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Dial up your EQ and make 2020 your most successful year yet

Nicole Soames

Now we are in a new year and decade, it is natural to reflect on the highs and lows of the past year, I’m always reminded of Maya Angelou’s wise words “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Research shows that people with high levels of emotional intelligence (EQ) – the ability to recognize and manage your emotions and those of others – are more successful at work and in their personal life.  They are the people we enjoy spending time with, who make working together seem easy.  The great news is that you EQ, unlike your IQ, isn’t fixed, there are practical steps you can take to develop it so you can build more meaningful relationships and make 2020 your best year yet.

7 Ways to Dial up your emotional intelligence (EQ):

  1. Hold up a mirror
    Self-knowledge is often described as the cornerstone of EQ.  This is because you will be hard-pressed to recognize and manage other people’s emotions if you don’t take the time to understand your own. So be brave, hold up a mirror and give yourself a full appraisal – the good, the bad and the ugly.
    A powerful way to do this is to think about how you come across on a good day and then compare this to how you communicate on a bad day.  You should then be able to get a good sense of your strengths and areas for development. For example, perhaps you are usually engaging and enthusiastic but can become over-bearing and directive on occasions.
  2. Find out what makes other people tick T
    he next step is to harness your empathy to put yourself in other people’s shoes. Empathy is the emotional glue of relationships – it allows you to see things from other people’s perspectives. It’s only by being curious and asking clever questions that you can identify other people’s specific needs and understand how best to win their hearts and minds.
  3. Actively listen to what people are saying
    Once you asked someone a question, make sure you always actively listen to their response. This may sound obvious, but you’d be amazed how many people use selective listening during a conversation and only tune into those things they want to hear.
    Remember, hearing is involuntary, listening is a skill. Be truly present in the moment and read beyond the words – after all only 7% of what we communicate comes from our spoken word, the rest is communicated by our body language and tone of voice. The more information you can gather from these non-verbal cues, the more insight you will get into the other person.
  4. Make a genuine connection
    In life, people buy people.  Use your understanding of the other person to help you communicate with confidence and find common ground.  You need to use your judgement to flex your communication style according to the particular situation you are in. However, never pretend to be someone you aren’t as this will undermine your credibility in the long run.
    You need to present the real you so you can make a genuine connection that builds rapport and trust over time. These are the hallmarks of a successful relationship.
  5. Manage your emotions
    The ability to control your feelings is key to boosting your EQ levels. With so many plates to juggle, it can sometimes be tricky to appear cool calm and collected at all times.  However, whenever possible try to keep your feelings in check by drawing on your self-control so that you can respond rather than react to other people.
  6. Be open and honest
    Straightforwardness is a key EQ skill that is often overlooked.  You need to have the courage of your conviction and know when to push back appropriately rather than saying “yes” to everything that is asked of you.  Don’t be afraid to assert yourself – draw on your self-reliance and self-confidence to put across your point of view.
  7. See your glass half full
    As Churchill said, “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Emotionally intelligent people are solution-orientated and think creatively. So, the next time you find an obstacle in your path, draw on your resilience and flip any negatives into positives. By seeing your glass half full, you are more likely to bounce back from setbacks, take the learnings and move forwards.

Developing your EQ doesn’t just happen overnight, according to the 10,000 hour rule it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become world class in any skill. So, as we welcome in the new decade, commit to weaving these EQ skills into your everyday life and make 2020 your most successful year yet. Now, it is over to you.


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Nicole Soames
Nicole Soames is CEO of Diadem Performance, a leading commercial skills training and coaching company, a highly qualified coach and EQ practitioner and best-selling author of The Influence Book, The Negotiation Book, and The Coaching Book, by LID Publishing. Nicole has written a wide range of articles on coaching, negotiation and influencing for publications such as The Telegraph, The Sun, Glamour Magazine, HR Director, CEOWORLD magazine, Campaign Magazine, The Edge Magazine, The Grocer, Forward Ladies and many more. Nicole Soames is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.