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How to improve your emotional intelligence

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Emotional intelligence is your ability to manage your emotions and use them in positive ways while avoiding acting on your emotions negatively. Being happy and successful in life includes not only one’s intelligence quotient but also an individual’s emotional intelligence. We have all met people who seem to have high intelligence but low emotional intelligence. Although these folks can think well they sometimes have difficulties in relationships and in their efforts to relieve stress in their lives. Emotional intelligence affects how you behave, manage stress and interact with others.

Emotional intelligence consists of four constructs:

• Social awareness meaning that you can empathize with others and understand the dynamics of social interactions.

• Self-awareness which means you can identify your emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior.

• Relationship management whereas you understand how to establish and maintain positive relationships.

• Self-management meaning you can control unhealthy, impulsive feelings and behaviors and adjust to changing circumstances.

You can improve your emotional intelligence by focusing on managing the stressors in your life and improving your communication skills. Stress management affords you the ability to first identify a stressor that is potentially strong enough to influence your thoughts and feelings and then manage it. Secondly, by improving your skill at communicating you build better relationships and can maintain them with confidence. By not feeling stressed-out and having effective communication skills your emotional intelligence will improve.

For example, in place of name-calling, egging cars and throwing trash in someone’s yard you are able to collect your thoughts because you are not stressed-out and express your feelings appropriately. Name-calling, throwing eggs at someone’s car or throwing trash in their yard all reflect low emotional intelligence. Those with high emotional intelligence avoid such negative and childish behavior.

In terms of stress management begin by finding ways to immediately minimize overwhelming stress in the moment. Changing the topic of conversation, walking away and breathing deeply or asking for a time out are a few ways of avoiding acting out the feelings you are having and stressed-out about in the moment. Overall, it is a healthy practice for all of us to engage in daily stress management routines. Generally when you feel less stressed, stress in the moment is more easily managed.

After working on your stress management begin to improve your communication skills including an awareness that you communicate using both verbal and non-verbal skills. What you say is important but how you say it and what body language you display is many times more important. Tone of voice, body position, eye contact and the hand gestures you make are all saying something to the receiver. It is also extremely critical that who you are talking to feels you are listening to them. Communication is truly a two-way street.

There you have it. You can improve your emotional intelligence by managing your stress and applying healthy and effective communication skills. No one is perfect and you will have challenges in your life. The difference will be that with a higher degree of emotional intelligence you will be more successful at meeting life’s challenges. My next article will focus on how to improve your communication skills.

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