Ten Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence: The Workforce Institute Weigh-In

The Workforce Institute Weigh-In for June 2023: What does emotional intelligence (EI) mean to you and what can someone do to improve their EI? 
 
“EI is all about understanding how emotions influence (and often cloud) your thinking and being able to adjust your behavior accordingly, as well as reading and responding to people well. In this era of fake news and the 24-hour news cycle, these skills are necessary now more than ever. The first step to improving EI is being self-reflective and understanding the impact of your decisions on yourself and others.”— Dr. Jarik Conrad, executive director, The Workforce Institute at UKG 
 
“Rather than answer what EI means to me, I’d rather refer to a paper by ScienceForWork. This paper shows EI is a mix of seven well-known psychological factors, such as emotional stability and conscientiousness. If we focus on one of the most important of these factors — emotional stability — we find there isn’t all that much research on how to improve it. However, what’s there suggests focusing on learning to relax and calming one’s anxieties. This can be approached via meditation and there is moderately good evidence that meditation works. Bottom line: to improve EI, learn to calm yourself. Meditation is one way of doing so.” — David Creelman, CEO, Creelman Research 
 
“EI largely revolves around empathy and the ability to appreciate the feelings of others. Although harder to reach than IQ, there is a growing market for leaders with EI strength. EI is largely gained through experiences outside of one’s own area of comfort, by learning how other groups and individuals see the world and why.” — John Frehse, senior managing director, Ankura, and co-host, “No Suits, No Slides! video series 
 
“To me, EI in a business environment means the ability to understand the diplomatic subtext of any situation you are in and to conduct yourself accordingly. It means being able to see a scenario from a variety of perspectives, even those with which you don’t necessarily agree. You can improve your EI by listening more than you speak and by regularly venturing outside your ‘bubble’ to interact with people different from you.” — Alexandra Levit, co-author, “Deep Talent 
 
“EI is broad and deep situational awareness within the context of relationship management and leadership, where self-awareness is the foundational attribute. Those with relatively high levels of EI will have a deep understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and have a high degree of understanding of how their outward emotions impact others. These conditions must then be supported by self-management to achieve high levels of EI. The #1 suggestion to improve EI is to engage an expert-level EI coach with the goal of evolving one’s EI. While most people can self-learn many things, it is difficult to get objective feedback from oneself, and this is why using an expert-level EI coach is essential toward achieving higher levels of EI.” — Dennis Miller, associate vice president, HR and benefits administration, The Claremont Colleges 
 
“EI is our ability to understand, use, and manage our emotions, so we can communicate, connect, empathize, and navigate conflict with ourselves and others effectively. And, just like our other areas of intelligence, we must work intentionally to cultivate and improve our EI. The first step to improvement is cultivating our self-awareness. We must take time to notice our thoughts and to name the emotions associated with the sensations our thoughts create in our bodies. One of the coolest and most underutilized superpowers of humans is our ability to think about our thoughts — then to choose and/or change what and why we think! These skills are the core of self-awareness. When we don’t tap into these abilities, our relationships will eventually suffer and begin to break down. The good news is we don’t need anyone else’s help to work on improvement in this area! We only need to schedule time to sit with ourselves to interrogate and challenge our thoughts. 
 
The next step to improvement is cultivating our empathy for others. This requires us to be able to listen to understand the other person’s intention and meaning, and to use our imaginations to see the other person’s point of view. Empathy requires us to interact with others. Getting it wrong can cause upset and harm to the other person. So, when we are working on cultivating empathy, it is safer to start with people who are familiar with us and who are willing to extend their grace and feedback to us. Another option is to expose ourselves to different types of media than we normally consume. Choose a book, movie, or podcast by someone or about a topic that makes us uncomfortable, then challenge ourselves to understand the point of view better. Both options are great ways to begin improving our empathy. Cultivating and improving our EI is a journey with many milestones but no permanent destination. This means we should all embrace the process and continue to challenge ourselves to be better at it.” — Sarah Morgan, director of equity and inclusion, Humareso 
 
“EI refers to understanding and managing emotions, both your own and others. It’s about empathetic engagement, recognizing emotional cues, and responding appropriately. To improve EI, cultivate curiosity about people’s feelings and experiences. Start by asking open-ended questions in a safe, judgment-free environment. Then, extend this practice to your team, meetings with colleagues, and even your interactions with C-suite leaders.” — Laurie Ruettimann, host, Punk Rock HR podcast