Emotional intelligence is the new phrase that has taken the place of the word, "empathy".
Emotional intelligence is the ability to empathise, or understand and appreciate how another person feels, given their context.
Emotional intelligence is also the ability to accurately predict the effect on the emotions of others, the consequences of your words or actions.
Some people don't have much empathy or emotional intelligence. They have no understanding of how other people feel. They only can understand how they, themselves, would feel if they were in that situation. They cannot "step outside of themselves" and imagine what it would be like for a person, who is different from themselves, to be in a certain situation and how that would feel.
Or it could be that, they are not incapable of empathy, but rather, they simply are not interested in how other people might feel. There are some people who don't concern themselves with how others would feel.
These people do not have emotional intelligence or empathy.
Do you regard yourself as being a person who has empathy or emotional intelligence? Do you wonder how other people must feel? Are you able to put yourself in another person's shoes and imagine what it would be like to be someone else in a difference time and place?
How to be more empathetic. How to develop emotional intelligence
If you want to be more empathetic, then you can do that by practising the art. Here are a few tips on how to be more empathetic.
1. Remember that other people don't know what you know
In order to be empathetic and to have emotional intelligence, you need to take into account of the fact that:
- What you think is easy, some people may find hard.
- What you think is no problem; other people think is a big problem.
- What you consider to be self-evident and simple, others think is advanced knowledge.
And that means that they will feel differently to you, if you asked them to perform in your area of expertise.
For example, if you asked me to make a public speech at a wedding, then I would have no problems with that because I do know how to make a public presentation. However, people who don't have much experience at public speaking, might find making a speech at a wedding is like being issued with a death sentence.
I remember at the last wedding I went to; the bride's father was so nervous he could barely speak. He managed three lines before his nerve broke and he sat down: He said, "Thank you all for coming. I am happy to welcome you into the family. I wish you both the best of luck in your new life". And then he sat down.
I don't get nervous in public speeches. But Poor Bill does. It kills him. I would need to use my imagination to understand and empathise with that kind of fear.
2. Use your memory to remember what is was like for you when you were like that
You were not always as smart as you are now.
- There was a time when you could not drive a car.
- There was a time when you could not do your own shoe laces.
- There was a time when you did not know your times tables. (Maybe you still don't - quickly: what is 7 x 8?).
It is easy to forget what it was like, not to know. So it is easy to get annoyed with learner drivers. It is easy to get frustrated with people who are slower than you. But remember you were not always that quick. There was a time when you could not type on a keyboard. Or you typed with one finger. Now you are a pro on the keyboard, it is easy for you to scoff at the one-fingered typist.
Remember to remember what it was like, for you, when you started, and you may have a little more empathy for others.
3. Remember that others had a different upbringing than you
Their basic philosophy or politics or religious or cultural upbringing has shaped their mind into something very different than yours. If you were brought up in Saudi Arabia, then your view on the world would be very different than if you had been brought up in Sunderland.
And it takes a lot of imagination, empathy and emotional intelligence to bridge the gap between Saudi Arabia and Sunderland.
4. Remember to focus on what unites us, rather than what differentiates us
Even though, in many ways, we are different from each other, we are also all human, and therefore all mostly similar. We all have a lot in common.
- We all have hopes for a better future.
- We all have fears about an uncertain future.
- We all have desires.
- We all have family.
- Most of us want to improve on our current state.
- Most people have self doubts about their own ability.
- We all have a home town and place of birth.
- We all have had parents.
- Most of us know or have children...
So in that way, you can find a common frame of reference with which to build nice feelings of rapport and a common bond.
5. Find the common frame of reference and build a relationship
Success in life depends largely on your ability to gain the cooperative assistance of others.
If you can gain the willing cooperative assistance of others, then you are likely to do well.
If you cannot gain the willing cooperative assistance of others, then you are very likely to have a miserable existence.
So it would pay you to study the principles of emotional intelligence, rapport and empathy.
6. Learn to appreciate others
If you learn to appreciate other, they will in return learn to appreciate you.
Then both parties will gain the willing cooperation of the others and both will benefit.
Summary: How to have more emotional intelligence
- Remember that other people don't know what you know.
- Use your memory to remember what is was like for you when you were like that.
- Remember that others had a different upbringing than you.
- Remember to focus on what unites us, rather than what differentiates us.
- Find the common frame of reference and build a relationship.
- Learn to appreciate others and they will learn to appreciate you, in return.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Training Course Quiz
Try our Emotional Intelligence quiz to rate your EQ.