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5 Ways to Increase Emotional Intelligence

5 Ways to Increase Emotional Intelligence

increase emotional intelligence

EQ is perhaps the most important indicator for a person’s success. It’s what makes you able to connect with others, express yourself well, sell effectively, and identify your strengths and weaknesses. That’s why you need to increase your emotional intelligence.

What is EQ?

The term Emotional Intelligence, a.k.a. EQ originally came from psychologists Mayer and Salovey. It’s the awareness of your emotions and those of others, and the ability to manage them. Mayer and Salovey believed it was related to the following traits:

Self-Awareness – Your knowledge of your thoughts, strengths, weaknesses, blindspots, habits, and personality.

Self-Regulation – The ability to control your emotions in a range of situations.

Self-Motivation – Your ability to align your motivations with those of a team or community.

Empathy – Your ability to experience and validate the emotional values of others.

Why Does EQ Matter So Much?

Up to 90% of the world’s top performers in business demonstrate high levels of EQ.

Recently I had to turn down a team member for a promotion that they’d repeatedly asked for. This person was loyal, reliable, and good at their job. So why didn’t I promote them?

The answer: no one wanted to follow them. This person came across as rash, disagreeable, and had a dictatorial style of leadership. In other words, they lacked emotional intelligence, particularly empathy and self-regulation. They were very knowledgeable and sharp, but people seldom care how much you know until they know how much you care.

This is a prime example of how shortcomings in emotional intelligence can hinder you. It was one thing that they were skilled in their position, but I had to turn them down for leadership because their frustrations would’ve put a burden on everyone underneath them. 

“People seldom care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Since then, this person has made significant improvements in their EQ, and I’m very proud of them for that. However, had I not said anything, this person may have never become aware of the true source of their professional setbacks. This is where most people are today. They’re sabotaging themselves by not engaging with others well, and the people around them either don’t have the understanding to correct them, or they don’t want to say anything.

You don’t have to be this person. You can increase your EQ and become the person that everyone wants to follow and spend time with. 

By following these 5 Principles to increase emotional intelligence, you can see tremendous breakthroughs in any area of your life.

1. Express Empathy

Empathy is the ability to see from another person’s perspective. You don’t have to agree with someone in order to empathize, rather you need to comprehend their framework and understand what rules they’re playing by.

This includes treating someone as they would like to be treated. Empathetic people are courteous and sensitive to other peoples’ desires and feelings. To some of you, this may sound touchy-feely, but I’d argue that everybody wants to be treated this way, and you’re not the exception. All of us have sensitivities and desire to be treated with respect, and we all have our own ideas of what is insulting. Empathetic people are aware of this and are constantly trying to honor these things.

Here’s a tried-and-true way to practice empathy: if someone is sharing something with you and you think you disagree, say, “Can you help me understand?” Simply be sincere about trying to understand where that person is coming from. 

2. Use Approachable Posture 

I’m a high D personality on the DiSC. This can make my tone and posture be a lot more aggressive than I mean them to be. While my brain is usually saying, “Tell me more!”, my body can still be saying, “Keep your distance.” Even when your intention is to help, crossed arms, hard stances, and resting stink faces will communicate the opposite.

This is why you should always make sure your posture matches your emotions. This comes harder for some of us than others. I personally have to intentionally relax my posture, soften my tone, and mirror the facial expressions of the person I’m trying to communicate with. It takes effort, but it’s worth it every time.

3. Fight to Understand, Not to Win

Listening to other people will make them many times more likely to like you and listen to you. Trying to beat them in an argument has the opposite effect. 

I’ve missed out on connecting with people so many times because I wanted to share my idea or quick fix, while the other person simply wanted to connect. So if you want to increase emotional intelligence, practice talking 20% of the time and listening 80%. 

4. Build Bridges Not Ditches 

At JPI, this is one of our team mottos. We do it to remind each other to always seek common ground and a win-win way forward. Most people are always looking for why something can’t work, and what’s wrong with someone who’s different from them. They dig a ditch to plant themselves deeper into their own opinion in order to validate themselves. 

If you’re known for digging your heels in, other people simply won’t want to engage with you. However, if you’re always thinking in your head, “How can I find common ground?” you will connect with a large and diverse set of people. This is also a great way to increase emotional intelligence at an increasingly accelerated rate.

5. Count to 10 or You’ll Have to Do it Again

Anger and frustration are normal, but it’s a bad idea to let them determine your next move. Instead of doing something you’ll regret, step outside and take 10 deep, slow breaths to find some center. You’ll save yourself from reacting out of emotion and blowing up. Then, you can come at the problem from a place of reason and develop a win-win situation.

Increase Your Emotional Intelligence Every Day

Since using these practices for increasing emotional intelligence, I’ve seen strong returns in my income, opportunities, and overall relationship satisfaction. That’s why I’m convinced that if you put these 5 principles into practice, you will attract new opportunities and partners and advance in your life.

For more information on how to accelerate your relationships and grow in EQ, check out our E Books. Right now the Journey Principles Institute is giving away our entire library for free, so take advantage and get as much life-changing knowledge that you can!

Emotional Intelligence Quiz – Test Your EQ

Emotional Intelligence Quiz – Test Your EQ

EQ Test, journey principles

Emotional Intelligence (a.k.a. EQ) is a higher indicator of success than perhaps any other metric, including IQ. Emotionally intelligent people experience higher levels of happiness, relationship satisfaction, and financial stability. Emotional intelligence also makes you less likely to have conflict with others and more likely to be able to have healthy conflict when it happens.

At its core, EQ is about knowing yourself. It’s also about being skilled at putting the feelings and needs of those around you above your own. Emotionally intelligent people are able to control themselves regardless of what somebody else is doing. They are aware of their internal world and the emotional states of those around them. 

So is emotional intelligence set, or can it be learned? The answer is the latter. EQ is a skill that you can grow in. You just have to know its components, identify where you’re strong and weak, and make intentional effort every day to become more aware of yourself and others.

Emotional Intelligence – Internal vs External 

Emotional intelligence can be broken down into two basic categories. Internal EQ is about self awareness: understanding your own moods, attitudes, beliefs, emotions, triggers, and behaviors. External EQ is about the awareness of other people. It involves manners, reading people, understanding dynamics, and your ability to listen and make adjustments according to what others want and need.

It’s likely that you came into this world with a natural bent towards internal or external EQ. It’s rare that someone is naturally skilled in both. People that are well-rounded almost always get there through intentional practice. 

Within both internal and external EQ are two subcategories. Internal EQ includes self-regulation and situational self-awareness. External EQ includes relationalawareness and social presence. Let’s break these down.

Internal EQ

Category 1: Self-Regulation

We define self-regulation as a broad understanding of yourself and the ability to change. It’s the foundation of emotional intelligence.

People skilled in self-regulation are aware of their own beliefs, emotions, and habits. They have a healthy understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. Part of self-regulation is checking in with your mind and body as a habit. Another equally important part is being honest with yourself about what you see. 

The determining factor of self-regulation is your willingness to be wrong and held accountable. Unless you are willing to face yourself and own the areas in your thought life that need to change, you won’t be able to self-regulate. You’ll be unwilling to truly see your thought life for what it is, much less be willing to take responsibility and make a change. One way you know if you’re willing to do this is if you are open about your thoughts with people you trust. If you can own your negative thoughts and intentions openly, you can do so with yourself and make changes. 

Another mark of high self regulation is an expansive mindset. Self-regulators take responsibility when things don’t go their way. They don’t focus on blaming others, nor do they beat up on themselves. Instead, they ask what they can learn from every situation, good or bad, and adjust accordingly.

Rate yourself honestly on a scale of 1-10 on the following statements to assess your current level of self-regulation:

  • I know my motives very well.
  • My strengths and weaknesses are known and well-defined to me and my trusted circle.
  • Catching and identifying negative thoughts is easy for me.
  • I’m able to quickly change my attitude and my mood. 
  • If asked, I could write down the top 10 values and beliefs that I live by.
  • I am aware of at least 5 of my bad habits and am taking active steps to change them.
  • When things go wrong, I take responsibility rather than shift blame.

Category 2: Situational Self-Awareness

This subcategory of emotional intelligence is about understanding how you interact with others in particular contexts. It’s a form of self-regulation, though it’s more specific to your awareness of yourself when you’re interacting with others, particularly during conflict.

Understanding your triggers is a key component to high EQ. You must exercise self-control, rather than be reactionary. Negative situational self-awareness looks like being defensive, aggressive or passive aggressive in conflict. In contrast, being able to roll with the punches and find common ground is a sign of high situational self-awareness.

To determine your current level of situational self awareness, rate yourself honestly on a scale of 1-10 for each of the following sentences:

How good are you at pausing in a situation before reacting? 

  • When I’m offended, I consider my words and actions before saying or doing anything.
  • I’m aware of at least 5 of my triggers with others and am able to control myself when they happen.
  • I know how I come across when I’m angry or hurt.
  • Owning my mistakes with others I trust and those I offend is something I regularly do.
  • If I’m confronted, I do not get defensive. I listen and apologize for what I’ve done wrong.
  • I have clear boundaries in my relationships and am able to articulate and stick to them.

External EQ

Category 3: Social Presence

Social presence is mastery over your body language and tone, as well as your ability to shift your external behavior when different situations call for it. The difference between this and situational self-awareness is that social presence has more to do with your external habits and presentation, rather than the inner world of your thoughts. 

Most people have a limited range of situations where they can engage well. For instance, some know how to act at a dinner party vs a casual get-together with friends, while others wouldn’t know the difference. Some people are fun and enjoyable when in a group, but if you get them one-on-one they will have no clue how to engage with the other person.

Rank yourself 1-10 for the following statements to measure your social presence:

  • I maintain an open and confident posture. 
  • Reading others’ body language and mimicking mine to theirs is natural for me.
  • My tone of voice is calm and pleasant.
  • I know and practice etiquette in all situations (parties, weddings, interviews, get-togethers, first interactions, etc.)
  • Even if I’m not feeling happy, I can put my feelings aside and be engaging with others.
  • Smiling is my default.
  • I enjoy small talk and can talk with anyone.

Category 4: Relational Awareness

Whereas social presence focuses on manners and good habits in your communication, relational awareness focuses on your skill in nurturing deep and ongoing relationships. It’s the type of emotional intelligence that allows you to significantly understand the person across from you and treat them according to their unique needs.

To gauge your relational awareness, give yourself a score from 1-10 for the following statements:

  • When someone is talking to me, I maintain eye contact and give them my full attention.
  • I follow up with people.
  • Other people’s lives are genuinely interesting.
  • In most of my interactions, I ask questions more often than I make statements.
  • When someone does something for me, I send a thank you email or send a thank you card.
  • I’m aware of others’ emotions and know what to do to make them feel better.
  • I remember birthdays and special occasions. 

Your Emotional Intelligence Score

To assess your emotional intelligence, add up your scores under each section for your total score. 

  • Weak: 0-56
  • Below Average: 57-112
  • Average: 113-168
  • Above Average: 169-224
  • Excellent: 225-280

Did you score “average” or below? Don’t be discouraged! You can get to above average or excellent emotional intelligence with practice and effort! If you scored “above average” or “excellent”, congratulations! However, keep in mind that you always have room for improvement. Also, keep in mind that people with high self-regulation are less likely to rate themselves “excellent”. Self-aware people understand their weaknesses and are probably not satisfied with their level. So if you scored “excellent”, be careful that you were honest with yourself. 

Regardless, share this test with someone you trust and grade each other! You will likely learn something about yourselves and one another and have a stronger bond because of it. 

Meanwhile, if you’d like more information on how to grow in emotional intelligence, check out our free ebooks. The Journey Principles offers material to help people be their best selves and go from stuck to unstoppable in their careers and relationships.

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