THE BLOG
08/31/2015 05:21 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Part I of 2: Boost Your Emotional Intelligence: Take The Five Day EQ Challenge

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"Empathy occurs in the moment one human being speaks with another."
- Alfred Adler, Understanding Human Nature

We know that Emotional Intelligence can be learned, but like everything there's no quick fix. It takes time, commitment and dedication. So, how do we do it? Check out what makes up Emotional Intelligence and take the "Five Day EQ Challenge," practicing one of the five "EQ exercises" each day. It will boost your EQ to the next level, regardless of what your base line is today.

Without emotions, who are we?
Almost a decade ago, Dr. Daniel Goleman published his best selling book, Emotional Intelligence. He defined Emotional Intelligence as "the ability to recognize one's own and other people's emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking behavior." [1] Goleman was the brainchild behind the idea that non-cognitive skills, or emotional intelligence, are as important as a good I.Q. to succeed in the workplace.

How Does Boosting Your EQ Make You a Better Leader?

• Mounting research demonstrates that you need all of your emotions to be your best.

• We can create a safe space for others to know that sharing emotions and expressing is possible.

• As a leader, people who are in control of their feelings and impulses are able to create an environment of trust and fairness.

• With practice, as business leaders we can improve our sense of how to give effective feedback, when to push for better performance and when to hold back by boosting our EQ over time.

What Does Emotional Intelligence Really Mean?

If we look at Goleman's model, there are five main components:

1. Self-awareness of one's own emotions. People with high self-awareness are able to speak accurately and openly about their emotions and their impact.

2. Self-regulation of knowing one's emotions, weaknesses, strengths, values and goals and how they impact others. Self-regulation is like an ongoing inner conversation. Signs are easy to see: a propensity for reflection and thoughtfulness; comfort with ambiguity and change; and integrity -- an ability to say no to impulsive urges.

3. Social skill. This competency is about managing relationships or being in rapport with others. It is friendliness with a purpose: moving people in the direction you desire, whether that are agreement on a new marketing strategy or enthusiasm about a new product.

4. Empathy is taking other's feelings into account when making decisions, and is the most easily recognized of the five components. Empathy in leadership matters for at least three reasons: increasing use of teams; the rapid pace of globalization; and the growing need to retain talent. The ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes and understand what they may be feeling is one of the critical elements that define a high EQ leader.

I recently hosted author Roman Krznaric at Google to talk about his latest book, Empathy. Krznaric is opening up the world's first "interactive" Empathy Museum in London this year. It's a sign of the times that empathy is important and crucial to well being and Emotional Intelligence.

5. Motivation - Achieving for the sake of achievement, or a passion for the work itself.

So how can you take your EQ to the next level?

First, Pause & Empower your Own Emotional Intelligence

By making an intentional shift in behavior -- what I call a pause -- you can tune into increasing your own EI capacity. Creating a shift means you're getting out of routine, and doing something different. It also activates the frontal lobe of our brain, which is the part of our brain that engages in critical thinking and creativity.

Here are five ideas, one for each component, I call the Five Day EQ Challenge. For five days, practice one technique a day to help boost your EQ. These ideas are based on the curriculum I've learned over the past two years studying Emotional and Social Intelligence at the Wright Foundation.

1. Self-Awareness: Notice and name the five primary emotions in your body. Get familiar with the five primary emotions - joy, fear, anger, sadness, hurt - and how they feel in your body. Pause and take a day, an hour, or even longer to set a timer and name an emotion once an hour that you feel in your body. If you can't feel anything, pause and pick an emotion you feel closest too. If you feel different emotions, name them each of them.
o Why it matters: You are flexing your mental muscles by naming emotions as you experience them in your body. Over time these will become more familiar and easier to spot. Naming emotions out loud (or on paper) helps activate areas of the brain that stimulate thinking about these emotions, vs. just reacting to them.

2. Self-regulation: What emotion(s) comes easily? Which ones are absent or hard to feel? Each of us has some emotions that come easier than others, and everyone is different. For any emotions that you have trouble experiencing, try to spot these in other people or situations around you.
o Why it matters: You are noticing what is easiest for you to express, and where you can express more, or where you can self-soothe if need be. Imagine a continuum with pain on one side and pleasure on the other side.

3. Social Skill: Use your influencing skills with purpose. Help others understand the thinking behind your words by sharing openly and honestly with others.
o Why it matters: By being vulnerable and sharing honestly with others, you build trust and rapport with others.

4. Empathy: Put yourself in someone else's shoes as they share a story, an experience or feedback with you. Get inside the head of someone you are speaking with. Ask yourself, "If I were the one speaking, what would I want to hear right now?" Or, "How would I want someone to react if I shared this right now?" As Alfred Adler a thought leader in developmental psychology once said, "Empathy starts the moment you start a conversation." Stay present, make eye contact, and give your audience your full attention.
o Why it matters: The speaker will feel seen and understood by you, which leads to a deeper mutual understanding of each other. As a listener you can deepen your connection with someone through making eye contact and being fully present with someone.

5. Motivation: Think about something you are passionate about and plan or take the time to do it. Be present while you do it. Give it your undivided attention. It could be your favorite activity, something that makes you feel happy or nourished, or something you do for someone else that makes you feel good.
o Why it matters: If you are passionate about what you do, you will be more engaged and present in your activity and with yourself. You will be more attuned to your emotional state and which of the five primary emotions you feel, which in turn bumps up your own self-awareness and self-regulation.

Ready? Start the 5 Day EQ Challenge starting right now.

• Try one technique a day, and then try a different one the next day for five consecutive days.

• You can go beyond five days. See what sticks and continue to practice it to build your EQ muscles.

• What results did you get?

• What did you learn?

• Leave a comment below or social media with #5daysEQ

Works Cited
[1] Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books, 2006