Want to Raise Your Emotional Intelligence? Avoid These 11 Behaviors
Emotional intelligence plays a pivotal role in every aspect of life. Sometimes it can be helpful to take a good hard look at ourselves and see where we fall short.
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When I first got started in business, I seriously minimized the importance of emotional intelligence. In fact, "minimized" is an understatement. It was barely on my radar.
I learned this the traumatizing way after taking a 360 review at one of my former companies. I thought I'd receive nothing but glowing reports; instead, the great majority of my employees opined that I was as sensitive as a wood chipper.
This called for some major changes. It was an arduous journey, and I'm definitely still rough around the edges, but I'm proud to say I've improved. For anyone out there who suspects they might be a former me, pay heed to these 11 warning signs:
1. You don't listen.
Not listening takes many forms. Maybe you ignore a phone call from your mom when you know she needs to talk. Maybe you take the call, but dominate the conversation with your wonderful advice. Both moves are bad.
2. You forget people's names.
There are few things more dispiriting than to have met someone multiple times and hear them call you by the wrong name. No one is perfect in this regard, but we can all do better.
3. You're tantrum-prone.
When a child throws a tantrum, they get physical. They thrash around on the floor, they throw a toy, etc. As a general rule, adult tantrums are less visually theatrical, but every bit as childish. For example, try not to emotionally annihilate whoever forgot to fill the coffee pot.
4. You say things like, "I'M NOT ANGRY."
Yes you are.
5. You get offended.
This one is complicated. There are always instances when taking offense is justified. If it's knee-jerk and habitual, however, it's time for some introspection.
6. You stay offended.
Holding a grudge is a form of spiritual constipation. Google the consequences of chronic physical constipation and you'll get a sense of what its figurative counterpart can do to your soul.
7. You emit audible cries of horror over something embarrassing you did 15 years go.
Believe it or not, this is a form of vanity. Everyone else has forgotten about that time you [fill in the blank, preferably with something hilariously awful]; you should, too.
8. You qualify your apologies.
An apology is a sincere expression of remorse about wrongdoing. It's a crystal-clear glass of refreshing water. Qualification--even a single drop--is sewage. Yum.
9. You tell a better story.
If someone breathlessly informs you that they saw a deer on their hike, and you reply that you saw a moose, it kills their joy a little. No one likes a killjoy.
10. You yawn when a coworker informs you that he was once a professional stunt driver who routinely emerged from piles of flaming wreckage.
The point here is not that stunt driving is the most interesting thing in the world. It's that people are. Yes, there are some real bores out there, and yes, they have some really boring stories. But a fundamental curiosity about human beings--what moves them, scares them, separates one from the next--is a fundamental sign of a high emotional IQ.
11. You can't tell a saint from a psycho.
The ability to judiciously appraise another person's character is useful for many reasons, including less risk of being taken advantage of. But it's also an insight into your own character, as discernment regarding the hearts and intentions of others is a good gauge of empathy.
Anyone who's visited WebMD because of a scratchy throat or a strange rash will appreciate both the value and danger of lists like the one above. It's easy to misdiagnosis ourselves with a grave condition because we share a number of symptoms with a milder form of it.
But a misdiagnosis doesn't let us off the hook from doing our damnedest to remedy the symptoms and get healthy again. Qualifying your apologies or forgetting people's names doesn't verify you as an emotional ignoramus; it simply means you have stuff to work on.