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LOGO for Workforce Enhancement Program  / Coaching, Evaluating and Delivering Constructive Feedback – Learning Series Emotional intelligence encompasses the perception of your own and other people’s emotions and the ability to positively influence those emotions.  At the center of emotional intelligence is the intuitive concept that “happiness is contagious.”  That is, your own optimism and outlook can promote optimism among your employees.  Research has shown that the effect is more profound than one might imagine.  This job aid focuses on how you can improve your emotional intelligence to positively affect others.

How do I improve my emotional intelligence?

Accurately reading emotions is a well-researched and complex subject; here are three high-level recommendations to increase your emotional intelligence.

Practice, execute, and reflect.  The only way to become more aware of the emotions around you – and of your own emotions – is to rehearse conversations, execute on what you’ve practiced, and then learn from your own performance.  Rehearsing with others can also be beneficial, though be aware that your practice partners must be skilled in their own emotional intelligence and in role-playing those with whom you will converse; otherwise, your practice will reinforce incorrect behaviors.  When you rehearse, pay close attention to how your mood might change as the conversation progresses, and then when you reflect, objectively judge yourself on how well you were able to implement your rehearsed strategies. 

Raise emotional awareness in all situations.  Emotional intelligence isn’t limited to the workplace.  Reflect on your interactions with family members, friends, neighbors, and new acquaintances.  Put yourself into situations where you must interact with different kinds of people in different ways.  Do what it takes to increase your opportunities for testing your emotional intelligence, and those skills will come with you into the workplace.

Increase your emotional vocabulary.  People aren’t just happy, sad, mad, and glad.  An event, situation, or attitude underlies these emotions – a frustration, a concern, a fear, an insecurity, or an appreciation.  All of these root causes suggest interaction styles that better acknowledge someone’s true feelings and motivations.  The more accurately you can characterize the cause of an emotional reaction, the more prepared you will be to deal with it, whether it’s your own or someone else’s.