How to Access and Develop Your EQ Skills

by Dec 28, 20180 comments

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Do you know how you perform and function emotionally?  Do you believe that this is having an impact on your relationships, career and personal well-being?

This article aims to assist you to have a greater sense of how you are functioning in terms of Emotional Intelligence and what impact that is having on your life. We discuss EQ and the skills of EQ, then there is a small questionnaire so you can assess your EQ, and then some ideas of how to grow in EQ.  You may be an EQ giant or an EQ ant but the fun is in growing!

Emotional Intelligence, according to Salovey and Mayer, the researchers at Harvard who coined the term “Emotional Intelligence” is really your ability to recognize, understand and usefully use your emotions in your relationship with yourself and others. The Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence divides Emotional Intelligence up into 3 areas: Know Yourself, Choose Yourself and Give Yourself.  Each of these areas has specific skills that you can develop to enhance your emotional intelligence.

But why should you enhance your Emotional Intelligence?

In general, your Emotional Intelligence is a stronger, or as strong (depending on which research you listen to) predictor of your success in life in all areas!  It is on a par or more important than your IQ and you can improve it by working on it!  It affects the quality of your relationships by determining how well you can communicate, resolve conflict, handle stress and a huge variety of other soft skills that are fundamental to success in all areas of life.

The categories Know Yourself, Choose Yourself and Give Yourself in the 6 Second Model are further divided into the following Skills.   Choose Yourself looks at ways of Enhancing your Emotional Literacy or your ability to identify what emotions you are feeling at a given time, and what emotions others around you are experiencing – without them necessarily having to tell you.  This is the foundation of emotional intelligence because without this skill, it is often difficult to utilize your emotions intelligently or respond appropriately to how others are reacting and feeling around you. 

Another skill is to Recognize Patterns.  This is important as a manager, leader, parent, spouse, partner, co-worker and friend.  If you can recognize, for example, what will happen if you are put under too much stress – how you or a subordinate or child will feel and then react, you can assist yourself or that person to mitigate the chaos that may ensue, or find ways of dealing with it or expressing themselves or help them (or yourself) to not be under too much stress.  Another example is if you know that when you feel rejected, you are going to start attacking or fighting with your boss, spouse or friend, you can then give them a heads up on you react when you are feeling rejected, or you can figure out what you can do to manage those emotions and the consequent outcome ahead of time.

In Choose Yourself, a pertinent skill is in Applying Consequential Thinking.  This is the skill of looking down the road at the possible outcomes of acting on a certain behavior or emotion. 

Navigate Emotions is another skill under Choose Yourself.   

Take the example of being in a marriage where you feel taken for granted and neglected.  You could rage at your spouse because of the build up of painful emotions, or you could pretend that you aren’t experiencing these feelings.  At some point, you may find yourself packing your bags and walking away.  A few years later, you may deeply regret that you didn’t give the relationship a chance and try to deal with the issues.  Navigating Emotions means working with your emotions and figuring out what you should do with them.

Engaging Intrinsic Motivation is a fantastic skill to enhance if you want to achieve the quality of life and the things in life that mean a lot to you.  To engage your intrinsic motivation means to be motivated internally from within.  Many people need to be managed, pushed and prodded to do the things that they want to do.  Engaging Intrinsic Motivation means you can discipline yourself to get the things done that are a priority to you.  This is an important predictor of your success in life and a big contributor to a high EQ.

There has been so much research about Exercising Optimism that it is almost a cliché these days!  Seeing things in a more positive light and having hope and a little faith has been proven over and over again to be a big determinant of success (and a high EQ).  When I worked with people who had experience brain and spinal injuries, the staff – including myself – could literally predict who would recover well.  I remember one man coming into the ward with an awful brain stem injury.  He couldn’t hold up his head, talk, swallow, walk or eat by himself.  However, his attitude was phenomenal – within months he returned to work almost fully recovered.  This was an almost unheard-of feat. (Don’t berate yourself if you tend to be negative though, it’s not a path to greater optimism!). Looking at things with a little (or a lot of hope) really goes a long way toward your success and is the number one predictor of success or a positive outcome, according to voluminous research.

In Choose Yourself, Empathy is a fundamental skill.  Many people do not know how to really show empathy.  If they have been through a similar experience, then they understand the emotions but if they haven’t, they are often oblivious, insensitive and cold.  Developing your EQ means that you can pause a moment and write down a list or try to imagine how you might feel in a similar circumstance.  It is not being sympathetic because it’s also happened to you, it is not taking responsibility for it and trying to fix the other person’s feelings and circumstances.  It is simply recognizing and acknowledging that people are feeling a certain way and offering your support if they would like it, in the manner they would like it. (Feel free to ask them.)

The final – and possibly most important skill – on which the others hang to some degree, is the ability to Pursue Noble Goals and know your purpose.  This is not necessarily a religious or virtuous purpose, and neither is it about setting small monthly or yearly goals.  Instead, it is about knowing what you want out of life on earth, what you are here to offer and how you plan to offer it.  It could be as simple as I want to beautify my life and the lives of others around me and here is the general way in which I will accomplish this.  Or I am here to heal, or create, or inspire, or raise my family or provide well for my family, or preach, or teach, or learn and share my knowledge, or create play spaces and fun (think Walt Disney) or be an incredible business person.   It doesn’t matter the purpose – there is no end to the variety of our purposes – it just matters that we come to know ours or journey to find it and then offer it.  Again, this skill is fundamental to a high EQ and a successful life.

How Can you Know where your EQ is at?

Very often we are deceived.  Many people think they are incredibly empathic when they sorely lack it.  Others think they don’t have much emotional literacy when in fact they are incredibly emotional literate but struggle to navigate their emotions.  There are a variety of ways to explore your EQ and develop it.  Contact myself or another Six Seconds practitioner for an assessment and coaching session; go on line and do an online EQ assessment, Business Harvard Review has a quick and good one; buy one of the Six Seconds books and you are often offered a free assessments; look up their website; buy Daniel Goleman’s book or read it again if you have got it.  Positive Psychology websites often has great articles on EQ and some links to taking an EQ test.

You can also ask yourself some simple questions to gauge how you are doing with your EQ:

Are your relationships happy, stimulating and generally harmonious or are they draining, fraught with conflict or dissatisfying?

Are you achieving at least some of the important things that you want to achieve in your life, or do you feel that you are always underperforming?

Do you generally feel good about most areas of your life – your physical well-being, your recreation, your relationships, your career, your living circumstances or your hobbies?  Or are you mal-content, dissatisfied and desirous of at least quite a lot of change in your life?

It is as simple as that.  If your answers were more negative, it’s an indicator that your EQ may be lacking. It could just be one small skill that is holding you back tremendously and you could find it very worth your while to book for an assessment and a coaching session with me to address it.  It could make a fundamental change to your life. 

Here are some ways to increase your EQ:

1. Become more conscious and enhance your emotional literacy:

Find a daily time or at least a weekly time to just sit and be mindful.  To just think about your day, your feelings, were you are at, what has been good.  Focus on breathing deeply during this time and just orient to your where and now without any distractions. 

Alternatively, you could write 3 pages of “Morning Pages” where you just write from a stream of consciousness whatever is on your mind as suggested by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way”.  Or get her book and follow her plan to increased consciousness.

2. To increase your Optimism:

Write down three things each day that have gone well that day or have each member of your family take a turn to share theirs at dinner time. 

Write down three or four things you have accomplished and done well each day such as ‘I have great teeth because I have taken care of them”, or “my presentation went better than expected today” or “I packed a really model lunch for my kid’s lunch today”.  You could have ground breaking achievements but many days you may just have little ones and isn’t that fantastic!  

Think of something you feel negative about or write down something you feel negative about and then think how you could help yourself to feel more positively about that situation or what you could do that is in your control to address it and feel more positive in the end.  For example, say your child is acting out and being difficult at the moment.  You could focus on your child’s enthusiasm and great marks or good manners and remember that all is not lost yet!

3. To increase Pursue Noble Goals:

Ask yourself what really makes you happy, where your talents lie, what you have always wanted to do if there were no barriers to doing it, what you excelled at or loved doing as a child.? Set yourself a challenge to enhance this further or explore it further.  Once again, small steps often lead to big things. 

No matter where you are in terms of EQ, chart a course of growth that you will enjoy and don’t forget to celebrate your successes and have fun along the way!