How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

How to Improve Your Emotional IntelligenceAs we discussed in a previous blog post about emotional intelligence (EI), it basically refers to one’s ability to detect, understand, and interpret emotions – both yours and those of others – to make better choices and decisions. With studies finding that EI is a better predictor of success than IQ, it’s understandable why so many people are interested in improving their emotional intelligence.

The great news is that EI is indeed malleable, and something that you can actually improve upon – unlike IQs which are pretty much fixed. Keep in mind, though, that EI is actually a catch-all for a number of different aptitudes, so there is no cookie cutter approach to increasing overall emotional intelligence.

The first step is to take an assessment, such as the EQ-i 2.0®, to figure out where you and your team individually stand on the various facets. All assessments have their own particular language, but in the case of the EQ-i 2.0®, we’re referring to self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal skills, decision-making, and stress management. You can view a diagram here.

The key to getting the most out of the assessment is being entirely honest with yourself – this is important because sometimes we skew our answers to match how we would like to be instead of how we actually are. I think it’s important to reiterate that EI is improvable, so we’re just trying to get a baseline to know what to work on. Self-awareness is very important in this process.

What’s interesting upon taking the test is that more often than not, we find that we’re unbalanced in our development of the various facets. We score highly on certain aptitudes, and low to middling on others. And while EQ is something ascribed to individuals, on teams it can be helpful to analyze how the group scores as a whole on the assessment to detect trends. It can be quite revealing to see that the majority of the team could use improvement in self-expression or stress management.

More often than not, there’s an individual who does score well on one of the groups’ less developed aptitudes and this person can sometimes act as a coach for the rest of the team on issues that fall under the category. He or she can identify situations in which something like stress management might not be going so well and work on ways to help mitigate rough situations through group forums where the team could strategize on how to handle mounting pressure through enhanced collaboration or workload-balancing among the team.

Committing to improvement often means revealing to friends and coworkers what it is that you’re working on, which requires some vulnerability (PS, this is also a trait of the emotionally intelligent). So if impulse control is something you struggle with – perhaps you unintentionally find yourself talking over people to get your ideas heard – you could let people know it’s okay to point out this behavior when it occurs.

Ultimately, emotional intelligence assessments should be used as a way to be self-reflective, as individuals and as groups. It’s a way to start a conversation around those essential components of EI that make us all more effective, successful, and higher functioning on all fronts, both personally and professionally.

Doug Ramsay

Doug handles the marketing and web presence for Adventure Associates. If he's not geeking-out with the latest, greatest web marketing tools, then you'll find him swirling and sipping his way through wine country.

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