Today, emotional intelligence is widely understood to be a highly desirable quality. Research shows that only about one third of a person’s success can be attributed to their intellectual capacity and functional skills. A remarkable two thirds of a person’s success derives from their emotional intelligence. According to Dr. Travis Bradberry, coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, over 90% of all top performers have a high EQ.

We know emotional intelligence is important, and there are several excellent sources that describe what it is, from Daniel Goleman’s ground-breaking 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, to articles, stories, and blogs — see Arden Coaching’s blog: “What is Emotional Intelligence?” for an excellent overview.

So, exactly how do you strengthen your emotional intelligence? What hands-on steps can you take to focus on, and improve, your own EQ?

First, you need to answer the question: what are the differences between how others see me and how I see myself?

You may think you are a great communicator and a fantastic listener, completely in tune with your team. Are you? It’s much easier to objectively self-assess your functional abilities than your emotional intelligence. Getting honest feedback from others will shine a spotlight on areas where there may be a disconnect between your perception and reality, and elements of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management that need the most work. 

Of course, obtaining honest feedback and then assessing its meaning is easier said than done. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Daniel Goleman recommends two ways to best accomplish this: employing a 360-degree feedback assessment tool, and; working with a coach.

Second, define your focus. What do you want to work on actively?

Strengthening your emotional intelligence is not like developing a skill, such as learning how to use a new project management tool. Your heart has to be in it. Self-motivation is an essential aspect of successfully building emotional intelligence. As you consider areas that need work, identify those changes that most closely align with your personal and professional goals and your aspirations. Begin there.

Third, be specific. What detailed steps will you take to make change happen? 

The only way to successfully change a behavior is to identify the specific actions you will take to make the change happen. The more precise the better. For example, if you wish to improve your emotional intelligence in the area of relationship management and become more proficient at influencing people, specific action-steps, such as developing your skills as a storyteller, or learning how to communicate an idea’s “big picture,” so others will see where they fit in and how they benefit, are specific, practical actions you can take to move forward.

Finally, keep practicing!

Ultimately, improving your emotional intelligence means that you want to make a new behavior, or pattern of thinking, your “default.” For example, if you are working on how you deal with conflict, you want the new, emotionally intelligent response to be automatic. You must practice — typically for months, not weeks — until your new pattern of thinking and responding becomes habit.

Arden Coaching’s blog, “7 Steps to Boost Your Professional Success Through Emotional Intelligence.” Provides more detail on taking steps to enhance your emotional intelligence.

To learn more about emotional intelligence, executive coaching, and 360 Leadership Assessments, contact us at admin@ardencoaching.com or 646.844.2233.