A doctor with bad bedside manner.
A boss who explodes at people. A partner who refuses to talk things out.
What do they all have in common? A lack of emotional intelligence.
When we started talking about emotional intelligence, Michele, one of our readers, emailed to ask “but what is causing this behavior?” This is a great question Michele - acknowledging the cause is the best place to start when you’re looking to improve your emotional intelligence!
We can imagine the dozens of reasons why the doctor doesn’t take the time to connect with his patients, or for the boss exploding, or why the partner won’t talk things out. If it is a pattern of behavior, and not just an isolated incident, it’s time to look inside.
Just visualize this scenario for our blasting boss. His kids left Legos on the floor this morning. Again. He stepped on them with bare feet. Again. He missed his window for a clear drive to work and got caught in a traffic jam. His assistant wears a scent that gives him a headache. He bottles all these things up and, combined with a lack of sleep, when one of his team makes a mistake that triggers the memory of a colossal client catastrophe… BOOM, he explodes! Again.
Emotional intelligence is a reflection of our own thoughts and beliefs about the situation at hand and/or the past experiences we’ve had.
Remember the definition from Dictionary.com? Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
It takes self-awareness to even begin working on our emotional intelligence. Being mindful of what we’re thinking and how we’re internalizing is so important because that is what is driving our actions.
We could even go deeper and consider things that impact our state of mind - what we eat, our sleep, our exercise - all have an impact. Although we’re not going to dive into this aspect, it’s good to realize that without a certain level of self-care, it will be difficult to be in the mindset it takes to have a healthy EQ.
Managing our thoughts and beliefs helps manage our emotions. When we put daily practices in place, it helps us be more resilient and raises our emotional intelligence. A few things anyone can start practicing immediately:
Gratitude – every morning and every evening, list a couple of things you are grateful for.
Writing your intentions every morning and every evening. What do you want? How do you want to feel. Write them in the present tense so your mind starts to think that way.
Be aware of your own intent – is it helpful or hurtful?
Change your perception of others – start believing in people and visualizing them successful.
Deep breathing to reset and recharge. Pause and look at something in nature. Clear your thoughts.
Move – stretch, dance, or walk while you practice gratitude, or listen to great tunes, or focus on your intentions.
A few of my favorite books for increasing self-awareness and EQ are:
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Do you have a practice or intention to help you manage your thoughts and beliefs? Please share in the comments.