How to Improve Your EQ

by Stacy Blackman Consulting, Jul 18, 2022

You might have all the technical skills in the world under your belt—and be brilliant as heck—but still have trouble advancing to a leadership role in your company. Why? The answer could be your EQ.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to understand and manage your emotions and those of others around you. And it has never been more critical for leaders than it is today, two years into the pandemic. The good news is, you can improve your EQ to meet the fresh challenges of 2022.

Management professor Brenda Ellington Booth shares her tips for boosting emotional awareness with Jessica Love of Kellogg's The Insightful Leader podcast. But first, let's define the four components that make up EQ.

Self-Awareness

Self-awareness describes your ability to understand your strengths and weaknesses. It also means you can recognize how your emotions affect both you and your team's performance. "Self-awareness is literally about how you're feeling in the moment. It's that self-check-in," Booth explains. "Sometimes, if you notice your feeling, you might have a choice to make."

Self-Management

Self-management refers to controlling your emotional responses, especially during stressful situations. If you have a hard time keeping your feelings in check, that's a sign you need to work on your self-management skills. As you become more in sync with your emotions, you'll have an easier time shifting from reacting to responding to difficult circumstances.

"Given how you feel, what do you need to do? What choices do you need to make?" Booth asks. "If you're having an off day, it's so important just to check in how you feel because people are going to pick up on something."

Social Awareness

"Social awareness is not being self-focused, but other-focused," Booth explains. We often hear it expressed in the admonishment to "read the room." As we noted in a recent post on valuing emotions at work, learning to recognize their employees' feelings has practical implications for leaders. Managers can better develop trust with their staff simply by paying attention to their moods.

Relationship Management

Relationship management refers to your capacity to mentor and influence others and settle conflicts when they arise. "If social awareness is reading others and adjusting yourself accordingly, relationship management takes it one step further," says Love. "It's using this knowledge to build and strengthen your relationship with others."

Tips to Improve Your EQ

Throughout this podcast episode, Booth and Love share stories of executives working to improve their emotional intelligence. Check out these essential takeaways we can all adopt to boost our EQ.

  • Don't assume that your audience feels or experiences something exactly the same way you do.
  • Find out what your triggers are. Is there a particular colleague that sets you off? Do certain situations bring out the worse in you? By becoming aware of your triggers, you can make choices that will manage them and your emotions.
  • Recognize when you're having an off day and allow yourself to take a break. We often feel pressure to make decisions, says Booth, but usually, it's better to sleep on it before responding when the stakes are high. "If you are feeling angry or frustrated, please don't hit the send button," she advises. "Because you might have to clean up something that you didn't intend."
  • Last but not least, make the people around you feel appreciated. When you're feeling upbeat, spread your joy, says Booth. "If you are in a good mood, you might make someone's day as well."

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This tip sheet on how to improve your EQ appeared initially in the Blacklight, Stacy Blackman's weekly newsletter for professionals. At the Blacklight, we aim to illuminate with every dispatch that lands in your inbox. If you’re thirsty for guidance to help you slay it at work or as a student and move your goalposts closer, sign up today!