Do This 1 Thing to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a very general term these days and encompasses many facets of human social interaction and the determination of a person's overall happiness and wellbeing, but how can we continuously begin to increase it?

Do you want to be successful, content and relatively happy in life? Then EQ is where you've got to start and your one thing is not exactly just taming your road rage issues (although this is a strong area to consider!).

Tell me why you’re upset and I can guarantee 80% of your internal dialogue is emotional, reactive, subjective and based off of WRONG assumptions and paradigms (self sabotaging beliefs) you believe to be true, but your rational self knows they kinda aren't.

Here's the 1 THING: Stop Making Assumptions

We react to situations and people based on assumptions and interpretations from the way our emotional brain sees it rather than what actually is.

For example- you walk into work and see a colleague so you say “good morning!”

Your colleague looks at you and walks right past you without uttering a single word.

Wow... she’s rude! You think as you now feel personally attacked. Then the neurotic voice in your head begins its narrative and it may say a few things like these to you:

  • that girl is so rude.

  • people like that shouldn’t work here

  • I can’t believe how grumpy people are

  • What did I ever do to her?

  • Why doesn’t she like me?

  • ohhhh.... maybe in yesterday’s meeting she took offense to my comment.

  • I mean that wasn’t personal, why's she taking it so personal?

  • I will never speak to her again

And your internal story continues. It holds on tightly to these beliefs and begins catapulting into a long dramatic emotional story. And the next time you see her, you are rude and she notices and therefore she’s intentionally rude back and neither of you know why you don’t like each other.

Here’s the reason: you don’t even realize that when you said “good morning” to her, she looked at you because she thought you said something, but didn’t hear what and since she’s terribly shy and thinks you’re incredibly intimidating and confident, she didn’t know how to ask you what you said. But you didn’t realize any of that.

Author, speaker and researcher- Brene Brown likes to describe this initial interpretation dialogue in your head as your emotional brain creating a "shitty first draft narrative". And with any first draft- we need to always try again.

You basically made an assumption and created your own story about her and how she shows up. But here's the thing- she’s actually a very kind person and feels hurt that you don’t like her and she doesn’t understand why.

Everything you assume is probably like 99% wrong.

These small and big interactions play out between people all day long and sadly continue to get validated by continued behavioral projection towards each other.

If I “feel” someone doesn’t like me, my emotional brain can’t help but react with judgement and defensiveness towards this person and therefore my walls go up and QUEUE THE WALLS! I’m entering reactive defense mode. It’s now official! This poor person can’t win with me. Everything they say will be twisted to confirm my paradigm that they do not like me and are out to get me.

When our rational brain gives full control to our emotional brain a.k.a.reptile brain, the sky is falling and we’re blind to anyone trying to convince us otherwise.

Become your own best observer. When you find yourself having an opinion about someone or something pause and ask yourself:

"Do I know this for sure?" Is it absolute fact or am I interpreting verbal/physical queues to determine this?

Start small and begin evaluating your personal opinions on all things that are going through your head. What things do you react to based off of an opinion or interpretation? Pause and reconsider this. Are you 100% certain your assumption is correct?

Seek clarification

Imagine how much better our relationships would be if we were real with each other. If someone was to say something or do something that we disliked and instead of us misinterpreting and creating our own perceptions toward that person, we merely sought clarification. There's nothing more frustrating to me than someone incorrectly perceiving something I did or said and never providing me the opportunity to explain my intention.

Humans all communicate differently and our relationships unfortunately break down when we aren't understanding each other. We're too quick to "assume" which leads to defensiveness and hostility.

When you're "assuming" you're allowing your emotional brain to take you over- causing you to be small minded and less intelligent. Who wants to be that??

Practice no longer making assumptions and watch your Emotional Intelligence rise along with your circle of friends and networks.

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