In previous articles, we’ve delved into the meaning of Whole Person Development or the concept that individuals are made up of a blend of multiple components. To become successful, we must nurture all these components within ourselves to ensure self-actualization and fulfillment. The six components are emotional intelligence, physical, spiritual, social, psychological, and professional. However, it’s not enough to know what the six components of Whole Person Development are; we must also understand the function of each component and how best to nourish each one.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EI) pertains to your emotional leadership. In other words, how you affect others and as a result, how others perceive you. Emotional intelligence isn’t necessarily something you can learn. You can, however, train yourself to become more aware and encourage EI growth by trying new things and leaving your comfort zone. In other words: get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s these situations that awaken our mind and help us learn. In turn, as we learn we strengthen and expand our emotional leadership.
So how does one grow their emotional leadership? Here are two ideas to get you started today:
Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
Try something new and eye-opening. Immerse yourself in a different culture, by forgoing a resort-style vacation in favor of an exotic exploration. Experience a different lifestyle by volunteering at a homeless shelter. Anything that will help open your eyes to the world around you and make you more aware of the various circumstances in which people live.
From a business perspective, consider engaging in some networking activities. Take the time to chat with co-workers in different departments at work. Approach your boss about learning a new skill, or taking on a project that scares you. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Listen to Understand
Understand before you’re understood. As humans, we’re conditioned to listen with the intent to reply, rather than listening to understand. Changing this habit takes time and practice, but results in far better emotional leadership. Allow yourself the chance to connect with someone, rather than rushing to respond. Ask yourself questions about the conversation, to better receive the message: why is this person talking to you? What are they saying? What are they not saying? What do they want? What do they need you to know?
Your goal is to understand their perspective. The next time you’re in a conversation wait until you have a complete understanding of the context before responding. If you don’t understand right away, ask for clarification and elaboration. Remember, an emotionally intelligent person is capable of entertaining someone else’s ideas and perspectives, even if they don’t agree with what’s being said.
Now it’s time to take what you’ve learned here and apply it to your daily life. Challenge yourself to ask two or three more questions than you would usually during a difficult conversation. In all likelihood, this exercise will make you uncomfortable at times, but it will also help you learn and expand your emotional intelligence. You’ll be surprised how much easier these conversations will become over time.
Meredith Wailes is the President of Bloom Leadership, a cutting-edge platform for business growth with a focus on Whole Person Development. Meredith is a founding member and Chair of Membership for the Private Directors Association and creator of “SeeD”, a scholarship fund dedicated to female leaders who manage, operate, and/or own for-profit businesses in Charlotte, NC. For more information visit Meredith on LinkedIn and Twitter.