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How to Level Up Your EQ

Cultivating emotional intelligence has become recognized and prized across the business landscape. Your emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) is your aptitude for perceiving, processing, and managing the emotions of yourself and others. Emotional intelligence is a quality that can be enhanced through awareness and practice.

Your command of emotion is present throughout your personal and professional life, from building good relationships with in-laws to communicating budget cuts in the most tactful, productive manner possible. While some people might not prioritize improving their emotional intelligence, the benefits to those who do are ample and profound. Here’s how to level up your EQ. 

Recognizing your feelings 

The most important step to cultivating emotional intelligence is understanding the spectrum of emotions in your own life. When you are frustrated, can you recognize the feeling of frustration before you take action? In Daniel Goleman’s “What Makes a Leader,” awareness and regulation of emotion among managers of Fortune 200 companies is linked to the strongest measurable business achievements.

One exercise to develop a thoughtfully nuanced understanding of your emotions is to track any perceptible changes in mood in a journal. Make note of the situation, your feelings, and the response to gauge whether that same situation triggers a similar response. Through prediction and observation, you’ll be able to pin down whether you feel reluctant because of a bad night’s sleep or because meetings give you anxiety. 

Keeping your composure 

It’s 4:45 p.m. on Friday afternoon, and your manager tells you to re-do this week’s work before Monday because the data the client provided was incorrect. Your heart rate spikes as you think about having to cancel your plans with friends and the potential exhaustion of 12 consecutive days of work. 

Instinctive reactions could be to lash out at your manager, or to reluctantly follow through until the updated project is complete, feeling slighted along the way. A more effective response is to recognize the stressor as unlucky and embrace the opportunity to display your emotional maturity. You could ask your manager how she is handling this news and extend an olive branch to bring a coffee to her desk and work beside her this evening.

Taking a beat to remind yourself what you can control, making an action plan, and reaching out to loved ones for support will allow you to make the best decisions in stressful times. Poker, as in life, involves unexpected runs of positive and negative variance; experienced poker players recognize things are never as good or as bad as they seem.

Unearthing motivators

Recent research illustrates that school counselors demonstrate strong leadership skills due to the empathetic development present in their professional training. Empathy is emblematic of high emotional intelligence because it involves connecting your personal experience with the experiences of others. 

Empathy can be cultivated in a variety of ways. You can develop an interest in the well-being of strangers, reveal personal vulnerabilities to connect with loved ones, or find common ground among enemies. The important components to building empathy are to treat others the way you would like to be treated, think purposefully about how you would feel in another’s position, and gain experience by talking to people from all walks of life.

If you can tell that a direct report lives to help others overcome adversity from listening to his stories, you could allocate funds to be given to a charity chosen by the employee of the month. If a co-worker is struggling to make friends at the office, you can find an activity they excel at and invite some of your office pals to join the two of you there. These actions show you care and motivate the people you work with to do their best. 

Influencing through empathy

Seeing the world through other perspectives is the key to influencing without authority. In the early stages of your career, you’ll need to learn what piques a manager’s attention to drive institutional change. To shift your company’s policy to review resumes anonymously so that subconscious racial biases don’t affect their interview invitations, you’ll have to make an intellectual and emotional appeal to the decision-maker.

Poker players think through their opponent’s actions to piece together what hand an opponent might have and what their opponent is trying to accomplish. In certain instances, the cards you hold are irrelevant if you are sure that a bet will cause your opponent to fold their hand. Through playing poker, you can learn the behaviors and microexpressions that thousands of people exhibit when they are confident, nervous, bluffing, or truthful. This iterative process of trial and error is one of the most fun and effective means to level up your emotional intelligence quotient. 

The poker table is a melting pot of people with different careers, political perspectives, and skills: the perfect training ground to get to know yourself and others. If you’re interested in learning how to play poker with other thoughtful and ambitious women, enroll in Poker Power’s community poker lessons. To learn poker strategy on your own time, check out our new free online poker lessons. Take a seat at the table, and let the power of poker level up your EQ.

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