Four key skills to improve your emotional intelligence

Q: I keep hearing about emotional intelligence. It seems to be a key skill managers seek in their employees. I have a general idea of what it is. But, how do I bring this out of me and even improve on it? (BC, email ).

A: It is a skill definitely on demand. It’s about quickly taking advantage of its close relative the intelligent quotient (IQ ), known to measure a person’s reasoning ability, writes Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

A survey from the World Economic Forum found that emotional intelligence is currently one of the ten skills most in demand by employers. They predicted this will remain among the most sought-after skills through at least 2022.

Daniel Goleman, American psychologist, defines emotional intelligence as “the ability to identify, assess and control one’s own emotions, the emotion of others and that of groups”.

Most experts on the matter agree that there are four main skills you should be looking out when trying to identify and improve your emotional intelligence.

1 - Self-management

The main point here is to be aware of our emotions. Self-management means being able to keep your emotions in check and to adapt to a changing environment. Additional qualities to develop are initiative, motivation and goal setting. Finally, adding an honest approach and a positive mind-set to your day will aid your emotional intelligence.

2 - Self-awareness

Some self-reflection is needed here. You can start with the following questions: do I have the ability to understand your feelings? How do I react and behave in certain challenging situations? What am I good at and where do I need support? When I make decisions, am I aware of the weight my emotions have on them?

It is also important to look at how your body is reacting to your own emotions. Are you having headaches or stomach upsets? Are they happening after an intense emotion? Are you missing the cause and focusing just on the symptoms?

3 - Social awareness

This is the skill that allows you to understand other people’s emotions through empathy. That will build trust and improve connection. It will also have an effect by reducing conflict.

A way to build this is to concentrate on your listening skills. Really listening is not thinking what you will have for dinner tonight or what you are going to say next. So just letting go, listening and observing is the only way. This will help you learn how you react to others’ thoughts and emotions.


You also need to be able to explain yourself in a way that others can understand. You need to be able to pick up on body language from your audience to know they really got what you wanted to communicate

4 - Relationship management

The aim here is to work well with others. It’s the ‘excellent communication skills’ we are always asked for in the job spec. To truly work well in a team we need to build our emotional awareness. This means being open to the emotions of others with understanding and without judgment – easier said than done.

Skills to improve here are negotiation, persuasion, collaboration and leadership. Think about embracing conflict and disagreement in a positive way. Use that to strengthen relationships and become a stronger team.

Slí Nua Careers ( ) offer a full online service. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit


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