Experts used to believe that IQ or Intelligence Quotient (the capacity to score high on tests of knowledge and skills learned at school) was the best predictor of success; the more facts you knew, the more likely you were to excel. But we now know that EQ or Emotional Quotient (the ability to manage yourself and your relationships) is a better predictor. In other words, straight As won’t get you very far unless you know how to get along with yourself and others.
Why? Because the better you can navigate social situations, the more apt you are to get what you want, even if you never did very well in the classroom. And this is about getting what you want, right?
Here are six ways to start increasing your emotional intelligence right now:
Take excellent care of yourself
You must be well rested to execute the self-discipline and focus required to enhance your emotional intelligence. This means making sure to get enough sleep, eat reasonably well, exercise sufficiently, protect yourself from people and environments that drain you, and keep your mind adequately stimulated. This also means breaking away from work whenever necessary to take the edge off, have fun and recharge yourself.
Get comfortable with negative aspects of yourself
Emotional intelligence requires that you see your whole self, not just what you want to see. This means accepting that you can’t be right all the time, liked by everybody, or perfect. When you’re aware of your own limits and vulnerabilities, you are open to constructive criticism as a way to advance yourself. And other people will gravitate toward you because you’re humble and open-minded rather than arrogant or defensive.
Seek to understand
Emotionally intelligent people are usually life-long learners who thrive on continually expanding their perspective through new and illuminating experiences. A sure way to connect with others is by putting your judgments aside, then stepping into their shoes and seeing the world from their side of the street. When you move beyond your own restricted viewpoint and appreciate where someone else is coming from, your world feels richer and more interesting. You begin to think and face problems with greater dexterity and you find solutions more easily. The more you expose yourself to the ideas of others, integrating only the ones that really call you, the less likely that your job or home life will become stale, and the better you’ll be at adapting to change.
Slow down and think
Emotionally intelligent people know that their true power lies in carefully considering how to respond to internal impulses and external demands. When you step away to contemplate possible strategies and consequences rather than react mindlessly, you make better decisions and stay on course with your goals. The other advantage of thinking before you act is that you can calm down and get perspective rather than lash out irrationally when someone or something upsets you.
Galvanize the strengths of yourself and others
Emotionally intelligent people are aware that everything goes more smoothly when we apply the best in ourselves and encourage others to do the same. If you contribute your innate talents to the world, instead of going against the grain by doing what doesn’t flow, you will feel increasingly comfortable and confident. And when you allow others to lead from their own natural gifts, you gain their cooperation and collaboration.
Make emotional intelligence a practice
Boosting your emotional intelligence is a never-ending process because life is unpredictable and there will always be new challenges. The advantage of being an adult is that you’re old enough to know that you will never get your life exactly right and that’s okay. You will have good days and bad days, surprises will interrupt even the best laid plans, and you will make mistakes as you strive to be more self-aware and socially influential. But if you make it your daily priority to manage yourself and take genuine interest in others, regarding your failures as valuable lessons, you’ll be more resilient than most adults, and better able to make the impact you want.
Want to become more emotionally intelligent? Consider participating in our upcoming new series Boosting Your Emotional Intelligence for Career (and Life) Advancement, facilitated by Amy Wood, Psy.D.
Phycologist Amy Wood has helped countless adults from all walks of life and work to articulate and accomplish their own versions of success. From her encouraging perspective that every human being is a unique and valuable individual with the inner resources necessary to overcome any challenge, Amy facilitates growth and change through speaking, writing, consulting and one-to-one sessions. Visit the author online at www.amywoodpsyd.com