Emotional intelligence is a suite of “soft” but essential skills that allow us to understand our emotions, empathize with coworkers, and keep cool during stressful situations.
But what can you do if your emotional skills are lacking?
The good news is that emotional intelligence can be strengthened and developed through self-reflection and coaching. Emotional Intelligence: Your Foundation for Success is a workbook intended to help you build your skills and develop a deeper understanding of your emotions, and how to manage them.
Below are three science-backed exercises from our book to get you started:
1. Practice Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is the ability to understand yourself, your emotions and what causes them, as well as their effects. Being self-aware means you can differentiate between subtleties in emotions and articulate the differences.
We all feel our emotions, but it can be difficult to articulate or label what we’re feeling. By learning to identify them, we can develop strategies to react appropriately.
We suggest tracking your emotions on an ongoing basis using a journal.
Over the next two weeks, use the Plutchik Wheel to identify and articulate how you feel in various situations, and look for patterns.
After you’ve done this, take some time to reflect. What did you learn? Were some types of emotions more prevalent than others? For example, did you feel emotions that were more positive (love, happiness) or negative (anger, fear)?
What will you change, if anything?
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2. Increase Your Self-Regard
Self-regard is linked to self-esteem, and refers to our availability to have consideration for ourselves, including accepting our strengths and weaknesses. People with higher self-regard tend to be confident and self-assured as a result.
We cite an exercise from Dr. Jennice Vilhuaer that suggests changing your self-talk to focus on the positive. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Notice the critic. Take note each time you have a critical thought about yourself. What are the patterns that emerge? What are the words you most frequently hear?
- Free yourself. Name your critic and start to recognize that it isn’t you talking. It’s the negative voice.
- Dispute the message. Rather than having a negative thought and letting it negatively affect you, replace the message. If the voice is telling you that you can’t do something, refute that and think, “I can do what I put my mind to.”
- Replace the message. Learn to reframe the negative messages using positive language. If you tend to think, “I can’t,” or “I won’t,” start to say “I can” and “I will,” and focus on solutions. Take note of how you feel. Make it a habit.
3. Develop Your Empathy
We’ve all been in situations where we didn’t “get” where the other person was coming from. These scenarios can be difficult to diffuse because we’re unable to put ourselves in their shoes and remove ourselves from how we’re feeling long enough to consider the other person’s perspective.
When this happens, it’s helpful to take a step back and consider whether we’re seeing things from all perspectives.
In our book, we suggest the following steps to help you see things from a different perspective:
- Assess your assumptions
- What are your beliefs?
- What are your expectations?
- What are the facts?
- Expand your thinking
- What’s possible?
- What has worked before?
- What haven’t you tried yet?
- Get perspective
- What would you do?
- What do you see?
- What would others do?
Use the questions above to help guide you through a situation where you’re stuck, or where you don’t quite see eye to eye. Then, reflect on what you’ve learned.
Develop Your Emotional Intelligence Today
Developing emotional skills is critical for success, happiness, and well-being in a fast-paced society. By taking the time to reflect, learn, and grow, you can apply your emotional intelligence to build and maintain trusting relationships, manage stress, and make thoughtful decisions.
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