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How To Develop Emotional Intelligence?

Prerna is a thinker, observer, reader & writer. She is always curious to learn. She is a strong believer in human potential.


One of the finest qualities anyone can have is emotional intelligence. It is quite an important trait required, to gain victory over one's personal and professional life. Being emotionally intelligent means you have the ability to recognize, comprehend, and manage your own emotions. You can also recognize and influence the emotions of others. The great news is emotional intelligence can be acquired and improved with practice.

7 ways to raise your emotional intelligence

1. Self-awareness

Self-awareness is about knowing yourself. You should have self-knowledge about what is happening in your life, how you are handling it, and how do you see your career, life, or relationship to be. When you know what you want it becomes easier for you to work on how to get it. If you don’t know then you are more like a headless chicken.

So, how you can develop self-awareness?

Start developing and increasing your sensitivity towards your emotions and gut feelings. They are the most trusted friends you will ever have. Set aside some time for self-reflection that means to reflect on your thoughts, behavior, feelings, goals, frustrations, etc. This will be your self-reflection time, so relax a bit and think about the day or week behind you. The purpose behind it is to get you used to think about how you feel and why.

There is one more thing you can opt for is journaling. There are many things which you can’t discuss with others so why not write it down about it and get it off your chest. The purpose behind journaling is self-reflection by thinking and writing down you can get to the root of the problem.

2. Understand your emotions and what triggers them

To understand your emotions first you have to feel them. Unfortunately, many of us are afraid of our own feelings especially the negative ones. The moment you feel emotions are taking over, you distract yourself and interrupt the thoughts chain. For example, if we feel that sadness, anger, bitterness, etc are taking over, we usually get ourselves busy with something else to distract from these unpleasant emotions.

If you find yourself doing the same thing remember this is not the solution. You may postpone it for time being but it will be going to come again. This way you are burying your emotions rather than experiencing or dealing with them.

So, what are you supposed to do?

Do not be afraid of your emotions. Whatever it is feel it till you identify the trigger. Instead of ignoring understand your emotions what are they trying to tell you. Once you will understand the reason behind it you can work on it for a permanent solution.

Remember, if you want to be good at understanding others first understand yourself. Even if the emotions you really don’t want to feel it should be addressed, processed, and let go.

“Whatever is begun in anger, ends in shame.”

— Benjamin Franklin

3. Listen without judging

Good listeners are really rare because you should have a lot of empathy, willingness to give up your time for others, and mental energy to be present. To have empathy means listening without judging.

Emotionally intelligent people show interest in the conversation. They encourage others to speak more (even if they don’t agree), creates an environment where it’s safe to open up and you can say what you mean.

So, next time when you get a chance to be a listener to someone who needs advice, opinion, or simply a shoulder to cry on, try to be patient, stay focused and listen without judging.


4. Mind-body Connection

According to the mind-body connection doctrine, discomfort in any part of your body is a sign that something is not right. For example, Upper back pain is usually linked to being overwhelmed with life, lower back pain to financial problems, a knot in the stomach is linked with fear or nervousness, etc. Learn to notice these signals and interpret them. It can help you in understanding why you feel a certain way.

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Often it happens when your body tells you that you are nervous, angry, anxious, or hurt, you simply ignore these signs, hoping they would eventually go away.

Sometimes when you’re overwhelmed with emotions, it may be okay to calm yourself down (even in unhealthy ways), until you can think clearly. But this will offer you temporary relief and not the solution to your problem. Therefore, it’s important to get to the bottom of your emotions, work out their triggers, and release these emotions in the least harmful way.

5. Engage

Whenever you engage with others try to listen to them, understand them, tune in with them. Do all these things genuinely and not to impress others. Remember, empathy is the main trait of emotionally intelligent people. And you can’t fake it for long.

So, the best way is to develop empathy through practicing it. Start taking interest in others, how they cope, what’s troubling them, how they live, etc. To engage with others, improve your listening skills, and have a deep conversation with them.


6. Develop self-management

Self-management is about controlling your emotions. Do not misunderstand it by suppressing or ignoring your emotions, instead learn to deal with them. Once you understood and processed your emotions then only release them.

Self-management is also about being true to yourself. Some of the ways you can improve your self-management:

  • Practice what you preach
  • Be prepared to speak up, even if you risk being made fun
  • Don’t make promises which you can’t keep
  • Always be polite and respectful with others
  • Be self-disciplined

“The strength of character and emotional intelligence to face your failures and learn from them are at the core of success.”

— Robert Kiyosaki

7. Learn to deal with criticism

Firstly remember not all criticism is equally important nor you should react to it in the same way. A friend’s remark about your new dress could be a sign he’s making fun of you but it should also be a subtle suggestion that the dress doesn’t suit you.

Besides, if you are constantly receiving average feedback on your performance, or behavior, instead of throwing a tantrum, try to look at yourself through other people’s eyes.

What if you are really short-tempered, lazy, or unreliable?

Admitting our mistake is not easy but living in denial is even worse. So, rather than feeling upset about the feedback try to learn from it. Especially when constantly you are getting the same feedback. But regardless of how you feel about the feedback, keep in mind that negative feedback if taken without hatred can work for your personal development than any false praise.

Besides, there is something noble about admitting you were wrong. I know it’s not a pleasant thing to do but it shows that you are mature enough to take both the credit for success and blame for your mistakes. Also, this may encourage others to do the same.

“It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head – it is the unique intersection of both.”

— David Caruso

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Reference: Emotional Intelligence: Why it is crucial for success in life and business by James W. Williams.

© 2021 Prerna Dhulekar

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