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Should You Boost Your Emotional Intelligence?

Apart from coaching and of course running (if you don’t know by now, I love to run!) I’m also getting ready to up my game personally and professionally as 2019 approaches soon. As part of that, emotional intelligence, positive psychology, mindfulness and coaching psychology have all been on my mind for the past couple of months. As I explore, read, research and immerse myself in this, I thought it would be a great idea to come out here and as always share some of my learnings and keep circulating the good stuff. So today, I want to write about emotional intelligence and perhaps offer some thoughts and tips on how to incorporate EQ in your life daily.

So what is emotional intelligence? “Emotional intelligence refers to our ability to recognise, make sense of and regulate our thoughts, perceptions and feelings while remaining sensitive to others’ perspectives as well as contextual clues”, says Heather Stevenson, a New York City based clinical psychologist. She says this gives rise to four skills that impact our personal and professional lives: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

So why do we really need to boost our emotional intelligence? You’ve probably met and admired someone with an intellect far superior than most – someone whose ability to crunch numbers, calculate odds or keep volumes of facts in their brain blow your mind, but did this person strike you as a good listener, an inspiring leader, someone who is thoughtful, grounded or sensitive to others’ needs? A strong intellect is always admirable, but it doesn’t always lead to healthy and successful relationships personally or at work. That’s why psychologists who study intelligence have expanded their focus from intellectual aptitude alone to emotional intelligence too.

What’s behind the many positive attributes of having a high EQ? Heather Stevenson says –“You are likely to feel happier and make healthier decisions if you are not always flying off the handle or letting emotions control you. And when you make an effort to stop over-reacting and be present with the people you are with, everyone is likely to feel more satisfied.”

As a life coach, I am naturally tuned and trained to focus a lot more on emotional intelligence. Level 3 listening, reading between the lines, curiosity, powerful questioning, deepening, creating learnings and action is all part of my work and something that comes to me naturally now thanks to my training and experience. But I wasn’t born with a high EQ. It increasingly takes practice. So if you want to build your EQ, here are a few simple tips for getting in touch with your feelings:

Tune In: Pay attention to the physical and emotional sensations you have throughout the day, including pleasant and unpleasant feelings. Writing them down is helpful it will help you get more self-aware.

Take a pause: Practice deep breathing, count down from 10, or go for a brisk walk before saying or doing something in the thick of emotions. Changing your physiology always helps.

Listen with intent: Next time you talk to a friend, listen to both the words and the underlying emotions they are conveying. Try to paraphrase what they tell you.

Practise Mindfulness: Practising mindfulness daily via meditation has served me the most for the work I do. Mindfulness really lies at the core of emotional intelligence. By making a non-judgemental observation of your internal and external reality and then accepting the reality, you are less likely to overreact and be more in control of situations. The more we tune into our own and others’ emotions along with what’s going on around us, the more mindful we are being.

If you are not a person who is into meditation or simply don’t have the time for it, its fine. There are other ways to get mindful. From my own experience, I can offer you some thoughts on how to make your runs or workouts meditative and more mindful. Here’s how you can get into your own flow state while exercising:

  • Scan your surroundings. Check in with your senses – ask yourself – what can I hear, smell, see?

  • Do a full-body scan. Ask yourself if you feel stiff, lose, tight or if there’s any tension in any part of your body.

  • Do a mental scan. Check what your “emotional weather” is like. What are your top thoughts?

  • Choose an anchor while exercising to be present. As a runner, I often use my foot strike or breathing.

Try this the next time you work out. Don’t worry, your mind will wander but the more you practice you will find yourself being present and in flow. My friends, I hope this piece has served you. Remember that being mindful of your emotions and of those around you can help set you up for success at work, with family and make you a happier and healthier person.

I'm Poornima Nair, Certified Life Coach, NLP Practitioner, Founder of Live Authentic Coaching and a mentor with The Cherie Blair Foundation. If you are curious about coaching, interested in being nurtured, inspired and pushed to your edge, to discover and create the relationships, career, lifestyle, finances you are longing for, please reach out to me for a taster of what great coaching does to foster the clarity, mindset, qualities and skills that will allow you to breakthrough.

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