If your goal is to be more emotionally intelligent, say hello to these 10 new habits

Do you know what quality plays the biggest role in one’s success? It’s not IQ, nor is it sheer determination or luck. 

It’s emotional intelligence, also known as EQ (Emotional Quotient). 

In fact, it’s a skill highly prized not just in the workplace, but in relationships, too. 

Emotionally intelligent people have an edge over the rest because this quality makes them more empowered and productive in life. And most importantly – more empathetic!

So, I’d suggest making emotional intelligence a priority among your goals. After all, it’s a skill that anyone can have, given the right habits. 

If that sounds like something you’d like to aim for, here are 10 habits you can start with: 

1) Practice mindfulness and self-reflection

First up, let’s begin with a core component of emotional intelligence – self-awareness. 

Any attempt at improving yourself starts with knowing yourself. After all, how can you change something if you have no clue what to change, right? 

The good thing is, this isn’t complicated. Being mindful simply means you tune into what’s happening in the present moment, instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. 

Pay attention to your thoughts, emotions, and body sensations without judgment. This is part of developing intuition as well. 

Meanwhile, self-reflection is necessary for examining your inner world. I’ve found that keeping a diary or journal is very helpful for this. 

Ask yourself the tough questions: What are your values? What brings you joy? What are you afraid of? Let it all out on the page, free of judgment. 

The more you know yourself, the better you can make decisions that feel right for you. 

2) Identify what you’re feeling 

This goes hand in hand with what I’ve discussed above. Self-reflection helps us to sift through what we’re really feeling.

For instance, there was a time when I was feeling constantly irritable and out of sorts whenever I was with my partner. At first, I chalked it up to just having off days or being stressed about work. 

But when I took a step back and really honed in on my emotions, I realized that the root of it was this – I was feeling neglected in my relationship

It’s a bit like detective work, really. But the process is fascinating. And the results are fantastic – you become more in tune with your emotions, and thus figure out what it is you really need. 

Simplifies things a lot, doesn’t it? What’s more, as you become more and more attuned to your emotions and behavior, you begin to…

3) Understand what motivates you

And wow, this is powerful. I mean, once you know what makes you tick, life becomes exponentially more meaningful. 

It becomes easier to tackle tasks when you don’t want to do them. Or figure out ways to overcome your dislike of something. 

It’s quite empowering, because it puts you firmly in the driver’s seat.  The answers can really guide you to make decisions that feel right. 

Case in point: when I was in a corporate job I hated, I couldn’t understand it. It was so cushy and well-paying that I felt guilty for not liking it better. 

I felt a lot like Andy did at first in “The Devil Wears Prada” – it was a job that a “million people would kill for”, yet it felt meaningless to me. 

It turns out that I’m driven by the idea of helping others, not just purely making money. 

So once I figured that out, I switched gears and pivoted to a teaching career. And that – despite the much smaller paycheck – made me feel so fulfilled. 

The point is, understanding what drives you is a crucial part of building your emotional intelligence. 

You learn why you react the way you do in different situations, and then manage your emotions – and your life! – better. 

4) Understand what triggers you

independent and free thinker If your goal is to be more emotionally intelligent, say hello to these 10 new habits

Speaking of managing emotions, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of knowing your triggers. 

I’m sure you’ve been in situations where a single word set you off. Or maybe it was a specific tone of voice, or even just the way someone looked at you. One minute you’re fine, and then you’re not. 

Does that sound familiar? 

We’ve all got triggers, but the ones who know what theirs are have an advantage – they can prepare ahead. They can think up strategies for those moments when they feel triggered and manage their reactions. 

And that is what we call emotion regulation. It’s the difference between someone who sits in traffic raging and cursing, and someone who takes a deep breath and turns on some relaxing music to pass the time. 

This brings me to my next point…

5) Pause before responding

If you’re the type who blurts out responses without thinking, then it’s time to be more conscious of that. 

I totally get it, I think every one of us has had those occasional foot-in-mouth incidents. Or given in to the first thought that popped into our head, even if it’s rude or dismissive. 

If you want to develop emotional intelligence, though, it pays to be more careful with the words you say. (Besides, not everything deserves a reaction anyway…)

As I mentioned earlier, emotional intelligence is all about understanding and managing your emotions, and part of that is knowing when to speak and when to pause. And knowing the impact of your words and actions on others.

Take a moment to breathe before you respond. It gives you a chance to think about how your words might affect the other person. 

On that note…

6) Listen better

I honestly think that “active listening” should be a skill people should put on their resumes. You know why? 

Because it’s so rare! 

Don’t get me wrong – most people do listen. But they listen to reply. They compose their next sentences while the other person’s talking. 

In short, they’re still focused on themselves. That’s an important distinction. 

Meanwhile, active listeners listen to understand. Their focus is on the speaker – they truly want to know the speaker’s thoughts and perspectives. 

Active listening includes paying attention to nonverbal cues like body language, too. 

As a result, active listeners end up connecting with others better. 

7) Communicate clearly

Mind games. Passive-aggressive moves. A rude or impatient tone. 

All of those modes of communication scream “low emotional intelligence”. 

Clear, respectful communication is the way to go. As the old saying goes, “Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.” That sums it up perfectly!

This habit helps us become more emotionally intelligent because it trains us to be assertive while being respectful. 

Believe me, if you’re an effective communicator, people will love collaborating and hanging out with you. 

8) Do something nice for someone

signs youre more influential than you think 1 If your goal is to be more emotionally intelligent, say hello to these 10 new habits

Now we get to another important component of emotional intelligence – empathy. 

For some people, empathy comes naturally. For others, it doesn’t and thus needs to be developed. 

I suggest reaching out and doing something nice for someone. Bring your coworker a cup of java. Give someone a genuine compliment. Teach your grandma how to use emojis…

It’s a simple yet effective way to: 

  • Train us to be more observant and responsive to the feelings of others
  • Help us get out of our heads and engage with/understand the world more
  • Think about the good we can do in the world, even during the times we feel worthless
  • Realize how much we already have and how much we can share 

That last bit is so important. I’ll explain why…

9) Practice gratitude

Look, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, isn’t it? And social media has made it even worse. Comparing ourselves with others and seeing how short we measure up has made it harder for us to see our blessings. 

But that’s not the emotionally intelligent way to go about it. What is? 

Gratitude. Flipping the script and seeing how much we already have helps us be more emotionally intelligent. 

According to Forbes Magazine:

“Cultivating a grateful mindset allows you to readily shift from the brain’s negativity bias that has been developed over time to examining what’s going well in your life, what values reinforce your decisions, and which strengths allow you to be at your best as consistently as possible. Because gratitude activates feel-good rather than stress hormones, it helps you remain emotionally stable.” 

10) Eat well, sleep well, and move! 

Finally, get the basics right – do everything you need to be in tiptop health

Real talk: all these tips won’t matter if you’re perpetually tired from lack of sleep, nutrition and exercise. You won’t be in the best position to manage your emotions. 

I mean, I’ve got a fairly good handle on my emotions most of the time, but when I’m hangry or didn’t get enough sleep…well, I’d call myself emotionally dumb. 

I lash out, space out, do things I regret later…

So, if you’re skipping meals, skimping on sleep, or avoiding exercise, it’s time to rethink those habits. Start small if you have to, as long as you’re consistent with it.  

Final thoughts

As you can see, emotional intelligence has five main aspects: self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, empathy, and motivation. 

The habits we’ve discussed above aim to help you be stronger in each area. 

And just like with any skill, improving your emotional intelligence doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself, keep reflecting, and keep trying. It all counts towards being a better person! 

Picture of Roselle Umlas

Roselle Umlas

I am a freelance writer with a lifelong interest in helping people become more reflective and self-aware so that they can communicate better and enjoy meaningful relationships.

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