How To Develop Emotional Intelligence

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Emotional intelligence is an extremely important tool in life because it affects just about all of your interactions with people on a day to day basis. It is useful in the workplace, in our friendships and in all of our relationships.

A cousin of mine had visited us from abroad over the Christmas holidays last year. On one of the days, our extended family went to a restaurant for lunch. My cousin was only around for a short period and was trying to work around his schedule. He expressed how he wanted to visit his maternal grandparents’ upcountry before going back abroad. My aunt randomly started laughing and we all looked in her direction wondering what the problem was. “You know he has dementia,” she said as she continued to laugh, “He probably won’t even remember you. Don’t bother yourself.”

This might seem normal to you as you read this. It may have been an appropriate thing to say, but the manner in which it was delivered made us all extremely uncomfortable. My cousin had no idea that his grandfather had dementia, and this is how he got the news. I honestly wanted to stand up and walk away for fear of what would come next, but I noticed everyone looking away and shifting the conversation as fast as possible. This is a clear illustration of a lack of emotional intelligence.

By definition, emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It helps you to empathize with what a person is feeling by predicting their feelings towards a certain subject. In the example given above, my aunt should have first understood that the news she was delivering was sad, and found a way of saying the same thing using a different mode of delivery.

That’s what emotional intelligence is about. Understanding how to deliver your information to a person without offending them. In doing so, we must also understand our own emotions, because if you don’t know how to deal with your own emotions, how will you deal with those of other people?

I can’t really blame people who lack emotional intelligence. It’s not a skill that everyone is born with. However, I believe strongly that people who lack emotional intelligence also lack self-awareness and that’s the bigger issue. Emotional intelligence is extremely important. It can be the reason why you become selected for a position career-wise. It will improve your social interactions, and you will be able to meet impactful and influential people in life.

Here are a few tips for developing your emotional intelligence.

  1. Pay attention to what people say and how they behave

One of the main reasons why people lack emotional intelligence is because they are passive in their interactions. When you don’t really pay attention and listen to people, you will never really understand what they are feeling and how it is affecting them. This means that you will not really grow as a person. Therefore, to develop your emotional intelligence, be aware of the people that you surround yourself with. Get to learn their personality and how to work around it.

  1. Maintain a positive attitude

In developing your emotional intelligence you have to have a positive attitude. In the cases that I’ve stated above, both situations stem from pessimistic points of view. However, emotional intelligence also dictates that you learn to celebrate other people’s achievements as though they are your own. Here’s where positivity comes from because in being positive, you see the best side of things and this can hardly ever offend anyone.

  1. Empathize with others

When you’re emotionally aware, you are able to put yourself in another person’s shoes. When someone gives you good or bad news, you take it as though it is happening to you, and you feel for them how you would if you were in the situation. This is the basis of emotional intelligence. If you were to win a car you would be extremely happy, therefore if you find out that a friend has won a car, you should be as happy for them as you would for yourself.

  1. Learn to take critique well

As part of developing your emotional intelligence, you must learn to accept when people correct you. Learn to identify positive criticism from people and absorb it. Most people who lack emotional intelligence are extremely defensive when they are corrected. Maturity dictates that you actually analyse what a person has told you and try to change for the better. People with high emotional intelligence will use the information to re-strategize and realign their lives such that they can constructively resolve their personal issues. How to Gracefully Take Constructive Criticism

  1. Practise self-awareness

People with low emotional intelligence are not really in tune with their feelings, because if they were, then they would be able to understand that reactions are similar most of the time and then act accordingly. This is why it’s important to understand what triggers you: What makes you happy, angry, sad or overjoyed. If you apply these same rules in your interactions with other people, you will be sure to develop your emotional intelligence.

Read about Six types of friends we all need

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