Five Things Anyone Can Do to Develop Emotional Intelligence

Published on
September 29, 2022
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The importance and power of emotional intelligence (or EQ) cannot be overstated. It is hands down one of the most important leadership characteristics that you should assess, develop, and continue to grow throughout your career.

Make the time to regularly assess your EQ, ask for feedback and incorporate it into your daily life. You’ll feel the difference, and so will your team!

We see it everyday in our work at BetterManager.

  1. Take time for Reflection

At BetterManager, one of the questions we ask our people leaders on our 360° Survey is “How often do you take time to reflect?” Most of the leaders we coach realize that this is a real area of need.

Taking the time to “get off the dancefloor, and get on the balcony” is a metaphor for rising above the work so you can be more strategic and reflect on what is working, what is not working and what are you learning.

Many managers I have coached now take time daily or at least a few times a week to get out of “doing mode” and have some quiet time to reflect on their goals and their vision.

2. Keep a gratitude list

Oprah Winfrey says; “the more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is to celebrate.” When you are feeling anxious or stressed, it’s easy to overlook the many things we have to be grateful for.

Starting or ending your day by writing down what you’re grateful for can do wonders for your well-being. Where and what we focus our attention on often determines how we feel.

Taking the time to appreciate the little things on a regular basis can make all the difference. Perspective, perspective, perspective.

3. Be a stellar listener who makes people “feel heard”

Becoming a better listener is one of the most critical skills for leaders and people managers to cultivate. We often take listening for granted because we are more interested in talking.

At the Coaches Training Institute, we learned to always think about the three levels of listening. What distinguishes the three levels is where your focus lies as you listen to whomever you are communicating with.

Level 1 Listening focuses primarily on yourself, your own thoughts or agenda. You are listening with the intent to respond. You’re actually listening to the voices in your head. Have you ever heard those voices? They are thinking about what you need and should say next. This type of listening doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to connect with someone and truly hear what they need.

At Level 2, you are listening for what someone is saying beneath their words. You are fully present and your focus is solely on them. You are listening with curiosity, and you are better able to reflect. When you listen like this, people will begin feeling heard. And that’s what it’s all about.

If you’re going to build high-trust relationships with members of your team, you need to ensure those you lead feel valued and appreciated. It starts with them feeling heard and creating an environment where they can safely and comfortably share their ideas, feedback, and feelings.

At Level 3, your focus is not only on the conversation but also on the environment. It involves everything at Level 2, plus using your senses, intuition, and openness to receive their message.

In order to become a better listener and leader, you need to be aware of how you are listening. It’s often helpful to start just by taking notice of how you’re listening and which level you’re on.

4. Be aware and intentional with the impact you are trying to create

Donna Hicks, Ph.D. writes in Leading with Dignity; “It is critical for people in leadership to understand the difference between intention and impact”.

People aren’t always aware of the influence and impact their actions have on other people. It is essential to be intentional and think in advance about the outcomes you are seeking to create.

If you don’t approach this with some level of intention, you probably won’t create the outcomes you are seeking. It can be as easy as saying or just taking time to think through: In situation X, I will do behavior Y in order to achieve outcome Z.

5. Slow down, to move fast

Don’t underestimate the power of the pause. Our work culture and society tend to celebrate moving (and failing) fast. In my experience, however, it is critical to creating time to slow down and focus.

Learning to deliberately take pause, even if just momentarily, can make a major impact on the quality of your conversations and your relationships.

Developing a practice of slowing down to take stock of a given situation or environment can often be the key to better decision making and moving faster toward delivering your long-term goals. To be clear, this should not be confused with avoiding or dragging out decisions.

At the onset, it might even feel implausible to temporarily remove yourself from the demands of your busy schedule. In my experience, however, the top-performing teams and organizations are often those that have learned the lesson of slowing down to speed up.

Read more about Emotional Intelligence, What It Is, and Why It Matters for Successful
Leadership in this recent Q&A interview with BetterManager co-founder Wendy Hanson

View the episode transcript

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