Emotional intelligence can help you be a better leader

Are you emotionally intelligent? In today’s workplace, emotional intelligence — or EQ — is considered as important as IQ. As many of our jobs rely on working well with other people, more workplaces have turned to EQ as a reliable piece of information about the quality of their employees. The ability to connect with other people authentically, effectively and positively is a valued skill in most workplaces.

Developing emotional intelligence can help you be a better leader. Here are some important ways anyone can develop more emotional intelligence:

Take an honest look at your interactions with others. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you listen without judgment?
  • Do you give people the benefit of the doubt?
  • Do you allow issues that come up to be resolved or do you hold a grudge?
  • Do you accept constructive criticism?
  • Do you treat others like you would want to be treated?
  • Finally, do you allow others to shine while acknowledging your own accomplishments?

Reflect on these questions. You may even want to write them down to reflect. Emotionally intelligent people can answer yes to most of these questions. They have quality interactions with other people that lead to strong connections. It’s okay to realize you have room to grow in these areas. Simply start becoming more aware of these traits and how you can improve on them. The awareness and working for positive change will go far.

Evaluate your ability to stay calm in stressful situations. One major component of emotional intelligence is self awareness and self control. When things go wrong, do you blame others, get angry or accuse? Or, do you take a deep breath, look at your options and proceed with a plan using the resources around you? How do you relate to other people when they make mistakes? It can be easy to feel stressed at work and get overwhelmed. It can also be hard to automatically feel calm just because you want to or think you should. Instead, try practicing some mindfulness during times you’re not stressed first. Meditation can help slow your mind and keep you calm around the clock. You can also try other ways to channel your frustrations such as journaling or taking a walk. If you are struggling with self-control during work, you may want to give yourself a few moments before responding to others. Sometimes those few minutes can be the difference between rage and peace.

Practice putting yourself in your employees’ shoes. Empathy is the hallmark of EQ. Exercising empathy in the workplace can go a long way. Emotionally intelligent people are able to see things from other people’s points of view. Pause during conflict or an uncomfortable situation and simply think, “How might this situation look from my colleague’s or employee’s perspective?” Then, proceed with renewed perspective. This is particularly important during high-stress times or in conflict. It can be easy to forget what others are experiencing and feeling, so making note to think of others now will help when you’re stressed, too.

Finally, take care of yourself. Exercising emotional intelligence means taking breaks when you need to. Look for ways to practice self-care during the day and during your off-hours. You might have a relaxing routine you do each night or a particular hobby you enjoy. These things are important for EQ individuals. If you find yourself stressed during the day, try taking a few deep breaths stepping away from your desk for a few moments to collect your thoughts and emotions before approaching a potentially heated situation. Self-regulation is a hallmark of EQ.

Developing EQ is not usually something you can develop overnight. Instead, it’s a lifelong process that takes ongoing practice and attention. Don’t be frustrated if you’re not adopting these practices right away. An important first step is realizing these traits and practicing them. No one is perfect right away!