Practicing emotional intelligence (EQ) is a guaranteed way to boost relational sustainability, life engagement, morale, and all-around impact at home, work, or just about anywhere. Over the past decade, authors like Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis led the way in sharing the science behind our interactions with others, but if you don’t have the time for a deep dive into the research, here is a quick guide to get you in the bulls-eye of the theory’s four main components: a) self-awareness b) self-management c) social awareness and d) relational skills.
1. Find your lane
Self-awareness evolves best from a strength-based perspective. Each of us has a gift that flows naturally and produces exponential results. Find it. Nurture it. As Mark Twain says, “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
2. Make sure the truth about you is good, not just the press
A wise man once said, “It’s only true if it’s true.” Don’t work to look good. Work to BE good. Daily humility and the occasional, honest look in the mirror are EQ foundations. Sadly, too many people focus more on keeping up appearances, shaping the narrative, steering the conversations, and avoiding authentic relationships. As they say in the fitness world… focus on your core.
3. Don’t spread a bad day
Emotional intelligence has a lot to do with early recognition of our own feelings and taking positive steps to reduce subsequent assholery. Own your bad moods and use healthy strategies to get back on track. Common winning strategies include meditation, deep breaths, fresh air, exercise, and other mind/ body work.
4. Master the 90
Social awareness means mastering the 90% of communication that experts agree matters most – the non-verbal part. We are often planning our strategy or next words instead of paying attention to gestures, looks, context, rhythm, and other clues to what is really going on. Dates, business deals, and entire careers go bad over non-verbal misunderstanding. Some people are born with a higher capacity for this kind of assessment, and women tend to do better than men, but everyone can sharpen this skill. Get good at reading and expressing the non-verbal.
5. Make it a Win/ Win, Always
Humanity would achieve instant world peace if everyone genuinely pursued this one. Instead, we naturally gravitate toward the Win/Lose paradigm. It is tough to overcome our inborn scarcity mindset and instinct for ego protection. You should absolutely advocate for what you need and want in this life, AND you should absolutely help others achieve the same thing. Our lesser selves hold onto attitudes like, “In life, there are winners and losers”, or “There is only one first place.” Sadly, it is these perspectives lead to the corrosive grievances, open conflict, and pain we see too often in our society.
EQ success means that people genuinely feel better having known you, whether for two minutes or two decades.