Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the capability of individuals to be aware of their own emotions and those of others, to be able to tell the difference between which emotions are which. All of the wars in history were started because differences couldn’t be worked out. Everyone benefits from better emotional intelligence.

But how to get more emotional intelligence?

If that’s what you’re thinking, then you’re in luck. Follow these eight proven methods to increase your emotional intelligence and bring more composure, focus, joy and happiness to your life.

Grow a healthy curiosity about others

Curiosity comes from empathy, which is one of the most important components to emotional intelligence. You can also think about what they feel and how they struggle if you are curious about people. 

On the other side, those with a low EQ don’t have any interest in others. They’re not interested in what others feel or think. Their primary emphasis is on themselves.

Learn a detailed emotional vocabulary

Research performed by Travis Bradberry, the author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, shows that this ability to recognize and comprehend feelings is only available to around 36 percent of us.

This is due in part to insufficient emotional vocabulary which prevents us from identifying what we actually feel. An example of an insufficient emotional vocabulary is to call our negative feelings “bad” and our positive feelings “good”, instead of articulating them accurately.

Those with high EQ name their feelings accurately, which then helps them to communicate and deal with them in the best ways possible.

Adopt a holistic approach

Emotions are not the only thing you would want to focus on when increasing your emotional intelligence. Yes, feel the emotions and get good at letting them pass through you, but also work on your views, your beliefs. Work on your peer group. Improve the quality of the people you spend the most time with. Be picky with the quality of the information you consume. All of these things are essential for increasing EQ.

Work on your composure 

There are many scenarios where it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and lose your cool. When someone is teasing you, or calling you out, or insulting you in order to provoke a response. Work to become strong enough that when you’re in this situation, you are secure about who you are and what you’re capable of. You should be able to avoid letting people get under your skin so easily.

Seek to understand what people are feeling with your emotional intelligence

Seeking greater emotional intelligence provides you with the opportunity to better read and understand the thoughts and emotions of others. You are in tune with them, and as a result communication is dramatically improved. The better your emotional intelligence, the more skilled you become at making character assessments. 

Leave the past behind

Programmed behaviors and thought patterns are the toughest to handle when they surface, especially if you have a low emotional intelligence.

The past is going to haunt you and influence your behaviour no matter where you go or what you learn. The way to escape it and develop new behaviors is to confront your past and address it consciously.

Therapists are trained to help people through past memories and undesirable behavioral patterns.

If you’re looking for an affordable, trained, professional therapist, try BetterHelp.

Give freely

Those with a high emotional intelligence give freely, without expecting anything back. Since you’re always in touch with other people’s feelings, you understand what it can mean to others to offer words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, time and care. You are able to be there for someone else when they need you.

This attitude of giving unconditionally encourages deeper connections and relationships.

Learn how to deal with toxic people without compromising your own peace of mind

This is possibly the most difficult of all—more so if we’re talking about family—but it’s worth it.

Toxic people will always try to provoke you. It can be helpful to reduce exposure to toxic people in your life, but whenever you meet them, you’ll always deal with them in an awkward manner. That’s why they’re toxic.

There’s a saying: those who are the hardest to love are the ones that need it the most.

When you’re with toxic people, you feel surges of negative emotions which can lead to you lashing out. This hurts both you and them, because ultimately they need patient, composed people to help them break the cycle.

Lashing out also fuels even more of their toxic behavior, a perpetuating cycle of negativity. However, if you have a high emotional intelligence when dealing with a toxic individual, you can keep yourself composed. You do not allow your rage to overwhelm you. Although toxic individuals are quickly flustered by most people, you can handle them calmly. 

Increasing your emotional intelligence is within your immediate power

It’s this straightforward, and these are only eight of the many ways to improve your EQ. However, start small and build your progress step by step and you will be on track to sure success.

To learn more about emotional intelligence you can listen to our podcast episode with Mansi Dholakia here.

You may also want to check out Emotional Intelligence 2.0, the best-selling book by authors Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.