Updated: May 17
Emotional intelligence is a skill and competency that is highly desired. We often gravitate to people with high emotional intelligence and we see people with high emotional intelligence in leadership roles. We can all continue to improve our emotional intelligence and it's a long road though, just because you've read this article doesn't mean that you will improve overnight. If you think it is a one-way street, think again. There is no way that you can improve your emotional intelligence without the help of others.
It is very much about having that feedback, understanding and reflecting. There are three pieces of the circle around how you improve emotional intelligence, it's about receiving feedback, reflecting on the feedback that you've received, then creating actions or goals.
Actions / Goals
Tweaking something, changing your behaviour, slightly changing the language that you use, or the tone or the pitch of what you say, to get a different response is a start. Then you receive feedback and reflect on that again. Was it good? Was it bad? Then you think about adapting further and realign goals.
The only thing that doesn't work is when you continue to stay on the train that you're on. If you think you do not need to change at all, then that is what we call a fixed mindset.
In order to improve your emotional intelligence, it is very much about having a growth mindset, understanding that we use the experiences and the learned experiences in our lives to adapt, make a change, and then move forward.
Let's look at the ways that we actually enable ourselves to improve our knowledge, the enablement star has all of these five pieces.
Coaching and Counseling
Somebody else is involved in the process with you like a mentor or a leader.
These can be a great way to improve. Make sure that you choose a course where you will receive feedback and there are practical assessments to assess change as well as knowledge.
Events and Conferences
For emotional intelligence, you have to interact with other people. You get a lot of feedback and reflection from events. even when the conversation is awkward or uneasy it is a learning opportunity.
Books and Articles
Of course, you can improve your knowledge with books and articles and with audio or video. Take this article as an example.
You might be asking which way is the most effective for improving emotional intelligence.
I would suggest coaching, counselling, mentorship or leadership, and if you check the course first then courses can be extremely effective.
And the reason for this is that you will receive feedback. You can track the changes or the different behaviours and see progress.
You can learn from books and articles, but it's about that implementation and action that leads to success.
Working on emotional intelligence and our journey to improve makes me think of the Emotioneering Triangle with the three points - Fear Courage and Confidence.
What tends to happen when you are looking to make changes is that you will be out of your comfort zone and that creates fear, anxiety, stress, it's uncomfortable to us. How much of each of the elements will differ from person to person. For example, Role-play or practising something new can make us feel uncomfortable. We are so used to the habitual routine of our life and the things that we usually say and do that it can be hard to try a different way.
The comfort zone keeps us is in the norm, but if we don't step out of that, we won't change. So, the emotioneering triangle, which I've created is very much about fear, courage through to confidence.
"Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision and Confidence is an outcome." -Melissa Curran
Confidence is actually something that happens from you making that change and receiving great feedback, or understanding from reflecting on that change, that it had a positive result for you, then you continue to do it. Or it comes from learning that it didn't go as bad as you thought it would.
In courses, coaching or mentorship, change happens between fear and courage, because a great coach or tutor knows it's about encouraging you to make that change, to change your path, to make a new behaviour or adjustment and giving you that courage to continue to do that and to make a new decision and change the way that you view things.
"If we change the way we look at things, the things we look at will change." - Wayne Dyer
So, yes. fear is a reaction, courage is a decision and confidence is an outcome. We must be prepared. When you think about improving emotional intelligence, prepare yourself for what it actually entails to get there. To be successful you have to be curious to learn, look at different circumstances, different relationships around you and how other people interact.
We can also learn from being open to feedback. If you're closed off, have a fixed mindset and you believe you can't change. Then, well -
"We can take a horse to water, but we cannot make it drink."
So it is about understanding that that feedback has to come in and sometimes as uncomfortable as it is, be prepared for it in order for us to grow and move forward.
Always take that feedback from someone that you trust, that you admire and you believe. Aim to get a couple of different opinions as well is great to improve your emotional intelligence. Not just one person.
Understand how you view yourself may not be the true reflection. We can think that we come across great. And then actually that's not how the other person interpreted what we said.
How much conflict do we have through conversations or situations? And we think, wow, how did that happen? We have to understand that, it could be that person's belief which caused the conflict, but it could also be the way that we've come across. So it's about looking at that and understanding that what we think is happening and what is actually happening may be completely different.
We have to be prepared to ask for help to understand that we don't know it all and that we do need to be able to ask the right people for help, or if we're not understanding something and be prepared to challenge our belief system or our beliefs.
Some of the cognitive distortions that we set up for ourselves are not correct. We can say things like everybody thinks this... Ask yourself, do they? Does everybody think that? Or is it just your perception that it's everybody. Another example people say is, 'This always happens to me.' Does it always happen to you? Or could it be that it's just that you hold onto that because those situations are the ones that affect you the most, those are the ones that have made you feel insecure or unhappy.
Be mindful of that, be prepared for change and that is how you can improve your emotional intelligence. Great to see you've already started your journey with this article.
Emotional intelligence, these people skills, are viewed by many as a 'nice to have', not a 'have to have'. I'm here to tell you today that they are absolutely fundamental and essential to having a successful career and a fulfilling life. I know from the research and people I work with just how much these skills impact our careers and how they impact the relationships that we have.