Admit it – it takes just a couple of days or weeks to memorise and master a recital piece but it could take months, even years to forgive a person, get over a distressing experience, get over a breakup, or accept failures. Dealing with negative emotions and strengthening social relationships can be hard if you have low emotional intelligence or EQ.
According to Talent Smart, 90% of performers in workplaces have high EQ. While intelligence quotient (IQ) is necessary to become successful in academic endeavours, EQ is extremely needed for one to develop and maintain close personal relationships. People who have low EQ are at risk of suffering from depression, engaging in drug use, and committing crimes and suicides.
Just because you have a low emotional intelligence now, doesn’t mean it stays low for the rest of your life. Unlike IQ, emotional intelligence evolves and improves if you choose to. Here are 5 ways on how you can strengthen your EQ and improve your relationship with other people.
1. Controlling negative emotions
How we feel affects how we think and act, and make decisions. It’s easy to drop words you don’t really mean in the heat of a conversation but its hard the moment you realise you shouldn’t have done that. Learning how to effectively manage one’s emotion is the first step towards improving emotional intelligence. Your goal is to control those negative feelings so they don’t overwhelm you and cause you to behave unbecomingly.
The best way to control negative emotions is to determine and understand them. It’s important that we look at it below the surface level. So for instance, if you feel you’re jealous of your colleague at work because she got promoted. Ask yourself – is it really jealous that you feel or you’re just frustrated because you haven’t achieved your goal?
2. Expressing disappointments and frustrations appropriately
Emotional intelligence also includes the ability to set boundaries, say ‘no’ if necessary, and become assertive of what you think is right. There are better ways to deliver bad news, points of disagreement, or refusal without sounding appalling to others. For instance, instead of addressing a colleague as if you’re accusing them using phrases like ‘you shouldn’t have...’ and ‘you need to...’ you can just say ‘I feel that you shouldn’t...’ or ‘I feel that you need to...’ and so on. The wrong choice of word can lead to different interpretations so it’s important that we stay careful.
3. Understanding others in a candid way
Our ability to understand others affects our ability to communicate and maintain harmonious relationships with people close to use. Instead of thinking that your friend is a snob because he no longer communicates with you, why not open up the possibility that he’s busy at work? If someone frowns upon looking at you, you don’t immediately conclude that such person is annoyed at you, or doesn’t want you. He could be feeling unwell. Maybe he has high fever or his head is aching a lot. Being non-judgemental about others reduces the likelihood of misunderstanding.
4. Expressing emotions in intimate relationships
Psychologist John Gottman calls expressing intimate emotions as ‘bidding’. He defines bidding as any method of positive connection between two people desiring a close relationship. It can be done verbally like saying ‘I love you’, ‘thank you, ‘I appreciate what you’re doing for me’, and so on. Or it could be through body language like hugging, smiling, arm around the shoulder, etc.
5. Properly addressing stressful situations
It could be the traffic, or an irate customer, or your incompetent boss who’s making you furious and agitated. But, before you say or do things you’ll regret in the end, think about it ten times, more if necessary. Breathe. Go out and take a walk, divert your attention, do something you find enjoyable. If you feel anxious or nervous, wash your face with cold water. Cool temperature lowers down anxiety levels. If you feel depressed, get some exercise. Physical activities stimulate the release of endorphins – the ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain. Staying cool amidst an extremely stressful situation can be hard but once you get used to it, things become easier.