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Developing Your Emotional Intelligence

Top Ten Suggestions

1. Become emotionally literate. Label your feelings, rather than labeling people or situations. Use three word sentences beginning with "I feel".

Start labeling feelings; stop labeling people & situations

"I feel impatient." vs "This is ridiculous." I feel hurt and bitter". vs. "You are an insensitive jerk."

"I feel afraid." vs. "You are driving like an idiot."

2. Distinguish between thoughts and feelings. Thoughts: I feel like...& I feel as if.... & I feel that

Feelings: I feel: (feeling word)

3. Take more responsibility for your feelings. "I feel jealous." vs. "You are making me jealous."

Analyze your own feelings rather than the action or motives of other people. Let your feelings help you identify your unmet emotional needs.

4. Use your feelings to help make decisions "How will I feel if I do this?" "How will I feel if I don't?"

"How do I feel?" "What would help me feel better?"

Ask others "How do you feel?" and "What would help you feel better?"

5. Use feelings to set and achieve goals - Set feeling goals. Think about how you want to feel or how you want others to feel. (your employees, your clients, your students, your children, your partner)

- Get feedback and track progress towards the feeling goals by periodically measuring feelings from 0-10. For example, ask clients, students, teenagers how much they feel respected from 0 to 10.

6. Feel energized, not angry. Use what others call "anger" to help feel energized to take productive action.
7. Validate other people's feelings. Show empathy, understanding, and acceptance of other people's feelings.
8. Use feelings to help show respect for others. How will you feel if I do this? How will you feel if I don't? Then listen and take their feelings into consideration.
9. Don't advise, command, control, criticize, judge or lecture to others. Instead, try to just listen with empathy and non-judgment.
10. Avoid people who invalidate you. While this is not always possible, at least try to spend less time with them, or try not to let them have psychological power over you.

Other EQI Topics

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More Tips

- Ask others how they feel -- on scale of 0-10

- Make time to reflect on your feelings

- Identify your fears and desires

- Identify your UEN's (Unmet Emotional Needs)

- Express your feelings - find out who listens, understands, validates you and cares.

- Develop the courage and self-confidence to follow your own feelings

- Work on managing your negative feelings

- See the list of feeling words to practice improving your emotional literacy


- Your "negative" feelings are expressions of your unmet emotional needs (UEN's)

- Each negative feeling has a positive value

- Awareness of your feelings increases self-knowledge. Self-knowledge aids self-improvement.

- Actions and behavior are motivated by feelings. We can often choose how we respond to an emotion. Remembering this helps us feel in control, which is empowering. Taking responsibility for meeting our own needs is also empowering.

Managing Your Negative Feelings

Ask: why something bothers you.

Look at the relationship between your unmet emotional needs, your childhood, and your beliefs.

Consider the possibility that some of your beliefs might be dysfunctional and remember that beliefs can be changed.

Remember that accepting responsibility helps release resentment.

Re-frame the situation as an opportunity for personal growth.

Change some of your demands and expectations into preferences to make them less emotionally powerful and addictive.