Smiling black businessman with laptop at cafeAre you emotionally intelligent? In today’s world, EQ is just as important as— or even more important than — IQ. The ability to connect with other people authentically, effectively and positively is a valued skill.

What is emotional intelligence? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as ‘the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.’ It’s a valued skill at all levels of an organization — especially in leadership.

Here are some important ways anyone can develop more emotional intelligence:

  • Take an honest look at your interactions with others. Do you listen without judgment? Do you give people the benefit of the doubt? Do you allow issues that come up to be resolved or do you hold a grudge? Do you accept constructive criticism? Do you listen? Do you treat others like you would want to be treated? Finally, do you allow others to shine while acknowledging your own accomplishments? Emotionally intelligent people listen, seek to understand other people and work hard to have quality interactions with other people that lead to strong connections.
  • Evaluate your ability to stay calm in stressful situations. One major component of emotional intelligence is self-awareness and self-control. When things go wrong, do you blame others, get angry or accuse? Or, do you take a deep breath, look at your options and proceed with a plan using the resources around you? How do you relate to other people when they make mistakes? How do you handle conflict or crisis situations?
  • Practice putting yourself in your employees’ shoes. Exercising empathy in the workplace can go a long way in terms of emotional understanding. Emotionally intelligent people are able to see things from other people’s points of view. Pause during conflict or an uncomfortable situation and simply think, “How might this situation look from my colleague’s or employee’s perspective?” Then, proceed with renewed perspective.
  • Finally, take care of yourself. Exercising emotional intelligence means taking breaks when you need to, taking a few deep breaths when stress sets in and stepping away for a few moments to collect your thoughts and emotions before approaching a potentially heated situation. Self-regulation and self-care is a hallmark of EQ.