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6 ways to boost your emotional intelligence

Practice these habits to help build better relationships and manage stress

Have you ever noticed how some people just shine at picking up on other people’s emotions — and understanding their own?

You might say they’re gifted emotionally. That helps them navigate tough situations — and bond with others. 

What’s their secret? People with high emotional intelligence (EQ) share key habits — and you can learn from their example.

Nurturing your EQ

These seven practices may help put you on a path to less stress and richer relationships. If they don’t come naturally at first, that’s OK. It’s not about being perfect in every situation — it’s about improving over time.

  1. Tune in to your feelings. Some of us race through our days without really noticing our emotions. Being more self-aware can help you better understand how your feelings affect your thoughts and behavior. People with high EQ also tend to understand their general strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Rein in your reactions. We all get angry or anxious sometimes. But it’s important to express feelings in a constructive way. If a strong emotion sweeps over you, take a breather. Step back — and ask yourself, Is it OK to let this go? What can I do to change the situation for the better?
  3. Really listen. When speaking with someone, do your best to stay in the present — rather than letting your mind drift. Also try not to interrupt — or be distracted by what you’re planning to say next. Give people a chance to express their opinions and needs.
  4. Empathize more — judge less. See if you can figure out the “why” in people’s behavior. Maybe a friend snapped at you because she’s under stress and needs your sympathetic ear. It’s not because she doesn’t care about you. When you put yourself in another’s shoes, you’ll be less likely to make harsh assumptions — and more likely to build bridges.
  5. Rethink your approach to conflict. Try to think of it as an opportunity to work out differences and build trust. Focus on understanding where others are coming from — and let go of being right. Even if you can’t agree, you can be respectful.
  6. Have a can-do mindset. People with strong EQ are often self-motivated. They harness their emotions to achieve goals and make positive changes. Sometimes it’s all in how you spin it. So practice replacing defeated thoughts with confident ones. For instance, swap, “I’ll never be able to do this” with “This is my chance to see what I can do.”
  7. See the silly side. Humor has it all: It helps relieve stress, defuse conflict and bring people together. And laughing at yourself helps you keep situations in perspective. So seek out people and things that make you smile.

What to do next

Organize your way to less stress. Join us for an online seminar, “Aha! Simple secrets of organized people,” on Tuesday, April 11, 12:30 p.m. ET, 11:30 a.m. CT.

Register now

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