5 Strategies for Building Your Emotional Intelligence

Improve your outcomes in the workplace and beyond

It’s fascinating that although your intelligence quotient (IQ) may be a filter used to determine intellectual capacity, your emotional quotient (EQ) may be far more important to your success, says psychologist and author, Dr. Daniel Goleman.

Essentially, emotional intelligence is our ability to be aware of, influence, and express our own emotions, in addition to perceiving and influencing those of others; in the context of interpersonal relationships. The components include: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills, as described by Dr. Goleman in his Harvard Review article, “What Makes a Leader?

Do you want to improve your outcomes in the workplace? Let your emotional intelligence lead the way.

Use these five strategies to improve your EQ:

1. Pay more attention to your emotions on a daily basis. It’s hard to become more self-aware if you’re simply not cognizant of the emotions that you’re experiencing on a daily basis. Do you know how to identify feelings when they arise? Do you know your emotional triggers? Paying more attention simply means becoming more sensitive to your emotions when they arise by identifying them and understanding why they are present. Over time, you will discover key distinctions that will help you become sharper and further develop your emotional wheelhouse.

2. Improve your non-verbal communication and become sensitive to that of others.
Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA, Albert Merhabian, notes that 55% of our communication is derived from body language, while 38% is para-linguistic (having to do with the way that you say something: tone, pauses, pace, etc) and a mere 7% pertains to the actual words spoken.

Bottom line: body language is the most powerful component of how we communicate. That being said, so much can get lost in translation. What can you improve by changing your body language and being more sensitive to others? You will begin to more accurately shape your communication so that it reflects your intentions without confusion. You will also begin to understand how you process communication from others.

3. Practice empathy. The idea of empathy is often confused with sympathy. Unlike sympathy, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Stated differently, empathy is feeling with someone, while sympathy is feeling for someone. We can establish a deeper connection with anyone by being thoughtful about how we engage them, using our emotional dexterity. People know genuine empathy when they feel it—there’s no faking it. So, dig deep.

4. Exercise self-regulation. It’s so easy to be uninhibited in our behavior, especially when it’s become a habit—quite a different proposition to purposely regulate it. However, when the goal is to increase your EQ, self-examination combined with self-regulation, is important. Instead of submitting to your usual practices and procedures, why not chart a new course, informed by focused behavior that serves a higher purpose?

5. Sharpen your social skills. We are inherently social creatures. To say that the purpose of human interaction is to connect, is an understatement. If we can’t really avoid being around others, wouldn’t it also follow that we should make the most of each and every interaction? Practice listening, holding meaningful, engaging conversations, collaborating, negotiating—and even executing common courtesies, whenever possible. You may think of these things as common-sense activities, but experience teaches that common sense is hardly common.

Each of these strategies can enhance your EQ and help you make a positive impact in the workplace and beyond.

Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her website, www.wordsmithrapport.com.