Increase Emotional Intelligence with This List

Article by John Grover on January 23, 2019
John Grover
Share to love!

In 1995, psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman published a book introducing most of the world to the concept of emotional intelligence (EQ). His idea that our ability to understand and manage emotions greatly increases our chances of success quickly took off – and it went on to greatly influence the way people think about emotions and human behavior.

In the twenty-plus years since Goleman’s book burst onto the scene, the world has changed dramatically, and the need for emotional intelligence has only intensified. Consider that a fractured political climate is now the norm, with candidates using emotions like fear and anger as “weapons of mass persuasion.” Passionate followers— often quick to judge the “other” as stupid or incorrigible— pursue heated discourse and hurl attacks, making calm and rational discussion all but impossible.

By increasing your knowledge about your own emotions, you will gain a better understanding of yourself and the reasons behind the decisions you make.

By increasing your knowledge about your own emotions, you will gain a better understanding of yourself and the reasons behind the decisions you make.

My closest friends certainly wouldn’t pin me as religious, but when it comes to increasing emotional intelligence, I do my best to follow the following rules. It’s these eight principles that help guide my mind and heart toward more emotional intelligence.

The 8 Commandments of Emotional Intelligence

1. Thou shalt learn to pause. The pause is as simple as taking a moment to stop and think before you act or speak. But beware: while easy in theory, it’s difficult in practice. Don’t expect perfection. Practice consistently, and the pause will prevent embarrassment and could save countless relationships.

2. Thou shalt ponder thyself. Emotional intelligence begins by learning to ask yourself the right questions. Consider the following:

  • What are my emotional strengths?
  • What are my emotional weaknesses?
  • How would I describe my communication style?
  • How would others describe it?
  • How does my current mood affect my thoughts and decision-making?
  • In what situations do I find that emotions work against me?

Pondering questions like those will help you build self-awareness, which will yield valuable insights that can be used to your advantage.

3. Thou shalt learn from other perspectives. While listening to others, don’t focus on right or wrong; rather, work to understand how perceptions differ and the reasons they do. That includes learning to take negative feedback, which can expose blind spots and lead to self-improvement.

4. Thou shalt praise others. Humans crave sincere praise and acknowledgment. When you express appreciation for others, you satisfy that craving and build trust in the process. Everyone deserves commendation for something. By focusing on the good in others, and then specifically telling them what you appreciate, you inspire them to be the best version of themselves.

5. Thou shalt practice empathy. Instead of judging or labeling others, work hard to see things through their eyes. Listen with the goal of understanding the other person and their point of view, even if you don’t agree. Ask yourself, ‘Why does this person feel this way? What’s going on beneath the surface?’ Empathy helps increase your ability to influence others and allows you to build deeper, more connected relationships.

6. Thou shalt be authentic. Authentic people share their true thoughts and feelings with others. They know not everyone will agree with them, and that this is okay. They also realize that they aren’t perfect. But, they are willing to show their imperfections because they know everyone else has their own as well. Authenticity doesn’t mean sharing everything about yourself, with everyone, all of the time. It does mean saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and sticking to your values and principles above all else, bring your YOU!

7. Thou shalt control thy thoughts. When you experience a negative situation, you may not have much control over your feelings. But by focusing on your thoughts, you can control your reaction to those feelings. When you focus on your thinking, you resist becoming a slave to your emotions. Instead, acknowledge those feelings and then move forward in a way that’s harmonious with your goals and values.

8. Thou shalt never stop learning. Emotional intelligence isn’t about achieving perfection or reaching a certain level of EQ. It’s often when you feel you’ve “mastered” the other commandments that you will make your greatest mistakes. It is how you handle those mistakes that will determine just how emotionally intelligent you truly are. Never underestimate the power of emotions for good, nor their potential to harm. Always strive to make emotions work for you, instead of against you.

Emotions Greatly Affect Our Decision-Making

Our emotions influence practically everything about our lives. They determine whether we enjoy a movie, a song, or a piece of art. They help us decide which career path we take, for which jobs we apply. They influence our decisions as to where we will live and for how long. They help us determine with whom we choose to spend our time, whom we date, whom we fall in love with and marry, and whom we leave behind.

Emotions can cause us to make a split-second decision, with consequences that will follow us for the rest of our lives. At times, they make us feel like we’re stuck in a black hole with no way out— even if the rest of the world thinks we’ve got it made. Emotions can also provide light at the end of the tunnel, making the direst of circumstances more bearable. Emotions determine how we choose our leaders and how our leaders choose us. It is for all these reasons that emotional intelligence is so invaluable.

Emotional intelligence isn’t about understanding every feeling you have or dissecting every event... Rather, it’s the ability to search for a deeper understanding and to enjoy the moment.

Remember that emotional intelligence isn’t about understanding every feeling you have as it occurs or dissecting every event as it happens. Rather, it’s the ability to search for a deeper understanding and to enjoy the moment. EQ skills and habits are perishable. Just as a musician who doesn’t practice will soon become rusty, neglecting self-reflection and perspective-taking will cause you to lose your abilities over time.

Mistakes Are Normal, Keep Learning Those Lessons

I’ve found it’s often when you feel that you’ve “mastered” a facet of emotional intelligence that you’ll make your greatest mistakes. But how you handle those mistakes, will determine how emotionally intelligent you truly are. At these times, moments of reflection and practice will yield surprising insights and “aha” moments that can change you for the better, if you let them.

We are all students after all, and we continue to learn from each other. So, keep learning those lessons. Continue striving to harness the great power of emotion, lest you become a slave to your own feelings. Pursue knowledge and understanding with the goal of making yourself better.

Above all, remember that emotions are beautiful. They make us human. Enjoy them. Love them. Embrace them. But never underestimate their power, and their potential to do good AND harm. Learn to live in harmony with these fundamental truths— and you’ll be sure to make emotions work for you, instead of against you.

Tags: Culture, Leadership

Subscribe to get updates!

Share the love

Join the conversation