More and more you may be hearing that employers are looking for “emotional intelligence”. But what does it mean? Emotional intelligence is our ability to both understand and control our own emotions while also being sensitive and understanding to others. Maybe you aren’t sure if you have emotional intelligence or think it is something you need to improve? Thankfully your emotional intelligence is something that you likely already have and can improve upon.

By being self aware you can work towards a great level of emotional intelligence. In doing so you will likely be a happier and more successful person. In this article we will help you to make sense of what emotional intelligence is and how you can improve it. Check out our previous article on how to have a successful life for tips on recognizing success within your own life.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Though it sounds mysterious, emotional intelligence is simply the ability to both recognize and control one’s emotions. A person who is emotionally intelligent doesn’t fly into a rage when something doesn’t go their way. They instead can be introspective. This does not mean that a person does not experience anger, they do, but they can recognize the emotions that make them feel this way and act accordingly.

Emotional intelligence can go beyond one’s own ability to control their emotions. It can also include the ability to understand the feelings of others around them. Empathy is an important skill that we should all try to work towards improving. In the workplace empathy matters as it helps us to relate to and understand the people around us. When you are empathetic to a customer’s needs you are able to provide them with the best service. If you are an employer, being empathic towards your employees will gain you respect. People like being around genuine people who can understand the needs of others.

Emotional Intelligence & Motivation

Employers look for candidates with emotional intelligence for many reasons. One important quality of people who are emotionally intelligent is that they are self-starters who are motivated and driven. They don’t need to be asked over and over to complete a task. Instead they are dependable and can manage their workload effectively. This does not mean that they don’t feel overwhelmed or that they are always motivated. Instead it means that they are self aware.

Emotionally intelligent people are often motivated because they understand their own needs. They know how to prioritize the needs of their employer and their own personal needs and use this to propel action. They talk about their workload and ensure that they don’t put too much on their plate. When they are feeling overwhelmed, their work is less likely to suffer as they are aware that they need support. And they will take action to get it. By learning how to recognize when you need help and learning how to tell your boss you are overwhelmed can help flex the muscle of emotional intelligence and help you to be a motivated and effective employee.


How Can I Improve My Emotional Intelligence?

When you think of an emotionally intelligent person you may be imagining that they have always been how they are. They are cool, collected, successful, motivated and communicate well. But what we see on the outside is often the result of hard work to improve one’s ability to regulate and understand their emotions.

Feelings are natural but developing healthy and appropriate responses to them can take work. Though it is true that some people are naturally inclined to be more emotionally intelligent or empathetic than others, everyone can improve their emotional intelligence. Below are our top tips for improving emotional intelligence.

  1.  Speak your mind – emotionally intelligent people can communicate their needs effectively. They are matter of fact in when interacting with others. This does not mean that kindness isn’t as the forefront. It simply means that they have boundaries and are assertive with their communication. Try saying how you feel and tell others what you expect from them.
  2. Respond effectively – there is no doubt that situations will occur that test your patience. In these times try to collect your thoughts before taking action. Try not to make an immediate reaction but instead respond. Be reflective not reactive.
  3. Practice empathy – it is not possible to understand the motives of others without first considering life from their perspective. Consider how you would feel if faced with the same circumstance as those around you.
  4. Listen – one of the best ways to both understand others and have them feel that you care about them is to listen. Work on actively listening when others speak to you. Listen closely, ask questions and paraphrase to show you care and have heard what they have said to you.
  5. Welcome constructive criticism – part of emotional intelligence is being able to control your feelings good and bad. Though it can be disappointing and sometimes hurtful to receive criticism, emotionally intelligent people accept it well. Try finding the good in criticism and allow yourself to grow through failure and faults.

Who Can Help Me?

If you feel that you could use assistance in building strong emotional intelligence skills, there is help available. Consider reaching out to a therapist or a certified life coach like Lisa Jeffs. Obtaining outside perspective on where you can find improvements in building emotional intelligence can be helpful. With the right support system and some effort, you should be able to improve on the emotional intelligence areas that are critical to you.

Remember that emotional intelligence is not simply a personality trait. Even those who naturally are inclined to be emotionally intelligence need to continuously build on their skills. In order to be emotionally intelligent, you need to reflect on your emotions and take steps to ensure you are responding to stressors effectively.

Consider that you cannot control what happens to you, but you can decide how you will react. Take the time to build on your emotional intelligence skills. By doing so you are sure to be on your way to developing strong and lasting relationships, obtain career success and live a happier life.