If you google Emotional Quotient (EQ), the search engine giant will throw some very sophisticated, ‘padha likha’ definitions at you. Might just end up challenging your IQ as well. Don’t even get into all that. There might be many complicated things in life; understanding and figuring out simple, doable & smart ways to raise your emotional quotient should not be one of those headaches. Simply put, EQ is your ability to handle all the shit life throws at you, without losing your own calm and composure. Emotions are what makes us human (although there are pets in some homes who display more truer emotions these days than the owners). The word ‘Emotion’ stands for ‘Energy in Motion’ :-Hence there lies huge value in staying truthful about your emotions and using your mind and emotions in your favor and not against your own self
As a Motivational Speaker– majority of the emails & Social Media messages that I receive are bleeding with EQ problems. Hence this very important blogpost. My Promise- you implement 50% of it & soon people will begin complementing you for your emotional muscular strength.
I found this beautiful story about handling one’s emotions. I’m sure it will resonate with many:
Two monks were traveling together when they reached a river bank and came across a young lady (the way she was dressed, they assumed she was a lady of the night). She was exhausted and requested them to carry her across the river. One of the monks was not up for it, but the other one gladly obliged and picked her up. They crossed the river and he let her down. She thanked them and they went their separate ways.
The first monk however, was angry and aloof throughout. But the second monk didn’t prod his anger any further. Unable to hold his dam of anger anymore, he finally said, “Our spiritual path prohibits us from coming in close contact with women, let alone her kind. And you carried her to the other side!”
The second monk, calm as a cow, replied, “I left her at the bank. Why are you still carrying her with you?”
This is for all the emotional baggage we keep lugging with us throughout our lives. If maths could quantify emotional baggage, Indigo would make enough money to build another Indigo empire out of the extra money it will make on baggage claims. That’s how much ‘bojha’ (extra weight) most of us are carrying all the time. Most of it is useless because it is neither the consequence of our actions, nor something we can control. But, we worry anyway. Because – what else would we do with all the free time and energy that not worrying would leave us with. 🙂
Anyway, enough with the sarcasm (not really!). This blog post is about those 6 super smart ways to raise your emotional quotient that will help you stop living like a coolie (porter) for the rest of your life. One Life! Important to feel like a Super Hero?
A quick important part before we delve into the mechanics of the post: Unlike IQ, EQ is something you can develop. Emotional intelligence develops over time and with personal and professional experiences of every individual. Now it can develop like a wild weed outgrowth (all over the place) or in an organized manner like a fracture healing due to a doctor’s timely intervention. We all know how painful it can be to re-build broken bones that grow incorrectly. Consider your haywire emotions to be just that.
“And how would I know if my EQ is low?” I am often asked. The litmus test is quite simple. If you find your emotions flaring at least 5 times a day, leaving you mentally all exhausted, know that some internal wiring needs to be looked at. So how to fix this:
1. Threats to the Status Quo:
To be able to rise above a problem, one of the most important skills to be developed is a foresight into ‘what causes the problem’ e.g. Spondylitis is primarily caused by poor postures or stooped shoulders.
Research suggests that identifying and anticipating the stressors, i.e. the kind of people, situations, and patterns etc. that have usually sent an individual on emotional roller coasters before – is a good way of knowing how to deal with them. Knowing what threatens and inhibits our emotional intelligence is the first step to fixing it e.g. I have usually found myself reacting more (to people, situations and even family members) on the first few days when I am back home after a very hectic work travel. After 48 hours, my emotions stabilize better. So, I have understood this now and requested my family to bear with me with more patience. They do. And when they do- i too do.
The persistent problem with 90% of the people low on EQ is that they are reacting to the situations, not responding or proactively handling things.
If you have read or watched the Harry Potter movies (assuming you are not living in some bubble), there is a scene in the third book / movie – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (where Harry blows up his rude aunty accidentally). Now we all have a threshold. Emotional intelligence is not about never losing it but about gradually reducing the time it takes to bounce back. And Harry’s character is usually quite resilient in the face of danger or severe emotional distress upto a threshold. So in this particular scene, before his personal dam breaks – he anticipates what all his aunt usually says that upsets him and he already has a plan in mind to distract himself during that part of the conversation.
It is not just about handling idiotic friends or relatives but every situation where there is a potential stressor. We need to recognize the patterns than usurp us from our throne of calm before we can begin to fix them. My life is all travel (my work is such). Now when i leave home to get into the taxi for the airport, i mentally visualize-plan the stressors ahead and strengthen myself up with ‘What not to do’. It helps big time.
2. Avoiding loose talk
The recent episode of popular talk show “Koffee with Karan” with cricketers Hardik Pandya and K L Rahul has left many a people wondering. Without getting into the right and wrong of it, we can say that loose talk never got anyone far. It might be fun for a moment or two, but the repercussions of that rogue stone cast into a pool could go on for a long time.
Now who is to judge whether Mr. Pandya’s words were disrespectful or not. But it landed him and his fellow teammate into a world of trouble. And the consequences would definitely impact their emotional intelligence too. They would have to face backlash for days, there’s been a drop in their brand value (with brands like Gillette reconsidering Pandya’s contract) which might just take monumental time to recover. All for a few moments of looseness.
Do not we see so many people around us feeling emotional upheavals because of their loose talking or because of their stupid habits of not minding their own business by giving unnecessary advice to others?
My point being – it is absolutely unnecessary. And I would know because I have indulged in it for so long (‘Why I decided to Quit Loose Talking’ ). I used to erroneously believe that it is helping me sharpen my spontaneity. It was actually probably sharpening only 5% but 95% of it went to hurting people, social media fights, and useless conversations – more damage!
Loose talk will hinder EQ because it takes away from our ability to empathize and communicate more effectively. We become too busy making “cool” conversations that we forget all about the grace which comes along with superb emotional intelligence.
My events with Corporate organizations made me learn that leaders who are really inspiring for their teams are people who do not loose talk.
Very importantly, one needs to hugely save one’s emotional & nerve energy to feel good about one’s EQ. One way to do that will be – ‘Why you must not post about Politics on your Social Media‘
3. Handling, not hiding:
One of the biggest reasons why we don’t end up making progress towards EQ is – we don’t acknowledge there is a problem. We, the Swacch Bharat people, mostly likely to sweep all our feelings under the rug.
It is one of the major hindrances to improving emotional quotient. Hiding instead of handling it – only worsens it with time. Most of us are either non-confrontational about our issues with someone or deluded about the actual problem and hence keep arguing about the wrong reasons (e.g. most marriages 🙂 )
Communication (yes people! The C word again), is an important tool up anyone’s arsenal if they are trying to work on their EQ because handling the problem head on means having to talk about it – not with the world at large (I don’t want everyone making YouTube videos about irritating relatives and bosses) but with a few handful of people who really know us and care about us. The world maybe our oyster (at times) but it certainly doesn’t care about all of our feelings.
At the least, one needs to start handling things with their near and dear ones. We may not need to sort out misgivings with everyone but people up-close, we need them. Isolation or monologues are not good for EQ, especially for people suffering with major EQ problems. We really need to start a dialogue, more so with people who are our stressors (refer to the previous point). Else, we will just keep bottling all the negative energy brimming inside while pretending to be okay on the face and lying to everyone around, including ourselves. What’s the point of that!
A few years back, my talking to my wife about how I will feel very happy if she were to express herself more (than staying deeply introvert)- permanently changed our relationship for so better. But pls make sure, you find the right time, right place and the right occasion for such important talks. As else, you’ll end up behaving predictably low on EQ.
4. Shut up and bounce
If you are done imagining Shilpa Shetty on the sunny beaches of Miami, please come to the blog post. 🙂
This point is about recovering from negative emotions quickly instead of moping about it and wasting precious time and energy. There are two primary aspects to it – 1) recovering from overpowering negativity and 2) handling rejection well.
By overpowering negativity, I mean – people becoming judgmental and finicky about everything and everyone. A sure sign of low EQ is that in every negative situation we start believing that it has only happened to bring harm to us. It makes us overly cynical and apprehensive. This loss of trust results in severe damage to emotional intelligence.
Imagine a sales team with an overly cynical team lead who is second guessing every member’s move. It will not only slow down work but also mess with the team’s motivation. No one likes to be micro-managed. If you don’t trust the people enough to delegate, be it work or home – it will always be a war of words and actions. That can’t be good for anyone’s EQ!
So a very important step towards building a strong foundation of emotional intelligence and emotional stability is to give people space, to let them be who they are, to not assume and interfere unless necessary and asked for, to not try and change everyone according to our own whims and desires. Accepting people as they are is a large scale relief work that we do for our own souls. An extremely important task.
One of the best ways to do this is to keep ourselves in the other person’s shoes and try to be empathetic to their situation. Often, doing that will sort out so many potential heartaches and heartbreaks 🙂
The other aspect is ‘handling rejection’. I truly believe that in a world of extra involved parenting and giving certificates to children just for showing up (I abhor participation certificates), we are rearing a generation of molly coddled adults who do not realize the importance of putting up a fight or the fairness of failure. Such kids are the ones who often grow up unable to take NO for an answer – from their love interests, from their bosses, from their life. It is one thing to be fiercely competitive but with fairness, it is another to not be able to handle rejection because of not knowing that rejection is a part of life.
And what is the best way to handle rejections? Have plan A, B, C, D and so on. Having alternate options can act like a calming potion in situations of high distress – knowing that not all is lost, that there are ways out, that we can still make it out – helps keep the head in the game. I got rejected in the interviews by some of the IIMs that have now called me to take sessions for grooming their future alumni and corporate stalwarts. Simple- No point getting rejected emotionally.
Hustle! Hit! Never Quit!
5. Taking control:
We, the homo sapiens, like to be in control. And when that control gets relinquished, we lash out in ways known and unknown. In a situation that is threatening to the emotional stability or puts our emotional intelligence to question – the usual that happens is, there is uncertainty and perceived loss in control of the situation, the person, or the dialogue. Now, we know that we can seldom control other people’s actions or their outcomes. There is no smartness in trying either.
If you ask me, real power is not in trying to control the results. It’s in trying to control our response to the problem. That’s why high EQ people always exhume power. They are unperturbed, they are classy, they are sorted – because they know their area of control, and have turned meek lambs of emotional outbursts into lions of grace and poise.
So how do we take control?
I think the answer lies in creating a balance of control. And we can achieve this balance by controlling other areas and aspects of our lives. For e.g. our own routines and disciplines. More often than not, I have observed that my emotional upheavals come to rest when I am following my to-do list no matter what. It takes a little practice to separate myself from the problem and focus on the task at hand, but it is really worth the effort.
For e.g. a break up is not a good enough reason to give up on your diet and exercise. One day break, maybe. One week – not advisable but okay. But more than that – a strict NO. On the contrary, being dogged about our disciplines in the face of our emotional turmoils is one of the quickest ways to calm the F down.
There is so much character, let me confess, in building the sort of will power that makes us say NO to our raging minds. There are always two wolves in our head – the one that wants the right, the one that wants the easy. Guess which one wins? THE ONE WE FEED MOST. So, starve those sloth like feelings by dumping them with opposite actions of discipline, focus, routine. It works wonder. Trust me.
Don’t get mad. Get matter.
6. Physical and spiritual fitness:
Your EQ issues will decrease by minimum 1/3rd if you commit to daily physical fitness routines. They will by another 50% if you deeply commit to daily meditations. This is my promise. Trust me.
The greatest way to handle our emotions running amok is to regulate the energies in the body. Why do you think we always tell hyperventilating people to calm down and ‘breathe’! It’s because the emotional outbursts are extreme reactions that cloud the EQ part knocks the equilibrium right out of the park. It’s a tremendous amount of energy going in the opposite direction. So, breathing deeply and slowly literally forces the energies to change direction, forcing you to rethink. Taking a walk when angry, sweating it off, these are all the body’s way of controlling the mind at times.
Physical exercise, whether as a routine or as a defence mechanism – is an extremely helpful tool in regulating emotions. Physically fit people have fewer chances of getting emotionally hit because the heart is usually on self-regulation mode.
Another beautiful, tried and tested method is meditation and spiritual fitness. I can vouch for it: nothing builds your will power, your mental resilience, your ability to distinguish between right and easy, and your capacity to calm down or not take an offense at the drop of a hat – like meditation and sitting in silence. I would really like to launch into it more, but I already did that in this detailed blog post about meditation and mindfulness. Do read it when you have time in your hands; it is that kind of a blog post.
Laugh on yourself, more often and louder. I love some self-deprecating humour. It immediately takes away the power from anyone else to get to you. Remember the movie ‘Pitch Perfect’! The girl calls herself ‘Fat Amy’ before anyone else can so that no one can body shame her. May not be the best solution but definitely works!
Raise your emotional quotient and start the process today. It is a very powerful quality, something you can carry like a talisman, a raging beast inside of you – the realization that there is not much that can unthrone you from your high chair of calm and composure. And build it like a strong foundation, not an outward façade. Trust me – a high EQ will take you a long way on the road to social success. And there is nothing more intoxicating than success. Start implementing these 6 hacks slowly and steadily (They are tested, researched and just what you practically need to turn it around). I promise you, things will change for sure and for better.
Be SOLID ! Happy EQing !