How’s your emotional intelligence? Top dos and don’ts for a high EQ

Emotional intelligence has been defined as: “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others”

Zeta Yarwood

Published: Updated:

Emotional intelligence (EQ) has been a hot topic in the world of personal and professional development over recent years. In fact, some have even cited it as the number one success factor. Success, no matter what your definition, comes down to having the ability to form good relationships. With friends, family, colleagues, clients, customers, leaders. People with a high EQ find it easier to form and maintain solid relationships with the people in their lives. Leading to greater levels of success.

Emotional intelligence has been defined as: “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others”.

So, how do you know if you have high or low emotional intelligence? Here are 3 signs you might be low on that all-important ingredient for success:

1) No self-awareness

Self-awareness is knowing yourself at the deepest level. You know what makes you tick. You’re highly conscious of your own emotional state, your personality, your strengths and weaknesses and even how you come across to others. People with low EQ often take feedback as criticism and quite often “can’t handle the truth”. People with high EQ see feedback for what it is, and make improvements if and when necessary - without taking offence.

2) You’re not responsible for your emotions

“My boss makes me so angry!” So, you’re telling me your boss has a remote control to your emotions? And with the touch of a button can dictate what emotion you feel? People with low EQ still believe that people and external events control their feelings. They are not accountable for their emotions and often blame others or situations for how they feel. People with high EQ are aware of personal triggers and are in control of their emotions.

3) It’s always about you

People with lower EQ tend to only think about how something affects them. They don’t consider what it must be like to be in other people’s shoes. Having the desire and the ability to see things from another person’s view point is crucial for conflict resolution and effective communication.

So, the question now is - how can you develop your EQ even further?

1) Get feedback from people you trust

Ask either a colleague, your boss, your spouse or close friend to give you some honest feedback. Ask them about how they perceive you - do you seem to be in control of your emotions and to care about other people’s emotions and viewpoints? How good are your communication skills, including listening? What do they dislike about you or find frustrating? What are your perceived strengths and weaknesses? Once you have the answers to these, you can incorporate them into how you see yourself - as you truly are. And if anything they say offends you or ‘makes you angry’, then chances are they might have a point.

2) Become an observer of your emotions

Some people get angry or stressed so fast they’re not even aware of it. Worse still, they have no clue how this anger or stress affects those around them. The key thing is to start being consciously aware of your emotions - and notice any patterns. Look for key triggers. What reactions, behaviours or situations provoke an emotional response in you? What can you learn ABOUT YOU in these situations that might help you control your emotions better next time? Do you need to learn not to take things so personally? Or perhaps your expectations are too high or unrealistic? Take a note of these lessons and carry them with you in the future.

3) Listen and take an interest in others

Emotional intelligence is not just about recognising your own emotions. It’s about being able to recognise emotions in others. A great way to start developing this skill is to become an active listener. Really focus on what the other person is saying and not on what you want to say. Note that while the content of what they are saying is important, emotions and attitudes are mostly communicated through their voice and body language. So, when listening, focus a significant amount of your attention on their voice (tone, pitch, volume etc.), facial expressions and body language to get a genuine understanding of how they really feel about something.

4) Be humble and willing to change

A key trait of successful people is humility. They know that even though they are successful, they are no better (or worse) than anyone else. They have the genuine belief that everyone on this planet has equal value. They are comfortable knowing they are not 'the best' - and that if they want to improve or be better, it’s up to them to change it. Sometimes people with low emotional intelligence believe that everyone else is the problem, so it’s others who should change and not them. Recognising the problem could lie with you and being willing to change it is a key step in developing emotional intelligence.