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A close-up of a newly opened delphinium flower (Summer 2013).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Developing Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your emotions in a positive and constructive ways. It also involves controlling impulsive feelings and behaviors, following through commitments and responsibilities, and adapting to changing circumstances.

Further, it is the skill to understand how others feel, what their needs and concerns are, to empathize with them, and to build strong social relationships in general.

How do you develop emotional intelligence (EQ)? The following skills are what I believe would help you develop your EQ:

Be aware of your emotions. Stress, anxiety, and fear can overwhelm some people to the point that they are unable to control certain impulsive behavior. To develop emotional intelligence, be aware of your emotions moment by moment, understand where they are coming from, and allow yourself some "cooling" time before acting or deciding. Some emotions can come from long ago emotional baggages that not have been resolved. Negative emotions can lurk deep under and may affect your ability to act and decide rationally.

Identify non-verbal cues. A lot of what we feel are expressed in a nonverbal way. This "wordless" communication holds the cue to what is going on inside you and that of others. Facial expression, eye contact, tone of voice, posture and gestures are some of the non-verbal cues we exhibit or see in others. These non-verbal  cues are emotionally-driven. Your ability to refine and control your non-verbal cues depends largely on awareness of your emotions and why they are present in the first place. Also, your ability to "read" other people's non-verbal cues depends on your capacity to accurately identify what these emotions are. Learn to differentiate between real emotions and fake ones in others.

Resolve conflict proactively. The word "proactive" refers to acting in advance to deal with expected difficulties. Rather than waiting for a conflict to escalate, take control by negotiating, problem-solving, and talking about problems and concerns in a non-threatening manner. There will always be disagreements, differing points of view, and expectations in any relationship. So choose your arguments by focusing on your feelings instead of pointing fingers at others. Start with the words "I feel...". Never start with "You are this and that...that's why!". 

Use of humor and play. Never take life seriously unless your house is on fire or somebody is about to die. Take things in stride by injecting humor and playfulness in your interactions with others. Use gentle humor in pinpointing certain things that need improvement. Look at the funny side of an otherwise tough situation. Laugh at your mistake and forgive others of theirs. 

Remember that your future lies in your hands. Developing your emotional intelligence will go a long way in paving success in your relationships with others.


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