By Andres Lares, Managing partner at Shapiro Negotiations Institute and co-author of Persuade: The 4-Step Process to Influence People and Decisions
Emotional intelligence (EQ), is the ability to notice, understand and manage our own emotions as well as recognize, interpret, and influence the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence is crucial in building and sustaining relationships and influencing others. You will often find these key skills support a wide range of jobs and relationships, from leadership roles to service jobs and conversations with family and friends. EQ is the foundation of building rapport.
While emotional intelligence is innate for some, it is also a set of skills that can be learned, developed, and strengthened. The main factors of EQ are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
Check Your Own Attitude and Manage Your Emotions
In order to improve your EQ, you need to start at the beginning with self-awareness. Think of self-awareness as the foundation of a home and you build from there. By understanding, gauging, and controlling your triggers, you will be able to better manage your own emotions quicker. We often forget our emotions affect our mood, behaviors, and performance in the workplace, and at home, and can easily impact others around us.
It is easy to get swept up in our own emotions. Learn to reconnect with yourself and self-reflect.
Although awareness helps you feel more control over your emotions, learning to manage them is the key to success. By putting your feelings into words, you recognize them for what they are and feel them less strongly. This practice applies to a variety of feelings from loss and disappointment to frustration and aggravation.
First, take a step back and identify why you are feeling this way. Second, accept that the emotion is real and choose how to respond. Accepting the emotion allows you to turn your focus toward figuring out a solution. Third, take a break. There are numerous tactics to employ while regulating your emotions including taking a mental break, going for a walk, or redirecting a conversation.
Taking responsibility for your feelings and behaviors will have a positive impact on many areas of your life, including work and personal relationships. Often, people wear their emotions on their sleeves. You can easily pick up on how someone else is feeling based on their words, volume, pitch, and tone of voice, as well as nonverbal cues such as expressions, body language, and gestures. Be aware of how your emotions impact others by assessing their reactions.
Similar to building credibility, the most important part of building EQ is how others view you. You must make the effort to come across as someone who can identify and regulate emotions as well as be calm, collected, and likable.
Overall, maintain a positive mindset. Those with a high EQ rarely display overly critical thoughts. If you are looking to develop or improve your EQ, be aware of drama, negativity, selfishness, and dwelling on the past. Emotionally intelligent people understand that while you cannot control what happens, you can control how you react to it.
It is OK to have a bad day and vent about it, but rarely do emotionally intelligent people feel victimized or feel a solution is out of grasp. Don’t get swept up in the negativity or curbed by cynical thoughts. Give yourself grace and move on. Any setback should be viewed as a learning curve and an opportunity to improve. Surround yourself with like-minded, motivated people to help your own growth.
Social Awareness and Social Skills
Social awareness is the ability to understand the emotions of others and the basis of empathy.
Empathic people can switch places with another person and really think about their point of view. It is also important to remember, just like you, everyone has their own set of feelings, desires, triggers, and fears. We are only human and have similar motivations and limitations. If empathy doesn’t come naturally, there are a few ways it can be nurtured including active listening, being approachable, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, acknowledging what others say and feel, and being vulnerable.
Socially aware people often possess the skills of effective managers. From effective influence to conflict management to fostering teamwork and building and maintaining healthy relationships, to inspiring others, emotionally intelligent people have a wide range of skills.
Think about the last time you met someone with strong social skills, whether in a personal interaction or in the workplace. He or she had an enormous impact on others because this person understand how to communicate and help everyone work towards a common goal.
In order to build on your social skills, isolate a couple of skills you would like to develop. Next, identify someone in your life who excels in that skill and emulate his or her behavior. Observe how this person acts, controls their emotions and react to others. Then, you can apply what you learned and implement them in your everyday conversations. Just like everything in life, practice makes perfect!
Whether you are watching others at a coffee shop or writing down your emotions, thinking about how you react to emotional situations allows you to not only take responsibility for your actions but also understand the impact and implications of those actions on others.
There are many ways to develop more emotional intelligence. Yes, everyone starts at a different place naturally, but it can certainly be developed. It’s about working on self-awareness and empathy, more than anything – reading, training, introspection, all of these things help. Ultimately, when you increase and showcase a high EQ, you have the power to influence others.
About the Author: Andres Lares is the Managing Partner at Shapiro Negotiations Institute and co-author of Persuade: The 4-Step Process to Influence People and Decisions. Lares’ expertise ranges from coaching live negotiations to developing online content for facilitating programs in real estate, advisory, media, banking, and pharmaceuticals. He is a guest lecturer on the topic of negotiation and influence at various universities including Ohio University and annually teaches a sports negotiation course at Johns Hopkins University.