Dating and Relationship Advice

Emotional intelligence–EQ—is seriously underrated. People usually don't think about it when it comes to themselves or a potential partner, even though it's an incredibly useful quality to develop.

In my own experience, I have found that I gravitate towards people with high EQs—more so than people with high IQs. Both are important, but most people tend to focus on bolstering their IQ.

EQ is what helps you grow as a person. It brings out your most human characteristics and helps you interact and relate to others. It's the force that drives you to empathize with people, take in experiences, and reflect.

I'm on a constant journey to better my EQ. I find myself strategizing how to strengthen it every day. That can take the form of starting meditation rituals in the morning, forming healthy habits, learning to recognize what your goals are and how you can achieve them, or being in tune with other people's emotions. The process is different for everyone.

There are days when I feel my EQ is high and others when I feel I have a lot of work to do. Right now, my journey looks like intense yoga sessions, daily walks, and practicing vulnerability. EQ is about recognizing that people's feelings change all the time, and being able to adapt to these changes.

Here are some ways I have successfully increased my EQ that you can use for yourself:

Don't shy away from conflict

Use conflict as an opportunity to grow as a person and treat it as a source for meaningful conversation. Approach conflict from a curious perspective, rather than a combative one. If a conflict arises in a relationship or partnership, don't look at the other person as the source of the problem. Rather, look at the conflict as the source of the problem and figure out how you can resolve it together. This shift in thinking will help you separate your partner from the conflict and will encourage you to work together rather than against one another.

Don't take yourself or your work so seriously

Recognize that what you are 100% committed to is not necessarily what someone else is 100% committed to. Find ways to work with this, in relationships and in the workplace. This will help you understand what makes you and others around you unique, leading to a respect for your space and someone else's.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness will help you notice tensions and nonverbal cues better, in yourself and in others. I treat mindfulness as one of those catch-all terms that basically means to be in tune with your surroundings. It doesn't necessarily mean meditation (though it can). It just means to be present in the moment and try to notice what you usually don't.

Practice staying silent

Even when you think you have something to say, try stepping back for a second and just listening. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own thoughts or what we're going to say next that we forget to pay attention to what's being said right now. Our thoughts are important (and we shouldn't suppress them), but the thoughts of those around you are just as critical to an open discussion.

Read fiction

Books help you widen your world and engage with thoughts and ideas unfamiliar to you. Fiction immerses you in different worlds and exposes you to a variety of relationships and types of people. A widened world helps you become less judgmental and critical. It opens your mind to the possibility of new experiences, cultures, and identities.

Make time for yourself

Find ways to incorporate things you love into your day. As busy as your day may be, you will enjoy it so much more if it's filled with things you love. For me, that looks like exercise and catching up with friends. I pencil in time for exercise every morning, and message friends throughout the day. After work, I hang out with a friend or two to catch up and unwind. These portions of the day are non-negotiable because they help me advance my personal goals. Exercising gives me time to reflect on my day and practice mindfulness. My friends give me an outlet to interact with people after a busy workday on a computer.

Ask questions

This can lead to more dynamic conversations between you and others. By asking questions, you show that you're interested in learning more about someone, and you also give yourself a chance to grow as a human being by exposing yourself to ideas that aren't yours.

While this is not a comprehensive list of ways to increase EQ, it's a good place to start. EQ is about practicing both love for yourself and other people. Both are complicated, and because of their complexity, neither can give you the perfect regimen to achieving a higher EQ.

In my experience, the best way to practice EQ is by making an effort to learn more about others and about yourself. How you do that is entirely up to you. Some people, myself included, use to-do lists and habit tracking lists to keep ourselves organized and ensure personal growth. Others may set aside a block of time in their day to practice EQ. It's about doing what feels right to you. And if you don't know what that is, take one of these ideas and try it out. Feel free to adapt or tweak as needed to get what makes you happiest.