Tips for building Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence for women

In the latter half of the 20th century pretty much the time I was growing up, all that mattered was your IQ. A high score in school-college-university was a mark of success, your life was set so-to-speak and that in turn meant that your parents had done a good job. The 21st century has seen a paradigm shift from IQ to EQ. Today human behavior is considered more important as compared to traditional academic excellence. Research done by the Carnegie Institute of Technology documents that IQ attributes to only 20% of your success, with a whooping 80% of success being attributed to EQ.

Today human behavior is considered more important as compared to traditional academic excellence.

Corporate world was taken by storm following the release of Daniel Goleman’s book on Emotional Intelligence in 1995 where he established a direct relation between Emotions and Performance. Emotions are regulated in the brain resulting in low or high performance. I can vouch for this concept as it plays out in my own organization, Icreon, where clearly people with very high levels of EQ are often, much more successful than people with high levels of IQ especially as they evolve into managerial roles.

Compelling huh? Fortunately for us, EQ is a trainable skill. I can’t promise to make you an expert but the rest of this article does layout some easy steps on how to build on your EQ. Let’s begin with first understanding what is EQ.

Daniel Goleman defines Emotional Intelligence (EQ being the casual shorthand) as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships”. Simply put, it is the ability to understand our own emotions and that of others to manage ourselves and our relationships better.

While there is a lot of study on the art and science behind emotional intelligence, I am going to touch upon a few insights that’ll serve as tips for anyone interested in tapping into their EQ –

Know Thyself

They say knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. One of the most difficult things for us to do is to acknowledge and accept our own limitations. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses not only helps in understanding areas of improvement but also helps in better decision making, you are less likely to make mistakes or over commit and hence be more confident to take on responsibilities. Not being able to deliver on a commitment at work is worse than not committing in the first place. This does not mean that you don’t take risks; it simply means that you are more aware while taking on challenges and hence better prepared to face them.

While there are many self-assessment software tools available that can help understand your personality type, the most effective and natural way of gaining insight on self is Meditation. Most people find ‘meditation’ intimidating, I would urge you to give it a try and experience it.

Control those nerves

Emotions lead to physical changes or reactions – some of us may get goose bumps on watching a heartwarming scene, some of us may get cramps in the stomach before an important meeting, some of us may freeze in moments of crisis – everyone’s physical reactions are different.  Our reactions are almost hard wired to our emotions. While we cannot change the physiology, we can manage our thoughts, which in turn can manage our reactions. Taking time off for a few minutes by itself can control those nerves. Deep breathing, quick tuning in, muscle relaxation, guided meditation, are some of the ways to calm down and regulate the nervous system.

Let it go (As Disney proclaimed in my daughters’ all-time favorite movie – Frozen!)

People tend to hang on to emotions – drag them like a broken record in a loop in their minds each time adding more drama to it. Quick recovery from an emotional episode is important. And the way to do it is – step aside, find a quiet place and TALK TO YOURSELF. Giving a little pep talk to self in the rest room or the deserted corner works just like it is portrayed in the movies. Later, introspect on what was intended, what happened, what could have been done differently to get the intended results. An example of getting out of a dragging emotion is – simple stretching your arms out, touching your toes, shaking your hands and feet. Create your own way of pushing the restart button for self. So, think about what is your restart button, and keep that handy.

Challenge negative thinking

Our brains are designed to look for the negatives. Think about it – We don’t need training to find out what’s missing, lacking or what was wrong. We are very good at picking faults, more so in others. Even for the larger things in life, we compare our lives with others to see what is missing in ours comparatively; very rarely we’ll look at how is our life better.