try to avoid as much as possible. Triggers can be people, things, or even situations. For example, a messy house can be a trigger that puts you in a bad or sad mood. So that would be something you want to avoid.

  1. Name Your Emotions

When you add a name to your emotions it helps you realize when you are experiencing that emotion. When you are getting angry stop and tell yourself you are getting angry. 

  1. Observe How You React

Many times when we let our emotions take control, we react in a way that may not be best for the situation. Take a moment to reflect on how you normally react to sad news or even exciting news. Is this how you want to react? If not realize it the next time you are in that type of situation and try to change it. This may be tough at first and feel forced, but if you stick with it, it will become natural.

  1. Look at the Bright Side

This is sometimes easier said than done but every bad situation has a bright side. Find that silver lining. Even if it’s just a lesson to be learned from a failure. Not to get all cliche on you but if you start looking at the glass half full good things will come. This change in mindset is a huge step toward a happier you.

  1. Relax

Relaxation is vital to keeping your mind healthy and happy. I’m not saying to use this tip as an excuse to sit around and do nothing all day but take some time each day to relax and let the stressors of the day drift away even if it’s only for a few minutes. 

A great way to relax and clear your mind is through meditation. Click the link to learn how to effectively meditate to reduce stress and clear your mind.

  1. Exercise

Exercising is a great way to not only improve your physical health but also your mental health. In fact, a 2010 study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine shows that exercise can help fight depression, at least in mice. In fact, exercise can help with all sorts of things including memory improvement and pain management.

Your muscles release chemicals called endorphins that act as natural painkillers and make you feel good about yourself. Exercising also releases hormones like dopamine and serotonin that can improve your mood and boost your energy. If you would like help getting started check out this link for more information on how to build your exercise routine.

  1. Eat Better

Much like exercising, eating right is very important for both physical and mental health. There are different types of diets, but the best advice is to eat the right proportions for you and avoid processed foods, sugar, and excess carbs. I prefer to keep it simple and not try to overcomplicate things too much. For more information on proper diets check out this article.

  1. Build Resilience

Resilience is having the courage to get back up when you’re knocked down. It’s about learning from setbacks, accepting them as challenges instead of failures, and it’s about knowing that you are not your mistakes and that failure is a stepping stone to success. 

In the Air Force, we learn about four pillars to build strong resilience. These pillars are mental, physical, social, and spiritual. If you would like to learn more about building resilience you have to come and check out my article on the four pillars of resilience

Tips for Developing Emotional Intelligence With Other People’s Feelings

  1. Understand How Your Emotions Affect Others

Our emotions have a huge effect on others. I’m sure many of you have noticed that when you are grumpy or mad, those around you become grumpy or mad. When you are happy and smiling others tend to be happy and smile. Just a simple smile and hello can be enough to make somebodies day. 

  1. Listen

Listening is more important than talking many times. Too often we are thinking about what we are going to say next instead of listening to what the person we are talking to is saying. This can make it seem like you and the other person are talking two different languages. 

Listening is also a great tool for making somebody feel a lot better. When someone is telling you how bad their day is, they are not necessarily looking for advice. They just want to get it off their chest. Be that sounding board for others and let them know you care.

  1. Understand What Motivates Others

What motivates and inspires you, may not be the same thing that drives others. Many different things can drive people. Power, money, and pride are just a few motivators. 

Understanding what motivates others can be a great tool when talking to others. This can be used to help get them in a better state of mind, making them happier and more productive.

  1. Build Rapport

Rapport is when two people have created a connection through effective communication. Typically, the stronger rapport there is between two people, the stronger the relationship is. Rapport is something that builds over time but that doesn’t mean you can’t build rapport with someone you just met. 

One of the best ways to build rapport is to find common ground with people. This can mean shared experiences or interests or even similar experiences or interests. Learning to build rapport effectively is a strong skill for communication, if you would like more info on how to quickly build rapport, check out my article on mastering your communication skills.

  1. Learn Body Language

Body language is a form of non-verbal communication. It can say a lot about how others are feeling. Even if their words are completely different. For example, if you ask someone how they are doing and they say great but they are frowning and not their typical happy self, they are probably upset or sad about something. 

Your subconscious mind already picks up on a lot of these cues but learning to consciously spot them can help you get a better understanding of people and their true feelings. Understanding body language will boost your social skills, making you a better listener.

  1. Be Interested

Taking interest in what is going on with other people is not only a great way to build rapport but also shows them that you care. This means you have to listen. For example, if someone is out of work because they had a dentist appointment, ask them how it went when they return. Take an interest in what is going on with others’ lives instead of being consumed by what is happening in your own life.

Be empathetic and sincere. Don’t just ask them how their day is and drift off when they start telling you about something that’s bothering them or something that excited them. It all goes back to being a good listener.

  1. Open Yourself Up

One of the best ways to get someone to open up to you is to open yourself up first. This may mean telling them something that you are embarrassed about or something that makes you sad. When you show a person that you trust them enough to open up to them, they may begin to trust you enough to open up to you.

  1. Think About How They Feel

Put yourself in their shoes. For most people, this means thinking about how you would feel in their situation but that may not necessarily be how they are feeling. We are all built differently and we handle things in our way. So instead of thinking about how you would feel, think about how they feel and how they are handling it. It may be completely different than how you would handle a situation but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong.

  1. Be There

Be there means being available. We all have busy lives but it can make a world of difference to a person that you took five minutes out of your day to let them vent to you.

  1. Help Others

Always offer to help others in any way you can. It may mean offering a listening ear or it could simply mean helping them reach their personal development goals. Look for opportunities to guide others as well as listen to them. We build our legacies through what we leave others behind, physical and mental.

Wrapping it up

Developing emotional intelligence is something anyone can do. There may be setbacks but if you keep building this skill the results will astound you. 

Build up your emotional intelligence by understanding your emotions and the emotions of others to see many doors open up in your life. You will make more friends, and have better relationships with family and work colleagues leading to more happiness and success in life. 

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