Strengthening your emotional intelligence or EI is an important goal to have. Is the most sought-after skill by employers today, and with good reason. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that those with strong emotional intelligence are successful leaders, thoughtful collaborators, and effective relationship builders. Likewise, they are more productive and creative – all of these have an incredible impact on an organization’s bottom line.
Emotional Intelligence is comprised of four domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Within these areas, there are a total of twelve competencies that are learnable and enable positive performance for leaders and collaborators.
The key here is to note that emotional intelligence is not something you have or you don’t – rather it is something that you can learn. When it comes to personal and professional development, there are few other areas as critical as EI, and strengthening it should be part of your lifelong learning plan.
You will notice that there are areas you have strengths in, and areas you will want to grow in. You might also notice that while men and women are equally emotionally intelligent, individuals generally excel in particular competencies based on gender. Of course, there are exceptions to this. Nonetheless, research demonstrates that women are more empathetic, committed to social responsibility, and are better communicators and relationship builders. Men excel in self-confidence, assertiveness, and managing stress.
Interestingly, research also demonstrates that women tend to be stronger leaders because of their interpersonal skills and empathy has become recognized as one of the most important — and underrated — EI skills within leadership.
Reviewing the chart below, where are your strengths? Areas for growth? And how do you know?
3 Steps to Strengthen Your Emotional Intelligence
Strengthening your Emotional Intelligence skills is a process and requires commitment. Here are three steps you can take to further develop your emotional intelligence:
- Self-Reflection: Take time to reflect on your daily experiences. When are you happy and why? What evokes empathy and compassion and why? When are you sad or angry and why? There are many apps available that allow you to chart your daily experiences so you can track your emotions and find patterns to learn your triggers. Some you might consider include Daylio, Moodnotes, and Reflectly.
- Ask for Feedback: You’ve likely had an annual evaluation at work, which can be a helpful way to assess your strengths and areas for growth. Nevertheless, getting feedback from multiple persons who you share different relationships with is a great way to become more self-aware and recognize the ways others perceive you in different settings. This said, if you are asking for feedback, be prepared to accept it and learn from it; ask questions so you can have a better understanding of what someone is sharing with you and how you can address areas you want to grow in.
- Assessment: Taking an emotional intelligence assessment is a good way to develop knowledge of your strengths and areas for growth. There are many assessments out there with different approaches. Some are costly and offer an in-depth exploration and coaching. There are also free assessments you can start with if that feels more accessible to you. Some you might consider include the Psychology Today EI Test and the EI Facial Expression Quiz.
Choosing to strengthen your emotional intelligence — to learn and grow in your EI abilities — offers many benefits including career advancement, higher job satisfaction, and salary increase. Regardless of where you are on your EI journey, cultivating strengths across the twelve competencies will enable you to excel in your personal and professional life, and as a leader and a collaborator. Each of these skills should be a priority in both your personal and professional development.