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How Emotionally Intelligent Are You Really? & How to Improve Now

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Read Time: 10 mins

There’s a lot of talk in business about the value of having high emotional intelligence. It’s meant to improve your leadership skills and make your team run more smoothly. 

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Do you know how emotionally intelligent you are? (Image source: Envato Elements)

Wondering how to develop high emotional intelligence, and how it can benefit your business? This guide will help you do an emotional intelligence self-assessment and develop this important leadership skill. 

But what exactly do people mean by emotional intelligence, and is there a way to find out how emotionally intelligent you are? In this guide, you’ll get the answers to those questions, and will learn more about how to improve your emotional intelligence.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Lexico defines emotional intelligence, sometimes also called "emotional quotient" as:

“the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”

If you've got high emotional intelligence, you'll be in touch with your own emotions. You'll understand where they come from and will be able to manage them effectively. This will help you:

  • manage stress
  • reduce conflict
  • deal with challenges
  • show empathy
  • be a good communicator

Both within and outside the workplace, having high emotional intelligence pays off with relationships with colleagues and friends. Plus, the ability to understand and process your feelings makes you more effective in making decisions and setting goals, driving success at work and elsewhere.

There are five main attributes of emotional intelligence. Use these to do a quick emotional intelligence self assessment and see how you stack up. The attributes are: 

  1. Self-awareness. Understanding your feelings, your emotional triggers, your strengths and your weaknesses.
  2. Self-management. The ability to control your emotions rather than letting them control you.
  3. Motivation. Knowing your preferences and using those to guide you to action and achievement and being able to cope with setbacks.
  4. Social awareness or empathy. Understanding and acting on the subtle and subliminal signals that show the emotional temperature of a given setting
  5. Relationship management. Being able to motivate and inspire team members

In contrast, people who have low emotional intelligence find it difficult to:

  • recognize and understand their own feelings
  • handle their own emotions
  • pick up subtle social cues
  • manage relationships with others and motivate teams

How to Measure Emotional Intelligence With an EQ Skills Test

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Did you know that you can do an emotional intelligence self assessment? (Image source: Envato Elements)

An EQ skills test is an easy way to figure out how emotionally intelligent you are. One of these is the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test, which assesses four branches of emotional intelligence:

  1. perceiving emotion (faces and pictures)
  2. facilitating thought (senses and facilitation)
  3. understanding emotion (blends and changes)
  4. managing emotion (emotion management and emotional relations)

There are many other in-depth EQ skills tests used by organizations, including the Emotional Quotient Inventory 2.0 and the Profile of Emotional Competence (PEC). Positive Psychology has a useful assessment of some of the most widely used tests. 

But if you just want a quick emotional intelligence self assessment, here are some free emotional intelligence quizzes and tests to get you started: 

Workplace Benefits of Improving Emotional Intelligence

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Try taking an emotional intelligence quiz for free to learn more about your emotional quotient. (Image source: Envato Elements)

With the free emotional intelligence quizzes above, you'll be able to figure out how you'll handle stressful or disappointing situations. You'll also learn how you'll interact with people in different work settings. When leaders and managers have high emotional intelligence it results in:

  • Better team performance, as leaders are able to understand and manage the emotions of both themselves and team members, and motivate team members in the most effective way
  • Reduced stress and anxiety, and improved wellbeing, because team members deal with feelings and emotions, rather than suppressing them
  • Better decision making, because you're better able to consider how people will feel about proposed actions

10 Ways to Improve Emotional Intelligence

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Knowing more about your emotional intelligence can help you deal with coworkers. (Image source: Envato Elements)

If you want to improve how emotionally intelligent you are, and get the benefits of high emotional intelligence, here are ten areas you can work on:

1. Name Your Emotions

Did you know that the simple act of naming your emotions makes them less intense? If you're able to identify and acknowledge the emotions you feel in a given situation, you'll be better able to operate from a place of balance rather than a place of fear or anxiety.  

The Six Seconds EQ Model is one option for doing this. It encourages people to:

  • Know Yourself. Understand what you're feeling. 
  • Choose Yourself. Figure out how to take action.
  • Give Yourself. Know what you really want.

But the most powerful starting point for developing emotional intelligence is acknowledging and learning to manage emotions.

2. Develop Empathy

One of the things emotional intelligence self assessments measure is empathy. 

Empathy is your ability to put yourself in others' shoes, emotionally speaking. It's about understanding - and sometimes anticipating - other people's needs, concerns and emotions.

Empathy can really help build trust. If you spill water at a restaurant, and the server appears to mop it up before you ask, that's a sign they've anticipated your needs. 

For example, some company leaders know that when a highly charged incident occurs related to social justice, their Black employees will need more emotional support. So, they offer that in advance. That's a sign of high emotional intelligence, and lets those employees know that leaders empathize with them. 

A starting point for developing this awareness is to be more curious and ask how people feel about situations. Over time, you'll find that you can anticipate based on the knowledge you've acquired.

Learn more in this tutorial:

3. Be Self-Aware

In developing emotional intelligence, it's key to know yourself. EQ skills tests are a good starting point, but you can also do your own assessment of what you think your strengths and weaknesses are. Check in with the people who know you best and ask them what they think about your strengths and weaknesses. 

Think also about what stresses you out, how you respond to that stress, and what calms you down or reduces stress.

Try keeping a journal for a period of time and making note of what your feelings and reactions are in different situations. This can also help you to avoid any self-limiting beliefs that are holding you back. 

Learn more about self-limiting beliefs here:

4. Develop Self-Confidence

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Knowing more about your emotional intelligence can lead to improved self-confidence. (Image source: Envato Elements)

A welcome side-effect of self-awareness is self-confidence. Knowing yourself, recognizing your emotions and trusting your ability to manage them boosts your confidence that you'll be able to handle the situations that arise in your workplace and your life.  Some other ways to develop self-confidence include:

  • Improve your body language.
  • Stay away from negative thoughts.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others.

Learn more in the tutorial:

5. Be Forgiving

The ability to forgive and forget, and to avoid taking offence unduly, are signs of high emotional intelligence. It means you're able to manage and process your own emotions, and accept those of others. This helps you avoid holding grudges or blaming people unnecessarily and work together to find solutions.

The ability to forgive also relieves stress, creating a healthier workplace. One way to get started with forgiveness is to own your part in any situation and learn how to apologize sincerely and effectively. You can also share that technique with others in your team to boost everyone's emotional intelligence. 

Here are some techniques for making a sincere apology:

6. Avoid Perfectionism

Sometimes we think of perfectionism as something positive, that urges us to keep improving. But perfectionism can also limit us by making us procrastinate so we don't actually get anything done. 

Fighting perfectionism is another way to improve emotional intelligence and be a better colleague. It means you won't be the one holding things up while striving for perfection. You'll recognize when a product or service is good enough to be released. Plus, recognizing that trait can help you grow, as Enterprisers Project points out. 

7. Take Time to Recharge

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To perform your best, make time for you. (Image source: Envato Elements)

As well as keeping a  handle on your emotions, it's useful to know when you need to step back or recharge after a stressful situation, and to actually do it. That can cut down on emotionally charged situations that are best avoided.

Looking after your mental health helps you stay on track and be a better leader and colleague. Plus it'll let others in your team know that it's ok to focus on mental health. 

Discover more ways to promote mental health in the workplace here:

8. Be an Active Listener

As I mentioned, taking the emotional temperature of a room and having social awareness are key parts of developing emotional intelligence. Practicing active listening is a good way to get better at identifying and understanding others' feelings.

Active listening means giving people who are speaking your complete attention and responding thoughtfully to what they've said. It helps you tune into the other person's feelings and emotions, so you can respond in a helpful way.

We share tips on developing active listening skills in this article:

9.  Respond, Don't React

Another tactic for increasing your emotional intelligence skills is to avoid rushing to judgement in any situation of conflict.

Instead of reacting out of emotion and escalating a situation where other people are also acting from emotion, take a moment to pause and reflect so you can give a considered response.

Of course, this is easier said than done. But when you take time to think and understand where the other people are coming from, you can often achieve a better resolution to a situation.

Discover more about how to deal with conflict:

10. Take Responsibility 

A key component of emotional intelligence is taking responsibility. This means acting in a way to benefit the group or team, even if you personally don't gain from it. And it means being aware of and concerned about how you affect others. Developing social responsibility will smooth the work of the team by aiding communication. 

When you put all the above traits together, that's the sign of high emotional intelligence. And if your colleagues are also emotionally intelligent,  it means that your team will communicate and work well. 

Share What You've Learned With Envato Tools

Want to share what you've learned about emotional intelligence with others? Envato Elements has the graphics and templates you need to create stunning presentations. Download as many as you want for one low price. There are also templates for one-off use on GraphicRiver.

Become More Emotionally Intelligent Today!

In this article, you've learned about the signs of high emotional intelligence. I've shared tome free emotional intelligence quizzes so you can figure how emotionally intelligent you are. And you've learned how to build your EQ skills. Now it's time to apply what you've learned to become a better leader and colleague.

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