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Emotional Intelligence: Key Skills to Develop & Increase Your EQ

Emotional Intelligence Key Skills to Develop & Increase Your EQ

To become a better leader and help people around you grow, you need to have a high degree of emotional intelligence. The ability to recognize, use and manage one’s own emotions as well as those of other people can open career opportunities.

People with good social intelligence tend to have more success in life – because they are better able to navigate office politics, have more career options and enjoy a higher salary.

Being emotionally intelligent also brings with it many perks in your personal life as well. In this article, we’ll look at what emotional intelligence is, why it’s important and how you can improve yours. Let’s dive deep into this topic.

What is Emotional Intelligence or EQ? Meaning & Definition

Many people confuse emotional intelligence with regular intelligence (IQ) – thinking that if their IQ is high enough, they do not need to worry about empathy or managing relationships.

The truth is that anyone who wants to progress in their career must develop this skill. EQ skills are abilities to recognize emotions in oneself and others, evaluate them correctly, and use these emotions effectively.

What is Emotional Intelligence or EQ Meaning & Definition

It can be broken down into four distinct parts that combine to give you a total picture of your emotional makeup:

  1. Self-Awareness means recognizing your moods, strengths, and weaknesses. People with high emotional awareness are highly self-aware, while those who lack this skill tend to be unaware of their feelings.
  2. Self-Regulation is all about managing one’s emotions so that they do not control you. People who have great emotional intelligence can manage their anger or stress and even emotional signals, while people who struggle in this area allow their emotions to overwhelm them. If someone meets an obstacle, instead of ranting or expressing frustration, he or she knows how to handle this situation in a positive way.
  3. Motivation is achieved when you can maintain your focus and energy levels despite challenges. High-EQ individuals are not easily discouraged by the little failures that inevitably crop up. They are determined to keep going.
  4. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. People with high EQ can put themselves in other people’s shoes, empathizing when someone else is sad or happy. Someone who struggles in this area might be described as selfish because he does not take into account the feelings of others.

Why is Emotional Intelligence so Important?

You might be wondering why you should care about emotional intelligence. The truth is that high EQ makes a person a more valuable employee. They are better able to work in teams, have stronger communication skills and inspire confidence in their bosses.

In the past, people with high IQs were viewed as successful. However, studies have shown that EQ plays a bigger role in determining job performance than analytical thinking skills do.

For example, employees who lack social skills find it hard to fit into organizations but they can still perform well if their job requires them to focus on one task at a time without having to interact with others. But for communication-intensive jobs like sales or management, this skill is critical.

5 Benefits & Effects of Emotional Intelligence

1. Better Communication

The ability to understand the feelings of others will allow you to be less aggressive when dealing with people. After all, who likes being around someone who is constantly angry or rude?

By improving your emotional intelligence, you can also improve your listening skills and learn to encourage cooperation among team members instead of forcing them into submission.

2. Better Teamwork

High EQ individuals are more sensitive to other people’s needs, which makes it easier for them to work as part of a group – even if that means they must compromise on some issues or give up some credit.

One person may not contribute as much as another, but high-EQ workers find ways to compensate and avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.

3. Improved Self-Awareness

Emotional awareness is the awareness of one’s own emotions. If you are self-aware, you recognize how your feelings affect you and those around you.

By increasing your emotional intelligence, it becomes easier to understand yourself better. It will also make it easier for other people to deal with you too.

4. Better Decision Making

People who have great EQs know what they see, hear, believe, and feel. This ability can help them make better decisions because they tend to consider others’ perspectives before concluding.

They consider all factors involved in any given situation instead of rushing into anything or making rash decisions due to anger. They spend time thinking things through instead of jumping to conclusions.

5. Higher Productivity & Happiness

High emotional intelligence makes you more productive. You can understand your strengths and weaknesses better, so you can design a career path that suits your skills and values best.

It is no surprise then that employees with high EQs tend to be happier, too. We all want better lives for ourselves, don’t we?

Building Emotional Intelligence: Key Skills to Develop & Increase Your EQ

There are 4 primary emotional skills to develop to increase EQ:


Individuals with high emotional intelligence are defined by their ability to recognize, understand and use emotions in beneficial ways. These individuals are far more likely to take an active role in managing both their moods and the moods of others around them.

They tend to be self-motivated, driven, hardworking people who are constantly trying to better themselves. Self-awareness allows them to acknowledge the gap between where they are now, versus where they want or need to be. This gap is what drives them forward.

Emotional Expression

Emotionally intelligent people are always willing to express themselves even though they know it may hurt others’ feelings. They recognize the importance of clear communication.

And so, they are careful about how they communicate their emotions with others via words and body language.

For instance, if someone angers them, rather than hitting or cursing at them, emotionally intelligent individuals choose different ways of expressing themselves such as saying ” I feel frustrated by what you’ve said.”

You should also avoid overlooking the power of nonverbal communication which includes facial expressions, tone & speed of speech, gestures, eye contact.

These are all factors that can affect someone’s emotional state. By being aware of what you communicate, you can better understand how it affects the people around you, and this will build positive relationships with them.

Decision making

Making decisions quickly when necessary is a key success factor for leaders making this competency extremely important. Strong decision-makers have a high level of trustworthiness and remain calm under pressure.

They can separate emotion from fact, weigh the pros and cons of a decision carefully and understand the implications on others before making a choice.

Emotional Management

People who have high emotional intelligence tend to be highly self-aware. This self-awareness is a key factor in their ability to manage emotions well in various situations. They know that strong emotions can influence decision-making.

For example, when angry or frustrated, we often make bad decisions that negatively impact our work performance and productivity.

With greater awareness of their feelings, people with high EQs are more able to control their reactions & behaviors when faced with challenging situations. As a result, they are less likely to lose control of their emotions.

Social Skills

Highly emotionally intelligent people are very good at recognizing other people’s emotions. They also can interpret the meaning behind those emotions. This allows them to interact with individuals in a much more effective manner.

Instead of taking someone else’s actions personally, they understand that their behavior is based on his or their feelings.

Emotional skills allow us to build positive relationships with others through empathy, emotional understanding, patience, tolerance & courtesy. These are all critical factors in developing long-lasting and healthy relationships at work and home.

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List of 15 Examples of Emotional Intelligence in Practice

These are 15 real-life examples of emotional intelligence:

  1. Being able to accept criticism and responsibility.
  2. Being able to move on after making a mistake.
  3. Being able to read between the lines.
  4. Having empathy for others.
  5. Knowing when to listen and when to talk in a group setting.
  6. Knowing how to react in stressful situations.
  7. Not holding grudges or keeping a scorecard of wrong-doings towards others in your head – i.e., not being vengeful.
  8. Not letting your emotions get the best of you.
  9. Not forcing your opinions on others.
  10. Recognizing other peoples’ feelings & being aware of your feelings.
  11. Respecting others and treating everyone equally – regardless of age, gender, race, culture, etc.
  12. Speaking to someone in a non-judgmental manner and not labeling people based on their race/gender/culture/appearance etc.
  13. Take responsibility for your actions even when no one is looking or holding you accountable for them.
  14. Treating all mistakes as learning opportunities rather than hating yourself over them forever.
  15. Understanding that communication is a two-way street and the other person also has something to say. You should value them as a person & respect their opinions.

How to Measure Emotional Intelligence

There are numerous ways of measuring emotional intelligence, but most of them use a combination of self-assessment and the results of personality tests.

These assessments usually include questions that allow you to rate your abilities in particular areas, for example:

  • How good are you at dealing with stressful situations?
  • Do you know how to calm yourself down when faced with a difficult situation?
  • Do you make excuses or pretend not to notice if someone is angry or upset with you?
  • Can you focus on the issue rather than getting sidetracked by others’ emotions?

There are many different tests out there that explore these and other factors in greater detail. There is also a high chance your EQ will be tested during the interview process.

So it’s important to have some sort of idea of where your strengths & weaknesses lie before it happens. Being aware of your emotional responses will help you see your true potential and where you need to put in greater effort.

How to Improve Emotional Intelligence

Here are some practical tips to improve your emotional intelligence:

  • Keep a journal of how you feel and why.
  • Ask yourself, “Why did I react that way?” or “Was my reaction completely appropriate to the situation?”
  • Practice calming techniques when you find yourself getting upset. Breathe in and out slowly and concentrate on something positive to help bring you back down.
  • Be aware of what is going on around you and try not to give too much power to your thoughts or emotions.
  • Practice empathy, kindness, and compassion for others by treating every person as a fellow human being whom you respect.
  • Understand that people have different agendas & motives so there may be more going on than immediately meets the eye.
  • Be aware of other peoples’ body language when speaking with them. What are they telling you beyond what their words are saying?
  • When involved in group discussions, try not to dominate it but do contribute actively when possible. Listen to others & learn from them also.

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace and It Affects Employees & Work Environment

Emotional intelligence affects employees’ performance and how they are viewed by their peers & managers. The better your EQ, the more positive feedback you’ll receive from staff with higher levels of emotional intelligence.

The following 5 benefits have been proven to contribute to a better work environment:

  1. When employees have positive relationships, they feel less stressed and more satisfied. This means they are easier to get along with. They also spend less time worrying and more focused on getting their work done.
  2. An emotionally intelligent employee communicates well and listens effectively. This encourages open communication between colleagues and helps build trust. It also provides clarity in the workplace as people know what is expected of them which minimizes confusion & misunderstanding.
  3. Workers who can control their emotions & remain calm under pressure tend to be viewed as leaders by others. The ability to remain composed during stressful situations shows that someone has influenced not only over themselves but those around them as well.
  4. Self-awareness helps people understand their strengths & weaknesses. This awareness contributes to a better work ethic as employees will know what they’ll have to improve on and how best to achieve these goals.
  5. People with emotional intelligence are drawn towards other emotionally intelligent individuals. These types of people enjoy working together because there is less misunderstanding between them; instead, there is trust & open communication. It’s like the saying goes, “birds of a feather flock together.”

Why Emotional Intelligence Is Important in Leadership & Manager Role

The overall emotional intelligence of a team or organization is affected by the manager’s behavior & how he leads.

Studies show that employees tend to mimic their leader’s behavior so it’s critical for managers to not only demonstrate good emotional intelligence but also foster it in others.

In fact, here are six key areas to consider:

  1. Managerial effectiveness has been proven to be enhanced when they display higher levels of emotional intelligence, specifically by helping others get more done with less wasted effort.
  2. Managers earn more respect from staff when they demonstrate empathy, integrity, and honesty. It also encourages open communication between peers & helps build trust through transparency.
  3. Management meetings run more smoothly because everyone knows what is expected without guessing or having to ask.
  4. The staff feels their needs are being considered by their manager and become more motivated to meet the organization’s objectives.
  5. Managers with good emotional intelligence display staff motivation because they know what motivates their employees is different than what motivates them. It fosters respect, trust & better communication in both directions.
  6. A successful team has each member working together towards the same goals which makes it easier for everyone to prioritize their work. When people can be themselves, they feel valued & respected which eliminates negative office politics & improves morale.

List of 5 Books for Developing Emotional Intelligence

The following five books are great reads for improving your emotional intelligence:

1. On Emotional Intelligence – Harvard Business Review

The Harvard Business Review’s book offers essays from some of the world’s most renowned experts on emotional intelligence as a wonderful place to start. You’ll get a sample of what’s out there in terms of EQ research and what you can do to start developing your EQ right now.

2. Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ – Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman describes the distinctions between IQ and EQ in his book, maintaining that honest self-improvement is impossible without improving one’s EQ.

Goleman provides suggestions and methods that have been found to help you create better connections, notice a change in your job performance, and get on the road toward more self-awareness.

3. The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success – Steve J. Stein & Howard E. Book

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to refocus on how you can improve your performance, The EQ Edge is the book for you.

This book is for you if you’re looking to develop your leadership with emotional abilities.

4. The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change – Stephen R. Covey

This is a timeless text for any future leader. Although emotional intelligence is not the primary focus of this book, it will assist you in enhancing your self-awareness by tapping into your emotions and learning to manage them.

5. Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper when they Create Widespread Empathy – Dev Patnaik & Peter Mortensen

This is a must-read book for any leader. It’s full of excellent information on how to build a company culture that encourages people to empathize with one another (and express their feelings outwardly).

Emotional Intelligence FAQs

What are the 5 characteristics of emotional intelligence?

Emotionally intelligent individuals possess a number of key skills that help them succeed. 5 of these characteristics are self-awareness, self-regulation (or self-control), motivation, empathy, and social or interpersonal skills.

When combined, these abilities form someone who is emotionally savvy and understands how to effectively communicate with their colleagues or employees.

What are the 7 signs of emotional intelligence?

If you experience the following, you are likely someone who is very emotionally intelligent: individuals seek your advice and feel comfortable sharing their situations with you, you are self-aware, you genuinely want both positive and negative feedback if it is constructive, and you enjoy giving praise more than receiving it (but are very appreciative when you are praised), people share their ideas with you for feedback, you do not hold grudges, and saying sorry comes naturally to you.

What are the 4 types of emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is made up of several different subcategories. These subcategories are: social awareness (reading body language, listening to the needs of others), relationship management (being clear about your expectations and relating your goals with your employee’s goals), self-management (being disciplined with your emotional control and avoiding impulsivity), and self-awareness (knowing both your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your thoughts and feelings at a given time).

What are emotional intelligence examples?

There are many ways to use emotional intelligence. For instance, emotional intelligence is shown if you: welcome genuine feedback, solve problems collaboratively, use active listening skills, have empathy for those around you, admit when you made a mistake, accept responsibility for your actions, relate your goals with the goals of your colleagues, respect those around you, stay authentic at work, and allow others to share their issues with you when they need someone to talk to.


In conclusion, there are many essential concepts to understand in the realm of leadership development and emotional intelligence.

If you’re still wondering whether improving your emotional intelligence is beneficial, then I strongly suggest that you look into the information I’ve provided to help guide you in discovering both your strengths and weaknesses.

You will then be able to make the correct decision.

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