Developing Emotional Intelligence
Bill Cottringer

“Having both intellectual intelligence (IQ) and emotional intelligence (EQ) is necessary to be successful. What you lack in IQ points, you can make up for by having emotional intelligence.” ~The author.

I know the above quote is true from personal experience. I was born with an average intelligence, plagued with severe ADHD. I gradually figured out a way to overcome these limitations by learning how to manage my own self better, rather than trying that with others—controlling my attentional focus with discipline and learning how to think smarter by increasing my store of emotional intelligence. Below are the five main components of emotional intelligence and some suggestions on how to improve your overall supply of emotional intelligence:

1. Self-awareness.

We start building a sense of self-awareness as infants, just by seeing other things separate from ourselves. Then we acquire conscious self-awareness, the first time we look at a reflection of ourselves in a mirror. This begins a deeply profound sense of separation from everything else, which in turn builds a personal ego reality full of beliefs, truths, perceptions, attitudes and thinking that forms a self-concept. This unique attribute is what differentiates us from the rest of nature—up the foods chain from animals, plants, and minerals. One problem in developing self-awareness, is the blind spot we all have, where others see things about us that we don’t see because these things are too close to us. This is when you must become more open to seeking and using constructive feedback from others to avoid going backwards.

As we build our self-awareness with our thinking, feeling and behavior—which is essential for self-management and achieving success—we realize that this grand opportunity only humans have, comes with a cost. The cost is a sense of separation between us and everything else and basically a bothersome alienation state of aloneness. Ironically, self-awareness is what gets us here, but it is also the only way to get there—rejoining what we separated from. This path hits home with the reality that whatever we do to others is what we are really doing to ourselves. This is a defining moment in our lives that changes everything.

2. Self-regulation.

There is only one way to improve self-regulation and that is by checking our hard-earned egos at the door and being gracefully humble in realizing we are not alone in this life. After that we can identify and accept what we can control—or at least manage better-- about our own thinking, feeling and behavior, and begin to let go of all the other uncontrollable things. The self-regulation process is all about practicing self-discipline, in catching yourself with your own hand in the cookie jar of wrong thinking and behavior and practicing right thinking and behavior in following a better path.

Learning to regulate your moods, especially when they keep you from getting along with others, is an essential skill to increase overall emotional intelligence. The easy part is seeing how your own moods keep you from being the interpersonal magnate you can be, required for success in any endeavor; the hard part is doing something about it. That is where practice does make perfect, and the easier it becomes after the first time.

3. Motivation.

Most of us start out by learning how to be more motivated to achieve success by getting external rewards for doing certain things that the outside world encourages. We become other-directed and behave in ways others tell us to be. Gradually we begin to question the validity of the directions we are getting, especially when we don’t get the results that were implicitly “promised.” That happened to me when I put everything else on hold to earn a Ph.D. because the more education you get, the more money you make and the happier you become. As it turned out, that promise was only half true, about the happiness, but for a different reason.

When we make the shift from paying less attention to what others think and say about us, and more attention to what we think and feel inside, this change opens the door for increasing over-all emotional intelligence from these other four components. Then we find out that intrinsic motivation—being inner directed—is a stronger and more lasting driver of success. Feeling good from doing what feels right inside, is as powerful a reward to the brain as chocolate.

4. Empathy.

Empathy is like common sense, you can see it and know what it is if you have it, but can’t if you don’t. the most significant gains in empathy can usually only come from painful and unpleasant experiences when we tiptoe into the dark side of life with our terrible twin within. But if we learn something positive from these awful adversities and embrace the failure rather than running from it, we can often learn how to be more successful and happier in the long run. Being open to new experiences, without prejudging an outcome in advance, allows much empathy to come inside to use productively when the right time comes.

Fortunately, there are other less painful ways to build your empathy bank with deposits. There are plenty of great movies and books, and even Internet stories, that inspire empathic feelings to learn new perspectives different from your own. The most sensible approach to seeing truth, is that we all have a tiny piece of it, which can fit together for a much bigger picture that can help us all improve the quality of our lives. This will require making a major shift to a win-win abundance mentality, from the status quo of the scarcity-competitive model, with lots of compromises and collaboration—the things that people who have high emotional intelligence do freely. This is just another aspect of becoming more inner-directed.

5. Social Skills.

A colleague of mine, Van Sloan, developed a useful system of measuring this component of emotional intelligence, called Social Quotient (SQ), for predicting success in school and later in work. My own name for this important part of emotional intelligence is “likeability.” The development of social skills involves increasing these other four parts of emotional intelligence, mainly through effective interpersonal communication.

Likeable communication involves conveying things that encourage good communication while avoiding defensiveness that shuts down needed two-way communication. Jack Gibbs’ earlier system of creating a supportive vs. defensive climate involved conveying acceptance vs. judgment, tentativeness vs. certainty, freedom vs. control, empathy vs. insensitivity, spontaneity vs. manipulation, and equality vs. superiority. Add to this communication style, the likeable characteristics of being positive, agreeable, a good listener, honest, real, humility, politeness and humor, and you become a true interpersonal magnate.

I hope this article follows the good advice below.

“The only way to change someone's mind is to connect with them from the heart.” ~Rasheed Ogunlaru.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair, (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.) Coming soon: A Cliché a day will keep the Vet Away (Another Dog’s Tale). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 652-8067 or