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Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is highly sought after as it provides the ability to interpret the emotions of others, to navigate them and to control our own emotions as well. Ultimately, a high EQ will help you to become more persuasive, more popular and more confident in social settings, all of which are things most of us want to improve.

But how do you increase EQ? There are a few methods, but first, we are going to examine the most straightforward: mindfulness.

What is Mindfulness?
For the uninitiated, mindfulness is a form of meditation that is taught as part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is currently one of the most popular psychotherapeutic approaches for treating a range of mental health disorders such as anxiety, phobias and depression.

The general idea behind CBT is that our emotions and behaviours are controlled by our thoughts. If you are experiencing anxiety, for instance, then there is a good chance that this is created by ruminations and thoughts that cause you to become anxious. For example, a phobia of heights might be caused by thoughts like, “I’m going to fall.”

Woman walking on beachTo help you to identify such thought processes, CBT teaches “mindfulness” as a form of self-reflection. This involves sitting or even walking quietly and simply “observing” the contents of your own thoughts as they pass by. Unlike other forms of meditation, you are not trying to “quiet” your thoughts. Instead, you are just noting them and reflecting on them — without any judgment on your part as to whether they are “good,” “bad,” “right” or “wrong.”

The next step is to try and alter those thoughts by challenging those assumptions and using positive affirmations, ultimately resulting in healthier behaviour.

So, what has all this got to do with EQ? Well, basically, emotional intelligence boils down to your ability to observe the thoughts and feelings of others and then act accordingly. At the same time, it also incorporates the ability to manage your own emotions.

And all of this can be helped by listening to your own thoughts. When you’re aware of your own thought processes, not only are you more aware of how your own mind works and how to influence your feelings, but you also have more insight into how the minds of other people work. Learn mindfulness and you will be one step closer to mastering emotional intelligence.

Neuro-linguistic Programming
In addition to practising mindfulness, there are many tools and techniques available that promise to help us better understand and work with others. But which of them can really help to improve your EQ and enhance your “social skills”?

Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) is a framework that was originally devised to be used therapeutically and for self-growth. The central concept behind this is to “model” the techniques of very successful individuals and learn how to talk and think like them.

Wisdom Vision Feeling Power CircleOne example of a useful tool from NLP is called the “Meta Model.” This teaches us to look precisely at language use to find underlying assumptions and generalizations. For instance, someone might say, “It’s not so easy to get everyone to like you.” This contains some interesting omissions. Your question might be, “Not so easy as what?” Or, “Do you want everyone to like you?”

Meanwhile, the Milton Model builds on this and describes the intentional omission of information in your statements. In this case, you load your statements with assumptions and presuppositions, which in turn help you to influence the beliefs of others.

In conclusion, NLP is an interesting subject for study. Some of it must be taken with a pinch of salt, but it certainly does offer value in some regards and is worth reading up on.

This concludes the series on Emotional Intelligence. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Journey Within: How to Increase Emotional Intelligence
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