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Improve your emotional intelligence. Here’s how.

Improve your emotional intelligence

We came across an interesting story about habits that can help improve emotional intelligence on INC.com to share with you here. As we know today emotional intelligence has become so much more important in both personal and professional lives. The article says the simplest way to have a better emotional intelligence is to develop intellectual muscle memory and choose specific words to communicate to others and yourself. Let’s break it down to these simple habits you can start practicing every day now!  

  1. Ask why over and over

List the “why” questions you have on a minute basis. “Why do you want that job?” or “Why do you want to have more money?”. 

The answer might be short and simple, such as, I want to have more money so that I can buy more things, but why? Why do you need to buy more things? Ultimately, a hidden fact or emotion is influencing the deepest answers.

According to the article, emotional intelligence requires you to identify them so you can assess them so if you can’t articulate a compelling, defensible why that’s a big red flag. There’s either something wrong with your ultimate goal, or there’s something wrong with the specific activity you’re doing to try to reach it.

So ask why then ask why again. 

2. Learn to be strategically vulnerable.

According to the article, every conversation is made up of many smaller conversations, and people with high emotional intelligence understand that there’s a sense of momentum that can ebb or flow as you proceed.

Therefore, it can be so useful to structure conversations so that you pile up agreements and understandings along the way—leading to even bigger and better understandings.

One way to learn to do that sometimes is to be strategically vulnerable.

While this habit requires care and calibration, it comes from a place of high emotional intelligence. Someone who has less power in a conversation, a junior employee, for example, has to guide others through their points, chalking off small points of agreement and understandings along the way.

Some other easier tactics to learn, if that one doesn’t suit you, during a difficult conversation, you can learn to structure what you’re saying so that the emotional undercurrent becomes, “We all face this common problem sometimes–let’s solve it,” as opposed to “You did something wrong and you need to fix it.”

Emotionally intelligent people understand the difference, and they make the choice intentionally and strategically.

3. Learn to pace yourself. 

Learn to wait a minute or an hour, or a day before acting to let the power in restraint. Silence is potent, again, according to the article.

If you pause before responding to almost any external stimuli, often you wind up with the upper hand. 

Emotionally intelligent people learn to appreciate that slower action makes room for strategic thought, and it makes ill-considered emotional reactions less of a danger.

In this case, patience isn’t just a virtue. It’s a superpower.

4. Rehearse what you’ll say.

Based on the story, we all have habits we’re not even aware of, especially language habits. Emotionally intelligent people recognize this, and therefore they work hard to develop language habits with intention — literally, specific words and phrases — because they understand that these choices are likely to inspire emotions 

You might train yourself to say something different from “I understand”– something more like, “I’m listening, and I think I hear you saying X,” or else, “I’m trying to understand; please say a little more.”

No matter what you choose, you might do the same thing afterward: sit still, look receptive, and try to listen more.  

Without thinking it through beforehand, you might choose any phrases that may end up disastrous. That’s why emotionally intelligent people do think it through–and even rehearse, ahead of time. 

5. Learn to end with gratitude.

We started with the hardest lesson to learn by asking why, so now let’s end on the easiest: Emotionally intelligent people will go out of their way to find something they can express gratitude for, toward the end of every conversation.

Even better: Learn to express thanks for something you know the other side will agree with, rather than something that might trigger an undesired emotional reaction.

A couple of examples from the INC article:

· “Thank you for meeting with me today,” or “Thank you for taking the time to talk.” 

· “Thanks for understanding,” or “Thank you for coming around to my way of thinking.”

The point here is to leave people feeling good about your gratitude instead of being bothered by disagreement.  

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