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5 Steps To Raise Your Emotional Intelligence

A wooden mannequin holds a symbolic heart.
A wooden mannequin holds a symbolic heart.

How many times have you been really frustrated in a situation where you just can't believe the way someone has spoken to you, or reacted to you, or demanded something of you? Why is it that some people can be just plain rude, emotionally incapable of relating to others with respect?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) matters just as much as intellectual ability when it comes to personal and professional relationships and leadership capabilities. A high level of EQ helps you to build stronger relationships, create success at work, and achieve your career and personal goals.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts all aspects of your daily life, including the way you behave and the way you interact with others.

The four attributes of EQ:

• Self-awareness

• Self-management

• Social awareness

• Relationship management

Why is emotional intelligence (EQ) so important?

It's not always the smartest people who are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. Intellectual intelligence (IQ) isn't enough on its own to be successful. Your IQ can help you get into college, but it's your EQ that will help you manage the stress and emotions when facing your final exams.

How to raise your emotional intelligence

Step 1: Learn how to gauge situations accurately by managing stress

High levels of stress can overwhelm the mind and body, getting in the way of your ability to accurately "read" a situation, be aware of your own feelings and needs, and communicate clearly.

Being able to quickly calm yourself down and relieve stress helps you stay balanced, focused, and in control -- no matter what challenges you face or how stressful a situation becomes.

Step 2: Reduce relationship stress with emotional awareness

Being able to connect to your emotions is the key to understanding yourself and remaining calm and focused in tense situations with others.

Many people are disconnected from their emotions -- especially strong core emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, and joy. This may be the result of negative childhood experiences that taught you to try to shut off your feelings. But we can't eliminate them. They're still there, whether we're aware of them or not.

Step 3: Improve your non-verbal communication

Being a good communicator requires more than just verbal skills and the ability to manage stress. Often, what you say is less important than how you say it, or the other nonverbal signals you send out -- the gestures you make, the way you sit, how close you stand, or how much eye contact you make. To hold the attention of others, build connection and trust, be aware of, and in control of, your body language. Learn to accurately read the nonverbal cues that others send you.

Step 4: How to use humour and play to deal with challenges

Humour, laughter, and play are natural antidotes to life's difficulties; they lighten your burdens and help you keep things in perspective. A good laugh reduces stress, elevates mood, and brings your nervous system back into balance. Playful communication broadens your EQ and helps you take hardships in stride, relaxes and energises you.

Step 5: How to resolve conflict positively

Conflict and disagreements are inevitable in relationships. Two people can't possibly have the same needs, opinions and expectations at all times. Resolving conflict in healthy, constructive ways can strengthen trust between people. When conflict isn't perceived as threatening or punishing, it fosters freedom and safety in relationships.

The ability to manage conflicts in a positive, trust-building way is supported by the previous four skills. Once you know how to manage stress, stay emotionally present and aware, communicate non verbally, and use humour and play, you'll be better equipped to handle emotionally charged situations and defuse issues before they escalate.


Jane Jackson is a career management coach. Visit for more information.

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