emotional intelligence

How to develop emotional intelligence?

We all look to create positive environments around us. This pursuit is key to building long-lasting friendships, partnerships and careers. Achieving it however is easier said than done. 

While often relegated to the sidelines in the past, the importance of emotions in the professional world is now widely recognised. For leaders today, what makes the difference is the ability to understand emotions, to recognise them, to identify them in others, and to accept that they can influence our behaviour. Being a leader means accepting to see the world change and taking responsibility for it.

All very well you say, but what about real life? Whether it be a tight deadline, an irate client or a difficult colleague, life can quickly have us navigating through challenging waters.  To weather the storms, we need to build resilience that allows the development of lasting, synergistic relationships that recognise the importance of our emotions. 

Defined as “the ability to recognise and effectively manage your emotions and the emotions of others”, emotional intelligence has no beginning or end. Emotional intelligence is a quality that we have acquired throughout our lives. It can and will evolve over time as our personal and professional experience grows. 

So how do we help it evolve to best suit our needs?

Practise self-awareness

Reflecting on our emotions and instinctive reactions is a great starting point. We can mentally record what we feel and pick up some techniques to help change our mood. Emotionally intelligent people do their best to get to the root of problems. So, for example, when stressed, they will look to identify the causes of the stress rather than being overwhelmed by it. Leaders who are aware of their own emotions have a positive influence on attitudes and behaviour in the workplace.

Manage your emotions

Managing our emotions is the difference between a blow-up mid-meeting and a calm reflected response. Lest we forget, we each decide how we react to any given situation. There are no foregone conclusions. To manage your emotions, you must first be aware of them. When we learn to manage our emotions, we are more able to stay calm and positive in stressful situations. We might even consider an obstacle as an opportunity for improvement!

Recognise and react to emotions in others

Empathy is right at the core of trusting relationships and open communication; empathy means understanding the emotional state of others. We can try to imagine the situation that a colleague is in, and then communicate our understanding and support for his situation. Becoming an empathetic person in the workplace can facilitate a better relationship between ourselves and our colleagues. This alone can make conflict a much less common occurrence in the office. However, if and when tensions arise, an existing solid basis for clear communication makes it easier to rapidly resolve tension.

Communicate effectively

Clear and effective communication means creating a lasting connection that lays the path for trust and collaboration.  In any given situation, we can use verbal and non-verbal communication skills along with the awareness we have already developed above to do just that!  Taking the time to become aware of the language and body language we use is a great first step. Understanding how others communicate is another endlessly interesting occupation. 

Emotional intelligence is integral to building relationships that make the difference. Each and every interaction is an opportunity to manage our emotions, practice empathy and improve our relationships. By developing our awareness of the state of mind and actions of ourselves and others, we can look to align emotions, intent and communication to build relationships that will weather any storm.  With strong emotional intelligence at the core of our leadership skills, we can look to develop sound and solid partnerships for a brighter future. 

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