• The Positive Professional

Daily Practices to Help You Work on Emotional Intelligence

If a person lacks confidence in their own ability to handle a tough situation, then they are more likely to emotionally fall apart during difficult moments. But if a person already is aware that they are in full control of their emotions as opposed to letting their emotions control them, then they will be able to stop their impulses from running wild at a time when it would not benefit them to do so.

Some simple suggestions to put into daily practice:

Become aware of your emotional reactions. Observe yourself as an outsider might. Keep emotions in check until an appropriate time when it is safe to pull them out and examine the feelings in a more thorough way. Write down your thoughts in a private journal. Track and chronicle the various emotions you experienced over the course of your day. Write about how you were impacted and by whom.

Practice listening to others and really hearing them. When someone else is talking, get into the habit of looking into their eyes. Study their facial expressions. Become aware of the positioning of their body parts and any movements they make. Do they sigh? Laugh? Bite their lower lip? Do they convey confidence with their words but show fear and doubt in the way they carry their body - their posture? Is their voice high pitched and nervous? Do they speak rapidly, conveying anxiousness or excitement? Fully listening to others with all of your senses engaged will give you the complete profile of what emotions they may be having (or hiding) at this moment.

Explore the emotions of characters in movies and books. This is especially helpful if you want to work on empathy. How are you able to relate to the thoughts and feelings of the characters? In what way are they multi-dimensional as opposed to being surface and flat? An example of this could be the villain with a heart who engages in violent acts but never misses a night of tenderly tucking his daughter into bed. Discover why the characters do and say what they do and what feelings have to do with it all. Apply what you learn to real-life people and situations.

Identify and choose the assertive response. The next time you find yourself getting emotional, take time to fully examine the why. Let's say that you're riled up over a request someone has made of you. What about this request is causing you to feel like lashing out emotionally? Is it something about the tone of voice? Does the situation trigger an early memory for you? If you tend to react, what is your general response and how might the other person be affected? Do you tend toward negative body language and words? Would your reaction be considered hostile, passive-aggressive or off-putting in some way?

Once you identify how this scenario might relate to your past, you can recognize that this is merely your own emotional mind at work. In doing so, you can move past the block that prevents you from asserting yourself, and into a new and more effective and powerful way of communicating.

Emotional Intelligence Means Knowing How to Channel Your Energy in Healthy Ways One way that emotionally intelligent people stay in command of their own emotional state is by channeling feelings toward a useful purpose. Instead of taking their peers through scene after painstaking scene, they have learned to redirect their emotions into things like exercise and creative pastimes. Healthy ways to channel sadness: Work out your issues in a private diary or journal. Writing in a diary or journal can bring clarity and help us move through emotional difficulties that challenge us. It's also a way to resolve conflict in our own minds so we can quite literally turn the page on the relationship problems that confound us. Do creative writing. Emotional difficulties spur creativity in a big way. You might end up writing a novel or penning lyrics to a beautiful song, simply by having the need to express your thoughts and feelings. Draw or paint. Kids who are going through emotional challenges can work through their emotions by drawing pictures. A child may have trouble verbalizing scared feelings or frustration, but they can certainly express themselves by drawing a terrifying monster. Adults, too, can benefit from art therapy. Craft, explore nature, garden, cook. Difficulty with emotions can lead us into an obsessed mindset where we can't seem to turn off negative thoughts. A shift into grounding activities such as hiking in the woods, creating something with our hands, cooking, or gardening can break us out of the prison of our own minds. Healthy ways to channel anxious or depressed feelings: Do yoga. If you've never tried yoga before, your first step might be to watch a few instructional videos on YouTube. It may also be helpful to get the basic poses down by purchasing a book that covers each one step by step in detail. Organize your space. Physical clutter contributes to mental clutter which isn't healthy for our emotional well being. You'll feel calmer and more collected when you clear a space in your home to relax and enjoy your favorite activities. Meditate. Meditation is the simple act of focusing your mind on one thing, such as a word or a visual while concentrating on breathing. With practice, you'll reap the benefits of less stress and greater ability to focus on your daily activities. Practice mindful breathing. Mindful breathing can help you get through emotional challenges by giving you something to focus on that settles your nervous system. The more often you practice mindful breathing, the better you'll become at it, and the greater your ability to control your emotions as a result. Get a massage. Massage is a terrific way to release tension in the muscles which can heighten our emotional reactions by setting off the nervous system as a response to stimuli in the environment. The more often you give yourself a professional massage, the more vast the benefits to your emotional well being. Sing. Singing is actually a way to express emotions that also exercises the lungs and diaphragm to improve breathing. When we learn to breathe better, we become more skilled at handling emotional challenges as a result of being more calm and collected. Talk with a friend or counselor. Speaking openly about emotions remains one of the best forms of healing, which is why people continue to seek the help of a counselor or therapist when needed. Choose a friend who you know will offer support and be a non-judgmental person to tell your problems to. In sharing with others, you main gain insights into your emotional challenges simply by having that third-party perspective to help you see things in a different way.

Ways to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence Can emotional intelligence be improved? Can you develop a greater emotional intelligence as a grown adult? Science says yes, emotional awareness is something that we can cultivate in ourselves at any age. Competitive work environments foster the development of emotional intelligence techniques and skills as a means of grooming leaders.

Become aware of your own emotions - give them a name. One area where emotional intelligence-lacking individuals may struggle is in identifying emotions in themselves. To do this requires one to move from feeling into thinking mode - an observational mindset that is based in mindfulness. Each day, tune into your own inner signals. Pay attention to how you're feeling at any given moment based on what's happening. Did some say or do something (or not do or not say something) to cause an emotional reaction in you? Give the emotion a name. In time, you will grow in awareness of your own emotional state and become more of a self observer rather than a reactor. Build empathy: practice tuning in to other people's emotions. Once you've become good at identifying emotions in yourself, you can move on to identifying the feelings of other people. Pay attention to body language, facial expressions, vocal tone and words expressed. Compare their experiences to your own, and the emotions that you associate with a particular reaction or situation. Look for subtle nonverbal reactions too - the raised eyebrow, the shrug, the deep sigh, the downcast gaze. Try to identify with how others feel if you can. From here one can grow in understanding of why people emotionally react the way they do and how this can be utilized for a positive outcome in relationships. Choose not to react immediately during an emotionally charged encounter. Self-control is extremely important on the path to increased emotional intelligence. This is what separates child-like, impulsive reactions from controlled and well-timed rational adult responses, not to mention carefully chosen words. Mature adults are better able to look after children's safety and well being as well as teach them valuable skills when they have mastered control of their own emotional reactions. Become conscious of when your emotions are starting to get the best of you. Employ calming techniques to move out of the neurological state of emotional upheaval or distress. Practice mindful breathing; try meditation for better mental awareness and control. Learn to observe in a detached and analytical way. Choose the assertive rather than aggressive or passive-aggressive response. Assertiveness is about clearly expressing one's needs or wishes and stating where you stand on a particular issue while also factoring in the thoughts and opinions of others. Assertiveness is a skill that may elude many people until well into their thirties and beyond. So if you feel that you have a way to go before becoming assertive this is normal and typical, and it can be achieved by working on emotional intelligence strategies.

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