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Module 1: Developing your Emotional Intelligence

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Emotional intelligence can be practised. Emotional intelligence can be developed through learning.
 
Here are seven steps to improve your emotional intelligence. (However, it's important to stress that whilst these look very, very simple, they're extremely hard to put into practice. They take a lot of commitment and a lot of dedication.)
 
"I am responsible for my own feelings."
 
"I am responsible for my own behaviour."
"I always have choices about how I respond to situations, to events and to people."
"No-one can make me upset, angry, happy or experience any other emotion unless I choose to allow them to do so."
"Identifying my choices empowers me to take a fresh look at my behaviour."
"Recognising my range of choices is an excellent way to start changing my behaviour for the better."
"I can practise and I can learn new and more effective behaviours."
Here are six ways in which you can practice emotional intelligence.
 
1. Consciously tune into your emotions. 
 
When you've been ignoring your emotions for years, it can be quite challenging to tune into them. Notice what is happening in your body with each emotion.
 
Is your jaw tight?
 
Is your back sore?
 
Are your fists clenched?
Is your brow furrowed?
 
Physical sensations can give clues as to what you're experiencing emotionally.
 
Try scanning your whole body to determine what you're experiencing physically and how this relates to your thinking and what you're feeling. As you practice this you'll become more skilled at noticing feelings, even some small subtle ones.
 
 
2. Look at layers of feelings.
 
Frequently when people experience an emotion they focus on the most obvious or most intense emotion. For example, in an argument it's easy to notice that you're angry but there are other feelings that surround this.
 
Maybe you're feeling scared, or anxious, or lonely, or unloved.  These emotions can happen all at the same time.
One doesn't cancel the other one out. They exist together creating a rich tapestry of emotion.
 
3. When you're experiencing an intense feeling, ask yourself, "What else am I feeling?" In an argument, you're probably expressing anger as the most intense feeling but, in theory, you can choose to express any of the feelings. Focus your energy and attention on one of these feelings versus another.  Deliberately select a feeling and work on intensifying it.
 
A tip is to think about how an actor or actress would work to express this feeling. What happens? As you practice, you'll find it will be easier to bring one of your feelings to the fore.  It's not about being insincere, it's about choosing one of your feelings as a new starting point.
 
4. Consider being more optimistic, but in a realistic way.
 
When you're caught up in situations that don't seem to be going right it's easy to become quite pessimistic. This can limit your thinking, especially if your options seem limited. While sometimes it's reasonable and useful to be sad, critical, scared, or even helpless and desperate, you're not likely to solve the problem if you stay in that state.
 
This secret is realistic optimism, and to allow yourself to feel these feelings and use these to clarify the problem enabling you to create new options for finding solutions. Acknowledge the seriousness of the problem and consider alternatives from a realistic perspective.
 
What is it that you need to learn, strengthen, or to get some help with so that you can implement these solutions?
 
Are there any people or books or websites or other resources that can help you?
 
Practising this will build the way that you work with optimism and strengthen your growth mindset. In time, you'll find it easier to acknowledge the true nature of the problem and to create solutions to the problem simultaneously.
 
 
5. Ask, "Is this a factual issue or a relationship issue?"
 
You'll be able to process factual information easily as your brain will have been trained to analyse data at school and at work.  Emotional data about the impact on people in relationships is important but you have to build your skills to consider these. Many people find this difficult and are so focused on being right that they ignore emotional data.
 
Consider everyone involved and make a concerted effort to believe that their views are just as important as yours and they could be just as right as you are. This helps to open up new perspectives and to build empathy.
 
 
6. Build upon this as you ask yourself, "What will create the most value for all of us?" With so many demands on you, it's easy to become overwhelmed by competing needs and to take a short term focus in the face of uncertainty.
 
Look at creating value for everyone by thinking about the problem from a point in the future - say, five years from now. By doing this, you will get a longer term view; a longer term perspective, leading to options that will still matter in five years time focusing attention and energy on what is most important.
 
Emotional intelligence can be practised easily without special equipment or a big financial investment, without travelling anywhere or leading a team. You can practise it every day, and you can practise it any time and in any situation.
 
Developing your emotional intelligence may seem to be very difficult. When people are making changes in their emotional intelligence, they often assume an "all-or-nothing" mindset - a dramatic change in their behaviour or stay as they are.
 
However, there is an alternative - the One Percent Solution. Identify something that will constitute a very small but slight improvement and work on it.
 
Work on it every day to make it an unconscious habit. As time goes by, these small improvements accumulate and you suddenly find a very big gap between how you were and how you've improved.
 
What small changes can you make?
 
What are you going to do differently?
 
What will the impact be?
 
A good example is, when you arrive at work say "Good morning" consistently to a particular person. Over time, you'll notice a shift in their attitude and behaviour and this will affect your attitude and behaviour.
You'll also notice people who make slightly better decisions on a daily basis and those who don't.
 
Making the changes requires repetition and rehearsal over the weeks. It doesn't matter if you mess it up.  Just try it!!
 
Do's and Don'ts for using Emotional Intelligence.
 
Don't assume that you don't bring your emotions to work with you. You don't leave them at home.
 
How do you feel about your job?
 
Do you love it?
 
Do you hate it? 
 
The way in which you answer the questions will give you an understanding that there is some emotional component to the way in which you approach your work.
 
Don't think that emotional intelligence is not relevant for your job. You need to make decisions in your work. These will be underpinned by how you feel about the situation and how you use your thinking and how you use your intuition.
 
Don't think that your emotional intelligence needs no further development. It does! You will continually look at ways of improving yourself and the way in which you work with others.
 
Here are some Do's in terms of working with your emotional intelligence.
 
Look at how you emotionally react to other people.
 
How do they make you feel?
 
How do you use those emotions and feelings in terms of your relationship?
 
Consider ways in which you might test and develop your emotional intelligence. We've looked at the EQ-i 2.0 assessment as a test and a measure.
 
There are others available. Work with a coach who can help you to work with your emotions and understand how you're reacting to situations.
 
Ask yourself honestly how well you react to the concerns of other people.
 
How do you use your empathy?
 
Can you see things from their perspective?
 
And, finally, enjoy working with your emotional intelligence.