EI is the ability to notice, identify, understand and manage our own feelings and the emotions of others.

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EI has many benefits:

• Emotionally intelligent people are not as stressed and anxious as others. In my experience, they are usually happier and have better emotional stability, mental health and physical well-being.

• I’ve also seen how people who are emotionally intelligent have better, stronger relationships all around, whether with partners, friends, workmates, relatives or anyone they get to know or routinely meet.

• Certain EI qualities play into the top 10 vital skills for the future workforce, as defined by the World Economic Forum. Furthermore, 71% of hiring managers say they value high EI over IQ.

• As leaders, emotionally intelligent people are proven to be more effective. Research also says that, in terms of performance, EI is more important than IQ when people with equivalent academic backgrounds — say MBAs — are compared.

You just have to have some understanding of EI, learn some tools to help you and practice them.

1. Recognize your feelings.

Observe your emotions as you experience them and identify them for what they are — anger, hurt, jealousy, happiness. Or, if you can’t find a single word, describe them. For example, it could be a “sick-in-the-gut feeling” or “bubbling and high-energy.” Although these experiences are personal and subjective, naming them enables you to see them as things separate from you, not integral or attached to you. Recognize what they mean to you and how they affect you, your mood and your behavior. When you recognize what it is you’re facing, this detachment helps you to control your feelings and manage them better instead of them controlling you! Marc Brackett’s mood meter is a great tool to assist.

2. Assess yourself.

 Do half a SWOT analysis on yourself. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Be realistic — not too harsh or too imaginative. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses gives you a reminder to put your skills and qualities to good use; identify ways in which you need development and how to improve. You can also do this activity with your staff or team members to identify how best to develop and optimize their performance. Knowing your own weaknesses and others’ strengths enables you to delegate appropriately, too.

3. Use mindfulness. 

This means developing the practice of being wholly present in the moment and aware of everything around us and in us, including the environment, physical sensations, our thoughts and our feelings for certain periods of time. Studies have shown that mindfulness is clearly linked to improvement in leaders — both in their professional and their personal capacities.

4. Listen with tolerance, compassion and empathy.

Instead of expressing your own emotional needs through your own feelings and their enactment, imagine how other people might feel and identify their emotions. This can help you to empathize with them and give an appropriate response to them and their needs. Attune yourself to the emotions of others, and you can respond in the most appropriate way to any circumstance — whether it’s reassuring a staff member who is wary of a certain assignment, motivating someone who missed out on a promotion or enthusing a large audience. Empathetic leaders listen carefully, are approachable and recognize an underlying emotion, so their staff feel acknowledged and understood.

5. Be curious and encouraging.

Show an interest in your team members’ hopes, dreams and goals. Help them to realize them and to succeed. Support them in acknowledging their own stresses, challenges and barriers and help them discover ways to address them, find solutions and act.

6. Practice social awareness. 

Notice your environment and context, socially and organizationally. Leaders consistently interact with others, so social awareness is essential to recognizing their moods, states and feelings — from the expression on their face to their body language to what they say and what they do. Organizationally, be aware of strategies, decisions priorities, politics and trends and communicate them. Be aware of people’s needs and know how to provide for them.

EI encourages compassion globally and helps to develop our connections with one another. Develop your EI now, and I believe you will have the skills and ability to holistically succeed in all aspects of work and life — even in these turbulent times.

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