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How Can I Improve My Emotional Intelligence?

Most times when people think of intelligence, they think of intelligence based on their IQ (Intelligence Quotient). Something that is just important, if not more important in my opinion as a therapist, is emotional intelligence. It can be a hard subject to understand and also challenging to increase emotional intelligence. I recently read an article from Fast Company that touched on this very topic, “5 Simple ways to boost your emotional intelligence everyday” by author Harvey Deutschendorf. 

Below are the 5 key points from Harvey’s article.

  • Self-awareness. One way to become more emotionally intelligent is to become more self-aware about how you are feeling. This can look like taking a brief minute to ask yourself, “What feeling (s) am I feeling today?” Not only does this exercise give you a sense of your feelings, but it also helps you better manage your feelings.  
  • Become an active listener. It is one thing to hear someone, it is another thing to listen to them. To be an active listener, it means to simply repeat back in your own words what someone said and then ask them follow up questions. Most people quickly jump into their own thoughts, feelings, and opinions; you may shock your friend and/or coworker when you slow down the conversation and become an active listener.
  • Ask questions about their life. Rarely do people feel excited hearing you have a monologue about a silly dream or what your specific coffee order was on your way to work is. People tend to feel more connected to you when you form deeper connections by asking them about themselves as opposed to talking about your own random stories that others may not care to hear about.
  • Take a breath. Let’s say you’re in a situation where you are feeling frustrated, such as a long line at your favorite coffee shop, instead of starting to roll your eyes at people around you for giving a long list of orders to the cashier, attempt to take a deep breath. When feeling the anger feelings, it can be very re-centering to take a few deep breaths and count to ten. 
  • Reflection time. It can be very helpful at the end of your day to take a few minutes to think about the things you felt good about and the things you felt bad about. If you tried any of the above strategies and felt good about it, take a brief moment to applaud yourself. For the things you did not like about your day, it could give you a minute to think about perhaps what you could have done differently. 

Practicing any form of self-improvement can be challenging. No one is perfect at improving their emotional intelligence. It also takes quite some time, and for some it takes personal healing due to never having the chance to really tap into their own feelings. Maybe this was due to childhood maladaptive coping skills, or maybe observing your parents being poor role models about how to express their thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. 

It is helpful to give yourself grace and self-compassion when focusing on any sort of work that involves being intentional with yourself, others, and your surroundings that cause emotions anywhere from anger to happiness and anywhere in between. 

While this list provided five different strategies that can improve your emotional intelligence, try to focus on the one (s) that you think would help you most, as you know yourself better than anyone.

If you are currently struggling with managing your feelings, it may be a good idea to get in touch with one of our licensed therapists at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment.  

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