How much time do you spend on your emotional intelligence?
If you’re like the average human being, the answer is probably: “Um, not much.”
That’s too bad, because according to researchers from Rutgers, there are 19 ways emotional intelligence contributes to the bottom line in any work organization. Emotional intelligence guides our ability to deal with others: to understand their emotions, as well as our own.
This is incredibly important in industries such as marketing, where a customer’s emotional reaction to an ad or display could mean the difference between him or her making a purchase or walking away. But emotional intelligence affects all aspects of our professional lives, from our ability to sell, to our networking prowess, to the way we climb the career ladder (or don’t).
As leadership expert Gordon Tredgold wrote recently for Huffington Post, “We get promoted because of our IQ and we get fired because of our lack of EQ.”
Check out these five super simple hacks that will help you sharpen your emotional intelligence and enjoy all of the benefits that affords:
1. Stay cool.
Italian researchers found that changes in body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure are great indicators of stress, which can affect how we deal with problematic situations. Before you lose your cool, take a walk outside to get some fresh air, or have a washroom break and splash cold water on your face. Don’t succumb that easily to the stressors.
2. Walk a mile in the other person’s shoes.
People can be a huge source of stress. Think about it: What drives your negative emotional reactions? Too often, it’s the opinions, judgments, requests, and demands of others. When a co-worker, superior, investor, or even competitor gets under your skin, try to look at the situation from that person’s perspective. Examine it from all angles. Is it possible you’re reading into the situation, or that his or her intent might be different from your understanding of it? Take a step back and think on the person’s possible motivations before reacting.
3. Have a plan B. And a plan C.
Psychology Today defines emotional intelligence as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” How well can you manage your emotions if you’re never prepared for what’s next? Being reactionary is a sure-fire recipe for emotional reactions. Instead, start projecting potential outcomes each time you make a decision, even if some seem like a stretch. Imagine how you’ll react to each one, so you’re not completely caught off guard. You’ll eventually find that even if the outcome isn’t one you predicted, you’re better able to handle each one and think on the fly!
4. Be definitive.
Challenging your bad habits is key for developing your emotional intelligence. Do you tend to use passive language to hedge your bets and protect yourself? (The form was completed by … New policies were introduced … etc.) Passive language is inherently weak, whether in writing or verbal; in fact, passive voice literally means telling the story of what’s happened to you. Do things happen to you, or are you a force who makes things happen? To showcase emotional intelligence, focus on highlighting the actions already taken. I completed the form. Our company introduced new policies. Take ownership and show customers, stakeholders, and the world your emotional intelligence.
5. Practice your emotional intelligence on others.
One critical aspect of emotional intelligence, as defined by Psychology Today, is your ability to influence the emotions of others. When a colleague comes to you in a stressed out, panicked state, are you calming, or is he or she more aggravated when you’re through? Whether in close, personal relationships, professional relationships, or interactions with strangers, how you deal with and influence others says a great deal about your emotional intelligence. Strive to leave each person you interact with in a better state.
Emotional intelligence is an incredibly important skill across all aspects of your personal and professional life. How do you measure yours? Share your thoughts on emotional intelligence in the comments.
Originally published in Inc.com
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