How Emotionally Intelligent Are You?
Boosting Your People Skills
We all know people who are in full control of their emotions. They're calm in a crisis, and they make decisions sensitively, however stressful the situation.
We also know people who can read the emotions of others. They understand what to say to make people feel better, and they know how to inspire them to take action.
People like this have high emotional intelligence (or EI). They have strong relationships, and they manage difficult situations calmly and effectively. They're also likely to be resilient in the face of adversity.
So, how emotionally intelligent are you, and how can you develop further? Find out below.
How well do you know yourself and your emotions?
How Emotionally Intelligent Are You?
Evaluate each statement as you actually are, rather than as you think you should be. When you've finished, click "Calculate My Total," and use the table that follows to think about next steps.
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15 Statements to Answer
|Not at All||Rarely||Sometimes||Often||Very Often|
|1 I can recognize my emotions as I experience them.|
|2 I lose my temper when I feel frustrated.|
|3 People have told me that I'm a good listener.|
|4 I know how to calm myself down when I feel anxious or upset.|
|5 I enjoy organizing groups.|
|6 I find it hard to focus on something over the long term.|
|7 I find it difficult to move on when I feel frustrated or unhappy.|
|8 I know my strengths and weaknesses.|
|9 I avoid conflict and negotiations.|
|10 I feel that I don't enjoy my work.|
|11 I ask people for feedback on what I do well, and how I can improve.|
|12 I set long-term goals, and review my progress regularly.|
|13 I find it difficult to read other people's emotions.|
|14 I struggle to build rapport with others.|
|15 I use active listening skills when people speak to me.|
You need to work on your emotional intelligence. You may find that you feel overwhelmed by your emotions, especially in stressful situations; or, you may avoid conflict because you think that you'll find it distressing.
It's likely, too, that you find it hard to calm down after you've felt upset, and you may struggle to build strong working relationships.
Don't worry – there are plenty of ways that you can build emotional intelligence, starting now. Read our tips below to find out more.
Your emotional intelligence level is... OK.
You probably have good relationships with some of your colleagues, but others may be more difficult to work with.
The good news is that you have a great opportunity to improve your working relationships significantly. Read more below to boost your EI still further.
Great! You're an emotionally intelligent person. You have great relationships, and you probably find that people approach you for advice.
However, when so many people admire your people skills, it's easy to lose sight of your own needs. Read our tips below to find out how you can continue to build your EI.
Researchers have found that emotionally intelligent people often have great leadership potential. Realize this potential by seeking opportunities to improve even further.
Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence
Psychologist Daniel Goleman identified five elements that make up emotional intelligence. These are:
- Social skills.
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In his 1995 book "Emotional Intelligence: Why it can Matter More Than IQ," Goleman explained that people with high self-awareness are "aware of their moods as they are having them."
To increase self-awareness, learn about mindfulness. This involves focusing on the present moment – including how you're feeling. And keep a journal in which you write about and analyze the emotional situations you experience from day to day.
You also need to understand your strengths and weaknesses to build self-awareness. Do a personal SWOT analysis, and ask for feedback from your boss, friends, and trusted colleagues to find out how you can improve further.
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Self-regulation is about staying in control. To develop your skills in this area, learn how to manage your emotions effectively.
If you often get angry, note what triggers this feeling, and think about why this happens. Use techniques such as deep breathing to calm yourself down, and give yourself time to pause before you respond to emails or requests, so that you don't say something that you'll later regret. (See our article on anger management to learn more about this.)
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Self-motivation is strongly affected by your emotions. When you're distracted by your emotions, you may find it hard to see tasks through.
Also, set yourself longer-term goals. When you decide what you want to achieve, you'll focus on what really matters to you. This can be highly motivating, especially when you connect personal goals with career-related ones.
If you're still struggling to get motivated in your current role, take some time to rediscover your purpose.
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Empathy is the ability to recognize other people's emotions and understand their perspectives. Goleman calls this aspect of EI "the fundamental people skill."
To develop empathy, start by simply thinking about other people's viewpoints. Imagine how they may be feeling, and use active listening skills to understand them fully when they express their emotions to you.
Try not to interrupt or talk about your own feelings during the conversation. Look at their body language, too: it can tell you a lot about their emotions. If you watch and listen to others, you'll quickly become attuned to how they feel. (The Perceptual Positions technique can give you a particularly sharp insight into what other people may be thinking and feeling.)
If you're a leader, read our article "What's Empathy Got to do With it?" for tips on using empathy in leadership.
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Even if you're not a natural "people person," it is possible to develop better social skills.
Start by taking our quiz to see which communication skills you need to improve on. Then, find out how you can develop trust and rapport with people – this is an essential part of building good working relationships.
Don't shy away from negative situations, either. Learn how to deal with conflict and other difficult situations effectively.
If you're uncomfortable with social situations, work on building self-confidence. Start slowly, but then look for opportunities to practice your skills with bigger groups. For example, you could offer to attend conferences on behalf of your team.
Developing high emotional intelligence (or EI) is incredibly important for a successful career. When we have high levels of emotional intelligence, we're able to build strong working relationships and manage difficult situations more effectively.
Influential psychologist Daniel Goleman developed a framework of five elements that define emotional intelligence:
- Social skills.
Even if you already have many of the elements of emotional intelligence, it's important to look for opportunities to build it further. This will increase your leadership potential, and improve the quality of your relationships.
(For more detail, see our full emotional intelligence article and video and take a look at our infographic, below. Mind Tools Premium Club members and corporate users can also access our exclusive Expert Interview podcast with Daniel Goleman, /community/ExpertInterviews/DanielGoleman.phphere.)
Click on the image below to see Goleman’s theory represented in an infographic:
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