4 Tips for Increasing Your Emotional Intelligence
A friend recently told me about ongoing struggles he’d been having at work. He works in a cubicle at a large corporation. Difficult work, unclear expectations, and mounting pressure from his demanding boss had left him with a sense of impending doom. No matter how many hours he worked, he simply couldn’t catch up. And, worse, work had begun affecting his family. Not only was he struggling with the stress, but he had also begun perceiving himself in a negative light.
My friend needed tools to help him better manage stress and to help him maintain a positive and accurate perception of himself.
Earlier this month, we surveyed our social media friends and followers and asked them about emotional intelligence. We asked, “Which of the five areas of emotional intelligence is your greatest strength?” Of the following, which do you think the fewest people chose?
Only 20 percent of our respondents chose self-perception or stress management as strengths. If my friend had taken our little survey, he would have reinforced the results.
So many of us struggle with self-perception and stress management. What can we do? Here are four tips for growing our Emotional Intelligence in the areas of self-perception and stress management.
1. Remember that you are more than what you do.
You’re a human being; you’re not a human doing. Much of our shared struggle with self-perception boils down to the fact that we’ve simply conflated the two. We derive our greatest value from what we do and we can lose who we are. An emotionally intelligent person can say, “I know who I am.” Then, that person can say, “I know what I’m good at.” A well-calibrated sense of self frees you to focus on what you’re good at and to be at peace with the fact that you’re not good at other things.
2. Flip the script you’re reciting to yourself.
Nobody talks to you more than you. And, there’s likely nobody on the planet who is more critical and demanding of you than you. Instead of playing a loop of your perceived limitations, past failures, shortcomings, and struggles, try reminding yourself of your strengths, your positive attributes, your successes, and the goals you’ve reached. The act of consciously redirecting your thoughts into a more positive and productive direction can make a huge difference not only in what you’re thinking but in how you’re living.
3. Find a healthy outlet.
Stress is like the molten lava boiling miles below the surface of a giant, dormant volcano. If the pressure rises and if there’s nowhere for the steam to escape, there will be an eruption. It’s just a matter of time. As a human being, you can only tolerate a finite amount of stress. Find constructive ways to let off steam. Schedule a regular tee time, eat out with friends, enjoy a funny movie, or exercise at the gym. You’ll discover that you’re much better at dealing with inevitable stressors when you have a way to vent.
4. Pause to gain perspective.
Life is an incredible teacher. Even in times of immense stress, there are important lessons to be learned. The problem for many of us is that we’re simply so preoccupied with the stress that we never get to the lesson. In the midst of a trying time, when the pressure mounts, give yourself a moment. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Imagine yourself outside of the stressful situation rather than in the middle of it. The act of pausing to breathe and think, even if it is just a few moments, can provide a more realistic perspective and can help you remain cool and calm.
Do you struggle, too?
If you struggle with self-perception and stress management, cheer up. You’re in good company. Most of us, if we’re being honest, struggle in these areas, too. The great news about Emotional Intelligence is that all of us can grow. If you sense that you could use more information or if you’d like to schedule a free consultation, get in touch!