Intentionally planning and working to grow your emotional intelligence drastically enhances your ability to achieve goals and find success in both your personal and professional endeavors.  A high state of emotional intelligence separates the mediocre from the extraordinary.

Emotional intelligence (also known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.

According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize emotional intelligence, there are five key elements to EQ:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

Let’s explore basic definitions of these elements and a handful of ways to grow in each EQ  trait.

Self-awareness is conscious knowledge of one’s character, feelings, motives, and desires.  Three productive ways to grow in self-awareness include:

  1. Take an online personality test. There are many options from DISC to Gallup Strength Finders. The accuracy of these tests will provide an incredible look at your strengths, weaknesses, triggers, motivations, and how you best interact with others.
  2. Ask trusted friends to describe your personality strengths and weaknesses. Do not become offended or arrogant by their responses.
  3. Keep a “trigger” journal – write down situations and scenarios that “trigger” your emotional responses such as anger, fear, jealousy, inspiration, calmness, euphoria, etc…

Self-regulation is the ability to manage and control disruptive emotions and impulses. Three scientific ways to grow in self-regulation include:

  1. Use cognitive reframing which involves challenging your thoughts and replacing them with positive ones. By rethinking your thoughts, you can develop a healthier reaction to challenging situations. Silence the critic inside your head and replace weak thoughts with strong thoughts.
  2. Develop a weekly exercise program that activity increases endorphins which boosts your mood and helps combat stress. A healthy body fuels a healthy mind, and vice versa.
  3. Practice mindful breathing techniques when you feel stress, anxiety, and anger. Research the science, it works!

Motivation is what explains why people initiate, continue, or terminate a certain behavior at a particular time. Three simple ways to grow in motivation include:

  1. Create precise goals and define “why” they are necessary. The bigger the desire, the greater the motivation.
  2. Surround yourself with high performing and high achieving people. The people you spend the most time within your inner circle will 100% influence how you live your life.
  3. Intentionally celebrate everyday small successes and the simple gratitude’s of life. Write them down or share them with someone daily.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Three seamless ways to grow in empathy include:

  1. Be curious and open to learning about others. Seek to ask “why” instead of simply forming a judgement.
  2. Listen and respond with an attitude of “how can I help you?” Be sincere.
  3. Get out of your usual environment and spend time with people who are different than you.

Social skills are the skills we use to communicate and interact with each other, both verbally and non-verbally, through gestures, body language and our personal appearance. Three easy ways to grow in social skills include:

  1. Stop being negative, being overly critical, and being an over complainer. No one likes these types of people.
  2. Use open body language – stand or sit up straight, uncross your arms and legs, turn towards people, make eye contact, relax your shoulders, and smile. You speak more with your body than your tongue.
  3. Be genuinely interested in other people and their stories – ask questions to explore conversations deeper and think proactively about how your words and actions will affect others. Sticks and stones do break bones, and words can both hurt and encourage people.

Live the Pursuit of Growth.