You’ve likely heard of emotional intelligence (EI) and emotional quotient (EQ) before, but what do these terms actually mean?
Simply put, EI or EQ is the ability to identify and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others. In a video, The School of Life elaborates, defining EI as, “…the quality that enables us to confront with patience, insight, and imagination the many problems that we face in our affective relationship with ourselves and with others.”
People with high EI effectively read nonverbal communication, show genuine interest in other people’s feelings, and demonstrate emotional resilience. (Here’s a longer list of EI traits.)
Fortunately, we can control our EI (to an extent), which can help us avoid misunderstandings and build strong relationships. Want to increase your EI? Here are three strategies.
- Articulate your emotions. Reflect on and articulate your feelings. For instance, let’s say a close friend cancels plans at the last minute. How do you feel? Or imagine if a colleague starts to cry in your office. How do you respond? Don’t rely on simple descriptors like ‘angry’; instead, opt for more specific emotions such as impatient, resentful, or outraged. (Check out this emotional vocabulary wheel for ideas.)
- Reframe feedback. “Constructive feedback” may seem like a buzzword, but providing feedback that’s truly helpful can be a productive way to strengthen your EI. The next time you need to deliver seemingly negative feedback, reframe the criticism in an attempt to shift the impact from harmful to helpful. And if you’re the one receiving the criticism, ask yourself, “How can this make me better?”
- Explore the ‘why.’ Empathy and compassion are important parts of EI. To more intentionally cultivate these abilities within yourself, Author of EQ Applied, Justin Bariso, suggests reflecting on three questions:
- Why does this person feel the way they do?
- What are they dealing with that I don’t see?
- Why do I feel differently than they do?
As Fast Company shares, “Instead of reacting to anger with anger, emotionally intelligent people know that this will only exacerbate the circumstances. By staying calm, listening, and staying positive, they are able to diffuse tense situations and keep them from escalating.” Luckily, EI is something we can practice and improve.
How do you demonstrate EI in the workplace?