EQ describes a person’s capacity to identify emotions. Not only other people’s emotions, but also your own emotions. In fact, I believe that you have to start with identifying your own emotions before you can lead others. So EQ is very closely related to self-knowledge.
Here are three steps to improve your emotional intelligence:
1. Identify Your Emotions
Daniel Goleman, a EQ pioneer, and author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, argues that we have two minds. He says:
“In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.”
To develop my mind that feels, I write about my daily emotions in my journal. I first write down my thoughts and then, I take time to examine those thoughts by writing down how they make me feel. Noticing how I am feeling is an empowering first step to a higher EQ.
If you don’t journal, start doing it for the sake of EQ. Identify how you feel and then, what triggers your emotions. Don’t worry about why. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- What are you feeling when:
- you get criticized?
- people ignore you?
- you’re put on the spot?
- you are not appreciated?
- you are blamed?
2. Interpret Your Emotions
Once you have a better picture of how you respond to different situations in life, it’s time to understand them. Think about these things:
- When you’re angry, how do you respond to people?
- And what you do think about that?
- Why do you even get upset, sad, happy, angry, etc., in the first place?
Don’t judge. This is all about understanding your emotions. Nothing more. Nothing less.
If you want to dive deeper, check out a “go-to” dictionary of emotions from Karla McLaren, “The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying To Tell You.”
3. Manage Your Emotions
This is a big part of succeeding in business. A leader doesn’t go with the flow or follow the energy of a group. A leader SETS the mood. But before you can set the mood in groups, you must master setting your internal mood. Consider:
- How do you snap out of a sad mood?
- What do you do to cheer yourself up?
- How do you slow yourself down when you’re too excited?
If not, work on it. Because you must have control over your emotions to manage them.
What you will find is this: When you can identify your own emotions, you will also get better at identifying other people’s emotions. And that’s exactly what EQ means.
Look beyond the emotional wall most of us put up. We all experience sadness, happiness, anger, guilt, fear, disappointment. But you have to recognize that. Too often, we just go on with life not realizing that we have those emotions ourselves or we ignore them and push them down (exploding later). When we do that, we will never become an impactful leader. More importantly: We won’t develop self-awareness. And therefore, we can’t get the most out of our life.
A real leader knows the emotions of another person. But it all starts with knowing yourself first.