A necessity for success: 10 ways to improve your emotional intelligence

Daniel Tolson

FocalPoint owner and business coach Daniel Tolson. Source: Supplied.

We have all heard of book smarts, street smarts and those known to magically solve number puzzles in a flash.

But it’s important to know just how crucial a high level of emotional intelligence is for business success and fostering a positive workplace culture.

Over the years, I have identified five vital functions of emotional intelligence that I have then firmly embedded within my business coaching strategies:

  • Self-awareness;
  • Self-regulation;
  • Motivation;
  • Social-awareness (empathy); and
  • Social-regulation (social skills).

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

1. Begin the journey to enhanced self-awareness

It’s time to start to self-reflect, learn more about yourself and what drives you. Once you start on a journey to better understand yourself, you’ll be able to begin to see where you may be able to improve. Self-awareness is an ongoing commitment and it only takes small incremental improvement to see progress. The more we know and understand about ourselves and the way we respond to various scenarios, the better prepared we can be for the unexpected.

2. Understanding the root cause of self-limiting beliefs

Self-limiting beliefs are self-sabotaging behaviours and being more aware of these through self-regulation may allow us to neutralise any related negative habit patterns. There is evidence of significant change in most of my client’s behaviour following the implementation of these strategies. Their ability to succeed dramatically increases as they grow more emotionally intelligent over time by adopting and understanding the strategies set out.

3. Remain motivated when your hard work fails

Motivation is not about jumping up and down and moving around, it is picking yourself up when you have been knocked down as a result of some kind of struggle, failure, traumatic event, reversal or emotional blockage that may occur.

4. Learn the value in empathising with others

Empathy is how we all connect. We are all different, although we are all driven by emotional decision-making. It is a powerful skill to develop if you can open yourself to be vulnerable enough in the workplace to allow others to see you are human too.

5. Authenticity in communication

Through interaction and engagement, we can all build connections with people, and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.

Our interactions with friends, families, colleagues, clients and others are all based around people’s reactions and involvement.

Keep in mind that body language, effort and something as simple as remembering others names in social settings is something that generates respect and social connections. People are more likely to support, guide, help, seek, lean, shift and collaborate with those they trust, respect and have a personal professional connection with.

Be more conscious of your surroundings

In order to be more socially-aware, we need to be mindful of others around us and the environment we are in.

Be more observant before you dive into a situation and assess the personalities so you can accept, adjust and respond accordingly to the mood, emotional tone and energy of others.

Emotional intelligence and workplace culture

Emotional intelligence was once just a term used by researchers and academics, but today, it is used in our everyday discussions, boardrooms and even more so when we are creating dynamic frameworks for long-term culture.

The more we open our minds to the power of emotional intelligence, the more successfully we can do everything else, including enhanced personal development, better leading effective teams and reaching our full business potential.

Here are 10 ways to improve emotional intelligence

  1.   Ask an honest, trusted friend or advisor to help you consider if your perceptions of yourself are realistic from a different perspective.
  2.   Practice self-restraint by listening first, pausing and then responding.
  3.   Summarise frustrations you may experience and determine triggers.
  4.   Define what motivates you and what you most enjoy doing with your time.
  5.   Think on paper! Identify your comfort zones and define your obstacles in writing. In medicine, they say ‘an accurate diagnosis is 50% of the cure’.
  6.   Be aware of the message your body language is communicating.
  7.   Implement strategies to make an excellent first impression.
  8.   After a negative interaction or misunderstanding, accept responsibility and find ways to make amends.
  9.   Allow others to take the lead role so you can learn from their leadership style.
  10.   Whenever you experience stress stop and ask yourself this question: ‘Knowing what I now know, what would I do differently?’ Once you have the answer resolve to make that change immediately.  

NOW READ: Why emotional intelligence is the new black

NOW READ: Whatever you think you know about ‘good leadership’ is wrong


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Bowen Douglas
Bowen Douglas
3 years ago

Excellent article. I really liked your honest, authentic approach.

Point 7 really struck me as the crux of personal branding, and Point 9 was a great reminder that you don’t always need to maintain the “alpha” position.

3 years ago

Great article Daniel. This is really valuable and applicable information to leadership at all levels. Thanks for sharing!

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