Are You Smart About Your Feelings?
By Tara Rummell Berson
Five ways to boost your emotional intelligence.
Who hasn't picked a fight with her guy for some random reason? Or unintentionally embarrassed or humiliated a good friend? Everyone's emotions go haywire from time to time, and lead us to behave in undesirable ways. But you can actually train your brain to keep your emotions from getting the best of you. Read on for tips on raising your emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) — the measure of your ability to identify, assess, and manage your own emotions as well as others' — so you can better understand and care for yourself and enjoy happier, healthier relationships.
"See" your feelings in full color.
Take a moment each day to imagine that you're a blank wall waiting to be painted, suggests Joshua Freedman, of Six Seconds (6seconds.org), an emotional-intelligence Website. "Let your imagination run wild as you assign colors to your feelings and paint your wall," he says. Orange could signify frustration, for example: You might find that streaks of orange appear on your canvas when you interact with a certain coworker, indicating that it's your relationship with that person — not your job itself — that's causing you workday angst. "Monitoring your mural will help you sense your emotions more clearly," says Freedman. And once you know your patterns, you can brainstorm and implement solutions for dealing with people and situations in a healthy, positive way.
Cultivate your curiosity.
We frequently ask questions out of habit without really caring about the answer (for example, asking someone, "How's it going?" as you speed by her in the hallway). "Try honing your empathic skills by asking a question you want to know the answer to," Freedman suggests. It could be as simple as, "How is it going with that new babysitter?" When you ask, look the other person in the eyes and wait for her answer. She'll see that you're truly interested, so she'll answer thoughtfully — and likely ask how you're doing. Creating these moments for emotional understanding has its perks, Freedman adds: Your blood pressure drops when you're fully attentive to what someone else is saying — plus, you'll develop more satisfying relationships.