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The other kind of intelligence

Whether at work, home, in a relationship or with friends, the ability to communicate ideas and feelings effectively is invaluable. And, while we can’t necessarily change our IQs, we do have the capacity to enhance emotional intelligence. The term is a catch-all for self-awareness, emotion management, self motivation, self confidence, understanding for others and relations with others.

Here, Minx Boren, a master certified coach who has been coaching for the past 16 years in areas including appreciative inquiry, emotional intelligence, the art of convening and authentic happiness, shares five ways to improve emotional intelligence.

1. Recognize that emotions are an important and primary source of information.

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Apply it: If you’re in a meeting and there’s tension or resistance in the room, pay attention to what’s being said, or not being said – frustration, anger, fear – in order to address hesitancy.

2. Understand that you are not your emotions, but the awareness and consciousness behind them.

Apply it: After a coffee spill or long wait in traffic, you might show up angry or reluctant, even though your true self is enthusiastic or kind. Notice that this “you” is not the “you” that you want to project by practicing awareness.

3. Check In. Ask: “How am I feeling right now?”

Apply it: If someone presents a plan that’s intriguing, but a bit overwhelming, you may exhibit caution and concern. Notice where the fear is coming from (history, bad experiences, exhaustion just considering the suggestion’s complexity). Rather than putting an immediate damper on someone’s idea, choose to show some curiosity or enthusiasm and see where that leads.

4. Take a moment before reacting to a “trigger.”

Apply it: If someone says something negative or inappropriate about you, pause, take a deep breath and stop the massive flow of adrenaline into your system, which is preparing you for fight or flight. Once you have calmed down, you can look at the bigger picture and choose the most effective response that considers the larger impact you hope to have on the situation.

5. LISTEN to yourself and others while ignoring the negative pre-judgments of your “inner chattering mind.”

Apply it: Turn down or tune out internal negative judgments (he is/I am too fat, stupid, clumsy, lazy, etc.), in order to look for something more positive, engaging and connective to focus on. All too often, we walk into a room and begin to fault-find with a whole bunch of strangers.