Enhance your Emotional Quotient

People who perceive emotions accurately (both in themselves and others) better understand difficult situations.” – Travis Bradberry

Most of our lives are driven by emotions as we pursue whatever we hope will make us feel good and avoid unpleasant ones. Imagine what your life would be like if you spent much of your time and energy struggling to fix the weather every time it stormed, snowed or grew windy. Yet most of us attempt to do just that with our emotions. We seek help or look for strategies to fix our feelings when we get overwhelmed by them. But we never seek to improve our emotional state by working directly on our emotions. When it comes to achieving success, whether it’s at the work, or in bettering health, or in developing leadership skills, or pursuing your goals, research has revealed that your emotional intelligence is the key and plays a very important role in learning and managing your emotions and of those around you.

When it comes to better self-control, developing dedication and cultivating perseverance, many of us tend to suppress our emotional responses that might get in the way of reaching our long-term aspirations and rely mostly on reason, logic and analysis as opposed to our emotional understanding. But on the contrary, emotions can be a powerful tool to keep you mentally strong to persevere through your efforts with better self-control. Your mental strength is a matter of your emotional intelligence(EQ). Emotional intelligence affects how you manage your behaviour, overcome challenges and make personal decisions to achieve positive results. Building your Emotional intelligence can help you to manage stress, turn your intention into action and achieve your personal and professional goals. It is an important skill to acquire and matters more than your intellect and in a way it is the direct measure of your leadership skill and productivity.

What is your Emotional Quotient ?

Your emotional Intelligence quotient is your ability to recognise understand your own emotions, the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to manage our inner self, our relationships and to manage emotions of others’. Emotional intelligence or your Emotional Quotient is commonly defined by following attributes.

Self-awareness – Your ability to recognise and understand your emotions and how they affect you. This means recognising how they impact your thoughts and actions and how your emotions can help or limit you from achieving your goals.

Self-management – Your ability to manage, control, and adapt your moods, emotions, and responses in a way that allows you to accomplish a task or reach a goal. This also includes your ability of self-control and to control your emotional reactions.

Motivation – Your ability to harness your emotions to motivate yourself and others to take appropriate action, commit, and work towards goals. Instead of trying to force others into action, it is your ability to use insight and persuasion to motivate others to act in their own accord.

Empathy – Your ability to understand the needs, emotions and perspectives of those around you to better manage relationships. It is the ability to influence through your communication and listening skills.

Social-awareness – Your ability to accurately perceive the emotions of others and use that understanding to relate to others in social situations and the ability to lead, negotiate and work as good team players.

Why is it important to improve your Emotional Quotient?

People with high emotional intelligence make good leaders as they are able to understand what motivates others and relate to them in a positive manner with better decision-making capabilities, providing solutions to problems, resolving disputes and negotiating abilities due to the very nature of their ability to understand the needs and wants of others. Having greater EQ can help you in your interpersonal situations where it is important to understand others and plan your actions accordingly and to maintain mental and emotional well-being. It helps to alleviate anxiety, avoid mood swings, and stress. By better understanding and managing your emotions, you are able to identify your strengths and weaknesses and can strive to work on your weaknesses.

It’s easier to resolve conflicts when you empathise with others’ perspective. It is an awareness of your actions and feelings and how they affect those around you. It also means that you value others, listen to their needs and are able to empathise with them. Negative emotional state can sabotage your clear thought and focus. Developing emotional stability capacitates focusing at will and inhibits strong impulses and urges making you better equipped in terms of how to handle things rather than worrying about what can go wrong.

EQ enhances Productivity

Although your intelligence quotient is important to success in life, Emotional intelligence which is built on the foundation of self-awareness helps you to be more content and fosters your own productivity. Higher Emotional Quotient helps you to be internally motivated which can reduce procrastination, better self-control and improves your ability to focus on your goals. The ability to control emotions or impulses, allows you not to make impulsive and careless decisions and helps in resisting short-term gratification for long-term success.

Enhancing your emotional quotient results in getting to know the people you work with to build better relationships and in helping them to develop new strengths or refining their abilities. Being emotionally supportive and empathetic improves relationship strengths like influence, persuasion, teamwork,cooperation and motivates people to work at their best. Your emotional quotient built on the foundation of self-awareness, develops perseverance, resilience, and the drive to achieve goals.

How to enhance your Emotional Quotient?

Enhancing your emotional quotient is not to attain a permanent pleasurable emotional state, neither it means that you ignore, devalue, or pretend they don’t exist. It involves fully acknowledging your feelings and to act constructively in line with your goals. Although you cannot directly control or change your emotional state, you can achieve freedom from their impulsiveness and domination by enhancing your emotional quotient. Here are some strategies to enhance your Emotional Quotient.

Identify your emotional triggers

If your emotions are unpleasant or uncomfortable, you may want to avoid them by distracting yourself. But suppressing your emotions only makes things worse. The more you try to ignore them, the more uncontrollable they get. Instead get to know what triggers them. Some unresolved issues can trigger an emotionally reaction. By recognising your emotional triggers, you can respond to them in a conscious manner rather than reacting to them unconsciously. This way, you can resist impulses and urges, remain calm and can think clearly during an emotional turbulence. Learning what triggers your emotions and which emotions are driving your behaviour can help you achieve emotional stability.

Free yourself from unhappy emotions

Do you resent doing what you are doing? It may be your job, or you may have agreed to do something and are doing it, but part of you resents and resists it. Are you carrying unspoken resentment towards a person close to you or to a situation? If there is, observe it on both mental and emotional levels. Observe your emotion, which is the body’s reaction to those thoughts. Feel the emotion. Does it feel pleasant or unpleasant? Your unhappiness is not only polluting your emotions but also those around you. Attending to unhappy emotions by a way of communication and expressing fully what you feel, you can free yourself of unhappy emotions and improve your emotional quotient.

Practice self-observation

Make it a habit to monitor your mental-emotional state through self-observation. Do a self-evaluation. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Are you willing to accept your imperfections? Knowing your strengths and weaknesses, you can learn from your mistakes and constantly strive to build on your strengths. Observe how you react to people. Do you rush to conclusions before you know all the facts? Examine how you react to stressful situations. How do you react when someone or a situation doesn’t measure up to your expectations? Look honestly at your ability to stay calm and in control of difficult situations and how you think and interact with other people. Self-observation improves self-awareness which is the building block of your emotional quotient.

Emotional self-awareness is the building block of the next fundamental emotional intelligence: being able to shake off a bad mood” – Daniel Goleman

Accept your negative emotions

If you call some emotions negative, what you really saying that they shouldn’t be there, that it’s not okay to have those emotions. When you attribute the cause of your negativity to outside factors, you become the target. Instead accept whatever feelings come up, rather than judging them as bad or denying their presence. It’s okay to feel resentful; it’s okay to feel angry, irritated, moody; by accepting your negative emotions, you can avoid repression, inner conflict, or denial. When you accept your negative emotions, you are no longer forced to act them out blindly, and you are less likely to project them onto others. This way, you can shift your attention to what you can do to improve your situation rather than trying to instantly improve your feelings, which you can’t do.

Improve your focus

Focus helps you to recover more quickly from upsetting emotions. Two kinds of focus enhances your emotional stability. First, focus on inward awareness of your thoughts and your emotions and apply them to constructive activities like achieving your goals. Second, focus on others’ emotions, to empathise, perceive and understand their feelings, desires, and motives, and this can help you to have effective interactions and relationships. Through mindfulness, you can focus on your own emotions and focus on emotions of others to be aware of how their emotional state changes from moment to moment. Focusing on your emotions through present moment awareness can influence your emotional state.

Finally,

Practice self-management

You must be able to use your emotions for constructive decisions about your behaviour. Constantly building on your positive emotional state and learning from your negative emotions will make you an emotionally better person. At times, when you are obsessed by worries and anxieties, by staying emotionally present, you can have resolute attitude and better self-control. Develop an attitude of tolerance and ability to make choices that allow you to control impulsive behaviours. By managing your emotions in healthy way, you can act thoughtfully and develop the ability to think clearly.

Conclusion

What is your emotional quotient? Do you fave difficulty in regulating your emotions? Is it difficult for you to gather your emotional strength to work at your best? Do you have the difficulty in reading emotions of others or of your own? Consider achieving emotional freedom by accepting your emotions, and the emotions of others, as a natural part of life. Assess your emotional quotient to know your emotional strengths and weaknesses. Apply the above mentioned strategies in constructive ways to influence your emotional state and to enhance your Emotional Quotient.

To-do

• Work on understanding and expressing your own emotions.

• Manage, adapt and accept your emotions.

• Perceive and understand the emotions of others and use that to build better relationships with those around you to lead, influence, negotiate, or work as a part of team.

• Regulate your emotions by being competent and self-motivated to achieve your set goals.

• Direct your emotions to maximise your productivity, handle difficulties, and to seek solutions to problems.

• Develop tolerance for ambiguity and remain flexible in the face of obstacles.

• Don’t give into your instant gratification, persevere and focus on your goals for long-term success.

Deal with your criticism constructively

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” – Winston Churchill

Criticism and confrontational situations arise everyday. You may not be able to avoid other people’s criticism of you, but you always have a choice as how to respond to those. There are times when you feel that almost everyone is against you and our balance of temper depends upon others, just as others depend on us. Such situations cause uneasiness. This is natural because of our expectations and we feel hurt and start brooding about the criticism we face. Criticism if not handled properly can really create stressful and unpleasant working environment. Being criticised causes most of us to feel poorly about ourselves and can lower our self-esteem and productivity as we devote more time and energy dealing with it and are less focused on important things.

According to science, there are two portions of our brain that dictate how we emotionally process and respond to criticism. The amygdala plays a huge role in our fight or flight response, which is why negative reviews or feedback from others make us feel truly threatening and create a negative bias. Unpleasant remarks and experiences stick with us so much more than the pleasant ones.

When faced with criticism, not everyone deals with it in the same way. There isn’t one size fits all responses. Some instantly know its not personal, some get defensive, some may feel completely crushed by even the most minimal feedback. Here are some ways people deal with the negative feedback.

• Some people seem to accept criticism rather well on the surface while mentally they put themselves down by being overly hard on themselves.

• Some of them take negative feedback very personally. However, they deflect the blame back on others by challenging or arguing against as a means of convincing themselves that criticism is unjust.

• Some feel put down by the negative remarks, but they aren’t beating themselves up and aren’t deflecting blame onto the person giving them. They simply want to know the reason and what they could do to change critic’s mind.

• Some choose to defend themselves against criticism and exhibit a defensive reaction to negative feedback. However, they don’t argue and they likely think that their critic is somewhat misguided and are fine to leave it at that.

• Some get sensitive to negative feedback and tend to turn that into anger or feelings of inadequacy and react in way to quickly seek validation from others.

Feeling bad about being criticised is totally natural and unavoidable, but allowing it to effect our productivity and happiness can be often detrimental. We are not well equipped to handle negative feedback positively and fail often to deal with it smartly. However, criticism, if you learn to face it openly and learn to handle it in a more positive and constructive manner, can be a pathway to your progress and improvement. Managing negative feedback constructively creates better interpersonal relationships and can grow your leadership effectiveness. Here are certain ways to turn criticism into constructive tool for your individual success and not to let it affect you negatively.

Do not ‘defend’ yourself

When we are criticised, our most common instinct is to defend ourselves. Resist proving yourself right every time and focus on what is going on. Address it with curiosity and not as accusation. Even when you disagree, listen to what the other person has to say and think it over. Resist the urge to focus on the minor elements of what’s being said and instead focus on the major implication of the criticism. There may be things you can learn and benefit from if you consider the issue in larger perspective. Getting defensive takes away your emotional control and limits your ability to respond thoughtfully.

Know your ‘negative self’

Critical comments about yourself can activate a deeply held negative beliefs and your insecurities. You tend to overreact because it activates your negative belief as you are sensitive to that particular issue. Criticism may lead to anger, bitterness, stress, resentment, self-doubt, and pity. By becoming familiar about them can help you overcome these feelings that gets triggered.

Don’t take it personally

Many of us take criticism more personally than we should. It is essential to separate criticism from your sense of self. Learn not to view it as about who you are as a person , but rather as feedback about an individual action or a particular situation. Always learn to look at the context from an objective stand. The disagreements you have with others is often due to different views and perceptions. If you can learn to view it as feedback about something you did and not about who you are, you will be able to take it less personally and can respond accordingly.

Go to the ‘source’

Identify the source that triggered the criticism or try to have a conversation with the person criticising. If the person delivering the criticism is prone to criticising others unreasonably, or being egotistical, or has unpredictable behavioural-pattern, then you need not take their feedback seriously. However, if the person delivering criticism is stable, supportive and trustworthy, take stock of the criticism and explore it further. Try to have a conversation and get to the bottom of it. Getting to the source keeps you in proper perspective.

Respond calmly

It can be very unpleasant when someone finds fault with you. But If you react emotionally to what’s been said, or if you go into fight mode, it only takes you out of your rational behaviour and it is better not to respond. Take a step back emotionally so that you can respond calmly and use simple response to acknowledge that you have heard their opinion. Take few minutes out and breathe in a relaxed way to bring down your stress response so that you can respond calmly.

Look for the ‘positive’

Always look at what you can learn from the situation. If there’s anything the situation is helping you to learn or is it in anyway serving as an opportunity for your growth. Sometimes it might help you to learn the need to be more resilient or patient or to learn to stand up for yourself or to take responsibility for the behaviours you have that invited criticism from others. Be focused on the positive aspects of the situation.

Strengthen your positive ‘self’

Agree with any valid part of the criticism that is true. If there are elements that are not true, state your differences. If you are brought down by someone else’s unjust criticism, consider working on your self-esteem, try to reduce your interaction with someone who regularly criticises you. If it is someone whom you can’t avoid, try being more matter of fact with them, or, ideally, withdraw your need for their approval or validation.

Say ‘No’ to negative self-talk

Negative self-talk can be damaging to your self-esteem and can become a biggest bully. Don’t let your inner critic demean you and lower your self-worth. Ask yourself the question: would you put up with a person saying negative things about you? If you wouldn’t tolerate that tone from someone, then why put up with from yourself? Get positive perspective of you as a person or your achievements and focus on them when your inner critic tries to break you down.

Don’t over-communicate

If you get into disagreements or confrontational situations, don’t engage in too much talk or debate. Try to exit from the situation with ease. Know when to quit the conversation. Adopt strategies that regulate your emotions before negativity takes you over. Develop an ability to put away the unpleasant experience and get on with new approach, in other words, have the ability to bounce back and explain your stance or take on that particular issue later.

Straighten your own attitudes

When you feel or think that you are off the target with someone or you think that he or she disapproves of you, there may be nothing wrong with you. It could be the other person is simply drawing upon his or her own past experiences or even highly suspicious of others in his or her dealings with others. Understand person’s motivation for being unfairly critical. Is he stressed? Insecure? Unhappy to change?In such cases, attitude to your own self is important. If you feel someone’s criticism of you is unfair, don’t be afraid to say so. Be irrespective of others’ unjust criticism. Even though you’re the target, it is more often about them than you. Try to view it in broader perspective.

Ask open-ended questions

Asking open-ended questions to those who criticise you will not only make their feedback valuable, but also allows you to learn more about why they viewed the action or the situation the way they did. Asking open-ended questions like “Tell me more…,” “what is the impact of that?” Asking a series of ‘why?’ questions is the best way to know their perspective and makes you better equipped to handle the situation in future. You can facilitate a more open conversation with your critic and can end the conversation on good terms.

Finally, pay attention to the criticism you face. Take action in order to improve yourself if the criticism is because of your faults and weaknesses. View it as learning opportunity. Instead of feeling bad about your mistakes and any criticism that may have resulted from them, accept them and view them objectively. This way, you will be better prepared to deal with similar situations in the future.

Conclusion

The next time you come across criticism, remember what you learned and take a suitable approach, don’t let anger get in the way. Respond in cool, calm and reasonable manner. Trust your instinct, if its something worth fighting for. Be assertive and firm, but don’t be demanding or aggressive. If the criticism has resulted because of your mistakes, learn from them and move on.