We need IQ and we need EQ. We need intelligence and we need emotions. Strengthening your emotional intelligence takes commitment, discipline and a genuine belief in its value. With time and practice, though, you’ll find that the results you achieve far outweigh the effort it took to get there.
Here are four strategies:
1. Get feedback
You can’t work on a problem you don’t understand. A critical component of emotional intelligence is self-awareness – this is the ability to recognise and stay cognisant of behaviours in the moment. Whether you engage in a 360 assessment or simply ask a few people what they observe, this step is critical in heightening your sense of what you do or don’t do. And don’t just find excuses for your behaviour. That defeats the purpose. Rather, listen to the feedback, try to understand it and own it.
2. Beware of the gap between intent and impact
Those with weak emotional intelligence often underestimate what a negative impact their words and actions have on others. They ignore the gap between what they mean to say and what others actually hear. Regardless of what you intend to mean, think about how your words are going to affect others, and whether that’s how you want to them to feel.
3. Press the pause button
Having high emotional intelligence means making choices about how you respond to situations, rather than having a knee-jerk reaction. There are two important pauses to take: pause to listen to yourself, and pause to listen to others. Listening means helping others feel like you’ve understood them (even if you don’t agree with them). It’s not the same as not saying anything. It’s simply giving others a chance to convey their ideas before you jump in.
4. Wear both shoes
People often suggest you “put yourself in the other person’s shoes” to develop empathy, a key component of emotional intelligence, but you shouldn’t dismiss how you feel. You need to wear both shoes – understanding both your agenda and theirs, and seeing any situation from both sides. In association with Harvard Business Review