According to the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, when the concept of emotional quotient (EQ) was first introduced, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with average intelligence quotient (IQ) outperform those with the highest IQ 70% of the time. Years of research has since pointed to EQ as the critical factor for success.

So what exactly is EQ? Can I improve my EQ? In this post, we will be telling you all you need to know about this critical factor that will set you apart.  

Do not make any hasty decision when you are angry or depressed.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to spot and mange emotions in yourself and others. There are 4 parts to emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Of these 4, self-awareness and self-management belong to the category of personal competence and social awareness and relationship management belong to the category of social competence.

People with high EQ can recognise when they are happy, angry, sad or frightened. Through reflecting, they recognise the triggers that cause them to feel a particular way. They then deliberately manage their emotional reactions to situations and people. Additionally, people with high EQs are able to identify what others are feeling and thinking. They then manage conflict in an objective manner to ensure that relationships are not damaged, especially when things become heated.

Comments like the ones below point to a lack of particular aspects of EQ.

“Abby gets excited easily and she tends to interrupt me just to share a piece of her mind. I know she does not mean ill, but it can be annoying” or “Bradley tends to have verbal outbursts. He really should relax and be less emotional” indicate a lack of self-awareness and self-management.

Knowing what tests your patience is critical to developing the self-control needed to keep your cool and maintain your poise

“Coco needs to listen better. It is obvious from her body language that she is thinking about what she wants to say rather than paying attention to what is actually being said” or “Dave tends to belittle other people’s experiences. He should stop saying things like ‘it could be worse’ and ‘you should just get over it’ because he comes across as unsympathetic. He should also stop criticising people. It is very demoralising” indicate a lack of social awareness and poor relationship management skills.

Luckily, unlike IQ, which measures your ability to learn relative to your peers, EQ is not fixed at birth. Even those who are lacking in EQ initially can catch up with their peers, if they work on it. Read on for some tips to manage your emotions and your relationships better.

1. Make a list of who or what pushes your buttons

Do some behaviour, such as indecisiveness, attention seeking actions or a disregard for your opinions, make you frown? Or worse, make you want to slap someone? Knowing what tests your patience is critical to developing the self-control needed to keep your cool and maintain your poise.

2. Wait until the bad mood passes

Do not make any hasty decision when you are angry or depressed. Remind yourself that you are seeing the world through a fiery shade of red or a depressing shade of grey right now. By tomorrow, after a good night’s sleep, you will probably regret the decisions that you made today, so refrain from making any decision today.

3. Breathe deeply and count to ten

The rationale is the same as that of tip 2. If counting to 10 does not work, count to 50. If that still does not work, go to sleep.

4. Force yourself to smile or laugh


Do you know that when you laugh or smile widely, you fool your brain into believing that you are happy? This is one way to counteract the negative emotions bubbling under your skin.

5. Listen and empathise

Listening is not just hearing words, it is identifying the mood of that person and actively processing what the person is thinking and feeling right now. So when someone is speaking, put down the task at hand and give him/her your full attention.

6. Seek feedback

You can only see the whole picture if you look from the inside out and from the outside in. The only way to get the second perspective is by asking people for their honest opinions. Do people think you are bossy when you think you are decisive? Gather feedback from multiple sources to get a truly objective view of yourself. Then mull over the feedback and work on the problematic aspects.

There are many more strategies to make you more emotionally intelligent. These 6 are just the tip of the iceberg. But remember, every journey begins with a single step. Start today.