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Ask a leadership expert

Ask a leadership expert:
How Do I Improve My Emotional Intelligence?

By Jenn DeWall Confidence and Leadership Coach & Keynote Speaker & Trainer.

Emotional intelligence is a major indicator of professional success today. Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is our ability to be aware of and manage our own emotions and recognize the emotions of others. There is a reason that 75% of Fortune 500 companies use emotional intelligence training tools! Not only that, but every additional point in your EQ score can mean an additional $1,300 to your annual salary! 

Most of us have had experiences with a manager or boss with a low EQ, and it is miserable! Working with someone who lacks self-awareness and empathy or has frequent unpredictable emotional outbursts can be extremely stressful. Don’t be that manager! Anyone aspiring to grow in their career can benefit from improving their emotional intelligence skills. 

Here are my top 3 tips for improving your EQ: 

1. Practice Mindfulness to Manage Your Emotions. Emotional regulation is a huge part of being a successful leader. Managing stress, regulating negative emotions, and building self-awareness is the key to a high EQ. Mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years in many different ways. It may take some time to find the technique that works best for you. One of my favorite techniques is to take a mindful walk. Simply strolling through my neighborhood, taking time to be completely silent and closer to nature, can be very calming. Journaling and gratitude practices can help you become aware of your thoughts and emotions. Some people find yoga or meditation helpful in managing stress and clearing the mind. Simple breathing techniques can calm negative emotions quickly and can be done anywhere. If you are feeling stressed, try closing your eyes, taking a deep breath, and just noticing how you feel. Then, slowly make your exhales last longer than your inhales for a few more breaths and check in with yourself again. Relax your shoulders and continue breathing until you are ready to resume your normal activity. 

2. Practice Empathy. Once you become skilled at being aware of your emotions and managing them effectively, applying that knowledge to your relationships by practicing empathy is important. Work on noticing verbal and non-verbal cues about how others are feeling. If you see a co-worker looking frazzled, you might take a moment to empathize with that feeling and offer help. Empathy requires developing some curiosity. Don’t jump to negative conclusions about someone else’s actions! Instead, get curious about what they are going through or how they approach a situation. Seeing another person’s perspective can help you find a resolution if there is a conflict on a team. 

3. Work with a Coach. In some ways, working with a coach is all about building emotional intelligence. A great coach will help you reflect on your communication style, habits and actions to build self-awareness. They can provide valuable feedback, help you practice your EQ skills and get a clear picture of where you need improvement. EQ is a set of skills that can be learned and strengthened, and working with a coach can help you set goals in this area and stay accountable to them. The right coach can help you shift your mindset, build confidence and grow as a professional and as an individual.

Jenn DeWall is a leadership speaker, facilitator, trainer, and podcast host. Jenn is a Millennial leadership and workplace culture expert based in Denver, CO. Do you want to create a culture of belonging? Contact Jenn today.

Are you looking for an engaging keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, or trainer? Book Jenn for your leadership needs today!

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