In the year 2022, there is more and more attention being paid to our ability and capacity for emotional intelligence. This is in part due to the ever-growing role that technology plays in our day-to-day life. Even 5 years ago, office buildings were overpopulated with workers sharing cubicles and spending time physically in an office. However, the past few years shook things up in some very major ways. The global COVID-19 pandemic is surely a culprit that drove a lot of these changes, but some of these societal transitions were only made possible through technology that already existed and was already a part of everyday life. Take the remote work world, for example. This used to be a world that was reserved for veteran employees, high-achievers, CEOs, and other executive members of leadership. Today, though, remote work is quickly becoming the most popular choice for employees and employers alike. This is all only made possible, though, through technology like video-conferencing, robust messaging and communication platforms, and other technology and software that enables professionals to get their work done from wherever there’s a wifi signal.
While the remote work world has proven itself as extremely viable, practical, and beneficial to both employees and employers, it does come with its own fair share of flaws. Most notably is the isolation that working from home can cause. In turn, this has brought the importance and value of emotional intelligence into the eye of the mainstream. While emotional intelligence has long been established as valuable in any community, its role in society today continues to grow and evolve.
“Emotional intelligence (EI) forms the juncture at which cognition and emotion meet, it facilitates our capacity for resilience, motivation, empathy, reasoning, stress management, communication, and our ability to read and navigate a plethora of social situations and conflicts. EI matters and if cultivated affords one the opportunity to realize a more fulfilled and happy life.”
– Elaine Houston, Researcher and Writer, Positive Psychology –
Work on Being Open, Honest, and Transparent
If you want to improve your ability and capacity for emotional intelligence, you can start by working on your own communication habits. Communication is at the root of every group that’s ever formed in history. In fact, it’s arguable that societies cannot exist without the presence of some form of communication or another. Obviously, societal communication has evolved more than 10-fold since its origins and is now an integral aspect of our ability to interact with one another today. Because of this, being able to practice honesty and transparency in your communications will allow you to more freely connect with others, which is at the root of emotional intelligence.
“I just pulled down some of my walls and started being a bit more true to myself. I think people really took notice because doors just started to open for me. The only thing I really changed was how honest with myself I was. I wasn’t trying to act like anyone else anymore.”
– Dr. Michael Green, Chief Medical Officer, Winona –
The power of honesty and transparency in communication is actually far-reaching and widespread, too. This is because presenting yourself as open, transparent, and vulnerable encourages others to act in kind. Therefore, enhancing your emotional intelligence can help others around you enhance and grow their own emotional intelligence as well.
“I tell people on their first day all the time that they should never feel like they have to lie to me because I’ll never lie to them. I don’t think it should be so scary to be honest. If you need help, ask for it. If you don’t wanna do something, say so. Honesty makes everything a lot simpler.”
– Tyler Read, Founder and Senior Editor, Personal Trainer Pioneer –
The Importance of Active Listening
Emotional intelligence is directly related to one’s ability for active listening. Active listening is something that can take a little practice, especially because it’s different than just hearing someone. Active listening is an engaged state of mind in which you’re actively participating in the conversation, even when you aren’t speaking.
“When someone gives you their full and undivided attention it’s night-and-day. I mean, we’re all distracted, we all have a busy life behind the scenes. People who push all the noise away and just give you their focus entirely while you’re with them. Those are special people.”
– Max Schwartzapfel, CMO, Fighting For You –
Some of the tactics involved with active listening are extremely easy to implement, too. For instance, the simple act of nodding along while someone is sharing their story can indicate to the speaker that you’re paying attention and following along with what they have to say. You can also repeat certain phrases, or take a chance to chime in with a comment here or there. Just be careful not to interrupt or cut them off.
“There isn’t really anything more irritating to me than when I’m in the middle of explaining something and someone just abruptly cuts me off. Especially because it feels like they weren’t even paying attention in the first place. It’s really poor etiquette.”
– Sasha Ramani, Associate Director of Corporate Strategy, MPOWER Financing –
Being Open-Minded and Non-Judgemental
In order to improve your emotional intelligence, you need to be able to approach situations and conversations with an open mind. The simple truth of the matter is that while we’re all human, none of our stories are even close to identical. Being able to come into a conversation without expectations or judgment will help you significantly elevate your emotional intelligence.
“Judgemental people have no place in our organization, to be honest. We pride ourselves on being inclusive, loving, and empathetic so if you’re going to show up on day 1 with an attitude, that will also be your last day.”
– Patricio Paucar, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer, Navi –
It isn’t always easy to remove judgment from our minds. Situational judgment is actually a part of our natural survival instinct. However, in improving our emotional intelligence, we have to be able to remove any pre-existing judgments we’ve developed internally as these hinder our ability for empathy.
“I try to forget everything I’ve ever known, in a sense, when I’m meeting someone new for the first time. I just like to start a relationship off without any sort of previous context or judgment. Show me who you are, I’ll show you who I am.”
– Lina Miranda, VP Marketing, AdQuick –
Tap Into Your Own Feelings First
A huge piece of the emotional intelligence puzzle is understanding and learning about your own feelings in order to better connect and commune with others. Being able to identify how certain situations and stimulants impact your own personal emotional and mental landscape can help you empathize and understand how similar contexts may impact another.
“When I took up meditation, I started to notice how much deeper and more fulfilling the relationships in my life became. I don’t think it really had to do with the act of meditation, but rather how meditation led me to a better understanding of my own emotions.”
– Chris Vaughn, CEO, Emjay –
We’re all humans, and as such, we all have the innate ability to feel and experience the same spectrum of emotions. It’s just about allowing ourselves to do so.
“I never used to get emotional during films or movies. It’s all fake, y’know? But then when I matured a little bit and started coming more into my own, I don’t know, something changed. Now I even cry at Hallmark movies.”
– Brett Estep, COO, Insured Nomads –
Understanding It’s Not Always About You
While having a grasp and understanding of your own emotional landscape is crucial in developing and improving your ability for emotional intelligence, it’s even more vital to understand and accept that others’ thoughts, feelings, and emotional experiences are almost never about you.
“We have a tendency to want to relate everything back to the self, but that’s not always very practical. This is especially the case with empathy, because so often, in order to share in someone’s experience, we have to take ourselves completely out of our own mind and body and immerse ourselves in theirs. It isn’t easy, but that’s why so few people reach true enlightenment. We’re very attached to ourselves.”
– Anthony Puopolo, CMO, REX MD –
When we can remove the sense of self from the equation, we are able to truly embrace our full capacity for emotional intelligence, understanding, and empathy.
“I’m not sure there’s anything more toxic to a society or community than the individual ego. Unfortunately, we all have one, so it’s something we just have to learn to work around. Emotional intelligence can at least help us in that way.”
– Ryan Azimi, Director of International Development, ETIAS –
Final Thoughts on Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence has and always will have an extremely important role in building communities and societies. In 2022 especially, you will only benefit personally and professionally by dedicating time and energy to improving your capacity for emotional intelligence.
“Emotional intelligence is the global awareness of emotions in yourself and in others. An emotionally intelligent person is able to identify the emotional state they are currently experiencing. They are also sensitive to emotional changes.”
– Patrick M Whitehead, Associate Professor of Psychology, Albany State University –
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