How can you develop your emotional intelligence?

We all experience times of uncertainty in different ways, and that can affect how we interact with each other. Good emotional intelligence, however, allows you to recognise the signs that other people might be struggling. It can also help you start those hard conversations to ultimately support people going through difficult circumstances.

The good news is that there are ways you can increase your emotional intelligence. By becoming a more empathetic person, you can better care for your own wellbeing while supporting the people you care about most.

What is emotional intelligence and why is it important?

Unlike logical intelligence, emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your own emotions, and be empathic towards others, communicate well and even overcome challenges and conflicts. Not only this, but it can also play a key role in your own mental health, as good emotional intelligence means you will be able to balance your emotions and understand both sides of a problem.

This can be very effective in your day-to-day life, from minor hiccups at work to stresses at home. It can also help you cope better with serious issues, such as personal trauma, anxiety and relationship breakdowns. Consider this in the context of The Real Cost of Separation report, where most respondents who have been through divorce or separation where not emotionally prepared for it.

What are the benefits of being a more empathetic person?

Empathy is being able to truly hear someone’s concerns and accept their feelings without judgement. Unlike sympathy, which is similar to feeling pity for an individual’s circumstances, empathy is understanding what they are going through, which can bring people closer together.

In addition to relationship building, having empathy allows you to communicate better and pick up on non-verbal cues. Sometimes that communication can simply mean listening more – through techniques such as active listening. This lets other people speak their mind without interruption, and allows you the opportunity to see the whole story, and therefore gain a better perspective on their situation.

Empathic people have also been found to enjoy health benefits. This is because empathy helps you build stronger bonds with people, which can improve your coping mechanisms for stress.

How can you increase your emotional intelligence on a daily basis?

There have been many studies into whether you can improve your emotional intelligence through consistent training and activities. The good news is that you can. Here are some ways to get started and certain scenarios where it may be appropriate to be more emotionally considerate.

  • Be honest with yourself: Before you can be more empathic towards others, you first need to look inward. Be honest about yourself – your capabilities, your flaws, what you need to work on and how you’ve handled emotionally challenging situations in the past. Also, acknowledge your privileges compared to other people, as this insight can help you gain greater perspective on the difficulties that other people face.
  • Take a stand: Don’t be afraid to stand up for others. This doesn’t necessarily have to be confrontational – supporting someone and reassuring them that they are a valuable and determined human being is one way to stand up for them. And don’t forget about compassion. It’s something that’s so easy to give but delivers so much emotional impact to another person.
  • Tough talk: Embrace the hard conversations, and always be open when communicating. This no-nonsense approach and ability to bare your soul can help you forge stronger relationship bonds.
  • No judgement: Last, but certainly not least, keep an open mind and don’t judge others when you haven’t walked a mile in their shoes.

Using empathy to start those tough conversations

So, you’re on the path to improving your emotional intelligence but there’s a road block ahead: you’re not sure how to begin those hard conversations. Maybe your best friend is going through a divorce, or a close family member recently lost their job and is in dire financial straits. Here are some tips:

  • Job loss: We tend to tie our self-worth to our careers, which means sudden or unexpected job loss often leaves a heavy mark. Don’t start the conversation asking why they lost their job. Instead, reinforce that they are a capable individual who will get through this. An empathic response can be that sometimes life isn’t fair, and it’s no one’s fault. In some cases, the person may feel comforted hearing stories of others who have lost their job in a similar way.
  • Relationship breakdown: Even if it’s your best friend or sibling, you can never know the full extent of someone else’s relationship. So, rather than trying to ‘fix’ the problem or offering your own advice, just listen. Also, don’t fall into the trap of speaking negatively about their ex-partner. Be a shoulder for them to unload their grief, and keep them in your life by inviting them out regularly and staying in close contact – that way, they will know you are always here for them.
  • Loss of a loved one: There’s a reason why conversations at funerals are sometimes awkward – we just don’t know what to say. The number-one rule when talking to a close friend or family member about a recent death is that it’s not about you. Let them be honest and raw with their emotions, and say supporting things like “I know how much you loved them” and “I can’t imagine what you are going through, but know that I’m here for whatever you need”.

Empathy as a life goal

Navigating the choppy waters of emotional relationships can be challenging at first – particularly during uncertain times – but being more empathetic is a goal we should all strive towards.

While you’re practising good emotional intelligence habits, it also pays to reflect on these uncertain times and how you may wish to consider a level of insurance to suit your circumstances. We all know that life can have its ups and down. Life insurance can help to give you peace of mind.