Emotional Intelligence For Dummies
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Emotional intelligence involves understanding your emotions and the emotions of the people around you. Emotional awareness can help you in many different situations — at home, school, and work.

In this Cheat Sheet you’ll find a definition of emotional intelligence and the key traits of an emotionally intelligent person, as well as helpful strategies for using emotional intelligence to calm down when you’re upset, interpret other people’s body language, and even deal with people you don’t like in the workplace.

What it means to be an emotionally intelligent person

Emotional intelligence has to do with a person’s ability to recognize, understand, and manage his or her own emotions and the emotions of others. Emotions can help us solve problems and guide our relationships, both at home and at work.

Some people with high emotional intelligence, or EQ, harness the wisdom of emotions better than others. Emotionally intelligent people are easy to spot because they tend to:

  • Successfully manage difficult situations

  • Express themselves clearly

  • Gain respect from others

  • Influence other people

  • Entice other people to help them out

  • Keep cool under pressure

  • Recognize their emotional reactions to people or situations

  • Know how to say the “right” thing to get the right result

  • Manage themselves effectively when negotiating

  • Manage other people effectively when negotiating

  • Motivate themselves to get things done

  • Know how to be positive, even during difficult situations

Even if your EQ is low, you always have the potential to improve. So don’t fret — with practice, you can build on your existing skills to become more emotionally intelligent.

Managing anger with emotional intelligence

Hot emotions, such as anger and jealousy, tend to get you into trouble and can be difficult to manage and control. You can use emotional intelligence to turn hot emotions into cool emotions and calm yourself down. Here are some good distraction and coping techniques:

  • Distraction: For example,

    • Count to ten.

    • Think of something incompatible with the situation, such as a warm, sunny beach.

    • Use humor or think of a funny situation.

    • Focus on your breathing, starting with air entering your body, down to your diaphragm, then out.

  • Coping: For example,

    • Consider the situation from someone else’s perspective.

    • Take a more realistic look at your situation.

    • Look at the situation as though it happened a long time ago, which removes some of the shock and intensity that occurs soon after the event.

    • Focus on the situation, not the emotion.

    • Try to see the situation realistically, not as unrealistically and impossibly bad.

    • Be optimistic.

Reading body language with emotional intelligence

Studies show that your body language communicates up to 50 percent of what you want to say. Paying attention to a person’s body language can help you begin to understand what they might really be feeling. Here are some important body language signs to watch for:

  • Anger: Hands on hips posture or arms folded, pounding heart, sweating and rapid breathing, fists clenched, eyes staring

  • Happy: Relaxed body, smiling, open arms and legs, relaxed and prolonged eye contact

  • Anxious: Restlessness, pounding heart, rapid breathing

  • Interest: Leaning forward

  • Fury: Cold focused stare, loud and rapid speech

  • Sadness: Drooping body, downcast eyes, mouth turned down

  • Surprise: Eyebrows up, wide eyes, mouth open, movement backward

  • Embarrassment: Red or flushed face, looking away from others, avoiding direct eye contact, false smile or grimace

Managing your emotions in the workplace

At work, emotional intelligence can help you deal effectively with difficult people and situations. If you’re in the unfortunate position of working with people you don’t like, you can follow these tips to get the most out of the time spent with your co-workers:

  • Know your work style. Determine whether certain people bother you or whether you generally just prefer to work alone.

  • Know your feelings. Decide whether you prefer to work with some people (either employees or certain types of customers) and not others. Structure your time to get more control over when you have to work with people you have negative feelings about.

  • Pick a time of day. See whether you’re more open to dealing with others at a particular time of day.

  • Choose a place. Decide whether you’re more comfortable working with others in a particular place (for example, standing at their desk so that you can decide when to leave).

  • Plan ahead. Plan your interactions (set goals for the interactions) in advance so that you can structure them and control the time.

  • Keep it short. Set the amount of time for your interactions in advance and try to stick to it.

  • Be professional. Be pleasant, even you if you don’t like the person you have to deal with.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Steven J. Stein, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and CEO of Multi-Health Systems (MHS), a leading international test publishing company. A leading expert on psychological assessment and emotional intelligence, he has consulted to military and government agencies, including the U.S. Air Force, Army, and Navy; special units of the Pentagon; and the FBI Academy; as well as corporate organizations, including American Express, Canyon Ranch, and professional sports teams.

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