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How To Improve Emotional Intelligence

5 Mins read

For many people, learning how to improve emotional intelligence is not the easiest feat. With that in mind, the journey of further developing your emotional intelligence is an opportunity for personal growth. It’s well worth your time. If you learn how to improve your emotional intelligence (also known as EQ) you’ll notice better personal and professional relationships. You’ll likely also improve your romantic relationships if you have a higher EQ.

Someone with high EQ has a better shot at making relationships last, getting jobs, getting promotions, and in general, does better in social situations. Emotionally intelligent people are also better communicators.

Below, we’ll explain exactly why emotional intelligence is so important. Most importantly, we’ll share some strategies on how to improve your emotional intelligence. With increased self-awareness, elevated empathy, and a shift in perspective, you’ll be able to boost your emotional intelligence in no time.

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?

Emotional intelligence, otherwise known as your ‘emotional quotient’ or EQ, is the ability to perceive and manage emotions positively. An individual doesn’t necessarily have to be academically intelligent or have a high IQ to have a high EQ. 

Emotionally intelligent individuals can regulate their own emotions with ease. They can also interpret the emotions of others in a constructive, reflective manner. Those with high EQ are great at communicating, problem-solving, managing conflict and are highly empathetic to those around them. 

This type of intelligence is strongly correlated with positive interpersonal relationships and aptitude to surpass personal milestones. With that in mind, EQ isn’t just crucial for personal connections but also professional ones. 

People with a high EQ tend to work well with others and communicate effectively, which is why they’re often chosen for leadership roles and promotions. 

How To Improve Emotional Intelligence 

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Thankfully, emotional intelligence is a skill that can be improved over time. If you’re ready to learn how to enhance your emotional intelligence, start with these simple yet effective strategies:

1. Practice Self-Reflection and Self-Regulation

One of the best ways to build your emotional intelligence is to improve your own emotion regulation and get in touch with your own emotions. This requires a great deal of self-reflection, being honest with yourself, and learning how to accept (and learn from) constructive criticism. 

You can improve your EQ by simply listening to your thoughts and feelings and being aware of what types of feelings often come up for you. Pay attention to which direction your emotions are guiding you in. When you feel yourself getting anxious or wound up about something, figure out ways to relieve the tension in a positive manner and regulate your nervous system. This is called self-regulation. Understanding how you interact with your feelings will help you understand others. It’ll also make it easier for you to stay collected when dealing with a difficult situation. 

As important as identifying your emotions to build your EQ is, you shouldn’t stop there. You’ll need to work on figuring out the best ways to channel your feelings into positive outlets. This could be exercising, listening to some music, or even taking a quick break to collect your breath. 

The key is that emotionally intelligent people know how to soothe themselves without help from others. Mastering this skill will allow you to work through conflicts with others as well as managing internal conflicts within your mind.

2. Practice Active Listening

Part of the reason it’s so challenging to learn how to improve emotional intelligence is that most of us are naturally bad listeners. Our brains tend to pay attention to just enough of what the other person is saying to appear as though we’re listening. Many of us also interrupt people quite often. 

We’re more inclined to think about what we’re going to say next while someone else is speaking, than focus on what that person is actually trying to tell us. 

To improve your emotional intelligence, try to genuinely focus on what the other person is saying and feeling. The adage “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” may be cliche, but it’s poignant, especially in these types of scenarios. Ask questions and offer subtle reassurance like a nod to let the other party know that you’re listening. Doing so will help the other person feel more comfortable and potentially share more vulnerable feelings. Active listening doesn’t just help you become a better friend, coworker, or spouse; it also helps you learn more about people on an intimate level. Hold space for people when they’re trying to speak to you, and actively focus on listening to them.

3. Expand Your Social Circle and Become More Approachable

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Part of being emotionally intelligent is working to understand a wide range of people with a wide range of personalities and feelings. This means making an effort to expand your social circle to include those who aren’t necessarily similar to you. By meeting those with different lifestyle experiences than our own, we can develop more empathy and therefore improve our emotional intelligence. 

Challenge yourself to be the initiating party when it comes to meeting new people. If you don’t know where to start, you can always seek out community events or even online meetups. The point is to get comfortable with stepping outside your comfort zone to meet new people and attempt to connect with them.

Becoming more approachable is an excellent way to meet people outside of your circle. This way, you’ll be able to learn how to empathize with people and cultures that are different from your own. One great exercise is to practice meeting someone new in every room you meet. 

Do your best to ask questions, actively listen and engage the other party while in conversation. Keep things positive and remember to tend to the relationships you gain over time. 

4 Respond To Conflict, Rather Than Just React

Reacting to conflict is only natural. However, those with high EQ understand the importance of responding after the initial reaction is passed. The next time you’re faced with a challenging situation, try to take notice of the physical changes in your body. Do your shoulders tense up? Do your teeth clench? Noticing these changes can help you move out of conflict faster. 

Once you’ve passed the initial emotional shock, work on collaborating with the other party to resolve the conflict. Try to remain as even-mannered and rational as possible. If you need to, take a break before jumping back into resolution mode. With practice, resolving conflict will become easier, leading to higher EQ.

5. Prioritize Your Relationships

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One of the most overlooked but essential ways to improve your emotional intelligence is to simply make your relationships a priority. It’s especially crucial to make communication a priority and ask others how they feel while checking in with yourself about how you feel. Like anything else, our relationships and how we interact with them require plenty of time and effort to cultivate. By making positive interpersonal relationships a personal goal, you’ll naturally build up your emotional intelligence to a higher level. This way, you’ll actively seek out ways to be more responsive to your feelings and those around you. 

Emotional Intelligence and Personal Development

Learning how to improve emotional intelligence is the perfect way to invest in yourself. While cultivating these skills isn’t always easy, it’s certainly well worth the time and effort. You’ll notice your relationships with others improving. You’ll also notice that your relationship with yourself will improve. 

By learning how to identify feelings and take notice of what makes you “angry”, “sad”, “frustrated”, “relieved” and “happy”, for example, your relationship with yourself will improve. You’ll be in a better headspace. More people will want to be around you, and people will enjoy communicating with you.

Your DNA can’t guarantee what your emotional intelligence will be, but CircleDNA kits can tell you how likely you are to be higher or lower in EQ based on your genetics.

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About author
Erica majored in Psychology at UBC and has since followed her passion for writing and journalism, with a focus on health and travel writing.
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