16 Simple Ways to Grow Your Emotional Intelligence

Grow EQ

In recent years there’s been a lot of buzz around Emotional Intelligence. While ideas like Emotional Intelligence come into style and go, there is no denying that your emotions play a prevailing role in all that you do. You can ignore, avoid, and distort, yet your emotions are still at work and having an effect on all aspects of your life whether you are tuned into them or not.

Just because you have a high IQ doesn’t necessarily mean that you have high EQ (Emotional Intelligence). Why does that matter? Those with high Emotional Intelligence are significantly more likely to outperform those with low Emotional Intelligence even if they have a high IQ. Leaders with high EQ have greater engagement and trust with their teams resulting in a superior performing team.

So what exactly is Emotional Intelligence? It’s the ability to connect to your own emotions, accept them, and be conscious of how your feelings impact your decisions and actions. It’s also about being able to observe how others are feeling and put yourself in their shoes. When you understand your emotions, then you can manage them in a way that allows you to relieve stress, communicate effectively, defuse conflict, understand and empathize with others, and overcome challenges.

The term Emotional Intelligence has been around since 1990s when Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer coined the phrase. Daniel Goleman, a science writer for the New York Times specializing in brain and behavior research, argued in his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, that it was not cognitive intelligence or natural intelligence (IQ) that determined success in life, but rather Emotional Intelligence (EQ). That book sold 5 million copies in the first five years!

Emotional Intelligence in leadership is comprised of…

1. Self-Awareness

Being able to recognize your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values, motivation, and the impact you have on others.

2. Self-Management

Also known as discipline! It is the ability to control and adapt; remaining calm under fire and keeping your team going in a positive direction. Calm is neutralizing and contagious. Panic is also contagious and exacerbates situtions!

3. Empathy

Is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and anticipate how they may respond with compassion. The more you are able to relate to others, the more you are able to understand.

4. Relationships Management

Nurturing healthy relationships is critical as a leader and has an enormous effect on the culture of your organization or team.

5. Effective Communication

According to Albert Mehrabian , words make up a mere 7% of communication! The other 93% is your tone (38%) and body language (55%). You might disagree with those percentages, but you can’t argue that tone and body language play a sizable role in communication. Most relationship challenges are rooted in ineffective communication that unfortunately leads to frustration, bitterness, and confusion.

What’s the big deal – why does EQ matter?

It dramatically affects your organizations productivity, performance, the physical health of your people, the relationships, and culture. Want to improve your bottom line – up your EQ and the EQ of your people.

You might be wondering how savvy you are when it comes to Emotional Intelligence. Here are some signs that you might be lacking EQ:

  • Relational Issues
  • Argumentative
  • Poor listener
  • Blaming
  • Lack of empathy
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Unaware of your emotional triggers
  • Easily offended
  • Can’t cope with the emotions of others
  • Masking emotions – authenticity is a challenge
  • Easily stressed
  • Difficulty asserting yourself
  • A limited emotional vocabulary
  • Quick to make assumptions and defend them vigorously
  • Holding grudges
  • Hanging onto mistakes

Increase Your EQ!

It never hurts to increase your Emotional Intelligence so here are some simple ways to do that:

1. Names – Use Them!

As someone with a challenging and unusual name, it means the world to me when someone actually remembers it! Names are a part of a person’s identity. Addressing someone by name when speaking to them is something they will notice.

2. Ask Good Questions

The best way to determine how others feel is to ask them! And the best questions are open-ended questions – questions that can’t be answered with yes or no. There are a few exceptions, but overall steer clear of questions that begin with “why” as they can have a tendency to put people on the defensive.

3. Listen!!!

There’s nothing worse than being asked a question and then not being listened to when you attempt to respond. Resist the urge to plot what you will say next or interrupt. You’d be surprised what you learn if you take the time to listen.

4. Pause

Yes, breathe and give some thought to how you want to respond. Don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions, judge, or make assumptions.

5. Take Your Thoughts Captive

Take control of your thoughts. Choose what you will dwell on. 2 Corinthians 10:5b says, “…we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ.”

6. Go On A “Good” Hunt

Search for the good in others. Challenge yourself to find reasons to like someone rather than to dislike them. Expect the best of others – they are more likely to deliver what you expect.

7. Learn From Others

You don’t have to have all the answers. Learning from others conveys that you are not too proud to glean something new from others. It’s a happy thing when you  feel like you’ve been able to make a positive contribution, not to mention it’s bonding!

8. Smile!

A simple smile conveys so much! And smiles are contagious. Remember, people will mirror you, so smile!

9. Initiate

Be the first to take a risk and reveal something about yourself. You don’t have to reveal your deepest secrets, but try venturing out past the superficial. Chances are they will reciprocate and it will strengthen the relationship.

10. Go Platinum

Not the golden rule, but the platinum rule: Treat people the way they want to be treated. It shows that you’ve been listening, and creates a more comfortable environment for them.

11. STOP!

Quit trying to one up others. Instead celebrate their successes – they don’t take anything away from you and by acknowledging their wins, others will most likely feel better about you!

Refrain from sarcasm, nonconstructive criticism, joking, and judging – they don’t help you connect!

12. Check-In

Take the time to reflect and consider… What am I feeling? When have I felt this way before?

Journaling is an excellent way to explore your feelings. Notice how your feelings influence your thoughts and beliefs.

Still unable to connect to your feelings? Ask someone you trust to share what emotions they’ve observed in you.

13. Listen To Your Body!

Your body never lies when it comes to your emotions. That knot in your stomach, flutters in your heart, stiff neck, and sweaty palms are attempting to communicate something vital to you.

14. Apologize

Be willing to admit when you’re wrong. Apologize for hurting others. Forgive and forget! Un-forgiveness frequently results in health issues – you don’t want that!

15. Practice Empathy

Take the time to understand what others are facing and extend compassion. To be heard and understood is a natural desire!

16. Beware!

Your motivation for becoming Emotionally Intelligent matters. The goal is to genuinely connect. Using EQ to manipulate or attempt to control others, will backfire!

Most people want to enjoy more meaningful relationships and excel in the work they do. Increasing your EQ is the secret sauce to successfully doing both!

I’m always curious – what are your thoughts on Emotional Intelligence? How has it benefited you?

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.


  1. Dustin Renz on April 17, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Great post Marvae! I have had to learn some of these lessons the hard way over the years. I tend to be an emotional processor, and not understanding or tending to them has caused me many problems in the past. However, I have seen the Lord really growing me in this area the last couple of years, and was encouraged to see the difference He has made as I read your post.

  2. Marvae Eikanas on April 17, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    Celebrating your growth with you, Dustin! That is encouraging! I know He has big things ahead for you.

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