Scientific lessons to improve your emotional intelligence
learn actionable and science backed techniques that help you manage and improve your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is at its core the ability to manage your emotional reactions and to understand other people’s reactions towards positive and negative experiences.
The world is a complex and dynamic place, where at one time you may experience joy and success, and at another, hardship and failure. In order to navigate through this mixed bag of experiences unscathed we need to be able to deal with the good as well as the bad. It is therefore important to learn how to make the most out of the good experiences, handle the negative ones, and interact productively with other people dealing with their own emotional reactions. Luckily, your emotional intelligence is not set in stone–it is largely a skill, and with practice you can significantly improve your life-satisfaction, and overall well being.
This module distills the most reliable advances on emotion regulation research and positive psychology into actionable mini-lessons designed to help you develop your emotional intelligence skills. The lessons have been set up to be easy to follow and implement in your daily life. They include a range of tools and tactics to help you better manage yourself, understand others, and reach your goals.
In this document you’ll learn to be more receptive to positive experiences, exert control over your emotional expression, and learn techniques that can help you deal with stressful experiences.
As always, we have gone through hundreds of empirical papers from psychology, neuroscience, developmental science, cognitive science, and clinical research. We have then summarized and explained it in a way that is easy to understand and even easier to follow. You will be given quick tactics that you can use in the moment, as well as micro-habits that you can implement throughout your day to effectively improve your emotion-regulation skills over time.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence includes two main parts:
- Emotion “regulation” – which refers to the process by which we influence the expression, experience, and duration of our own emotions in order to reach a desired goal.
- Better understanding other people’s emotions.
Better emotional intelligence leads to all sorts of improved outcomes, including higher well-being, less stress, fewer depressive symptoms, and more self-esteem.
Emotion regulation components that will be developed in this module include:
- Emotional awareness. This is perhaps the most important component of effective emotion regulation, as we first need to be aware of the fact that we are experiencing an emotion, before we can attempt to regulate it. It also covers better interpreting other people’s emotions.
- Situational control. A powerful tool in emotional intelligence is the ability to assert control over a situation. We can do this by finding a part of the situation that we can exert an influence on, or otherwise modify in order to help us achieve our desired results.
- Efficient attention deployment. A lot happens around us all the time. If we don’t learn to focus on the positive aspects of our lives, we run the risk of being overwhelmed by the negative. We’ll therefore discuss tips and tricks to be more receptive of positive experiences and help you develop optimism towards the future.
- Reappraisal. This might be the most valuable skill that you will ever learn (in regard to your well-being), and it consists of the ability to turn a negative experience into something positive (or neutral).
Expression modulation. By documenting our emotional expression we can learn a lot about what makes us feel certain emotions, and how we convey these emotions. Once we know how we act, we can influence our expression to better fit our desired goals.
Access our premium module on enhancing your emotional intelligence
Try our science-backed, micro-habits to enhance your emotional intelligence
You must “always be positive”
To start off, and maybe most importantly, positive psychology is not a philosophy to “just think positively!”
Positive psychology acknowledges the importance of “negative” emotions, as they can help us identify problems, make changes, and improve our situation.
You are unique and and skill development may take some practice. Regarding the interventions, it is important to know that there are indeed individual differences in the effectiveness of the interventions. What this means is that what works for one person, might not work as well for another.
A prime reason for this lies in the level of a person’s base level of emotional intelligence and openness to growth. More specifically, for a person to attempt to regulate their emotions, they must:
- Be aware that they are experiencing an emotion, and
- Believe that regulation will be effective (2).
Research has shown that people who view their emotions as fixed (versus malleable) had less confidence in their ability to regulate their emotions and, as a result, poorer emotional outcomes (1).
Additionally, there is not a single “magic fix” that will forever improve your emotional intelligence in all circumstances. Instead, there is a set of skills, many of which can help you immediately but almost all of which you can improve over time.
- Tamir, M., Chiu, C., & Gross, J. J. (2007).
Business or pleasure? Utilitarian versus hedonic considerations in emotion regulation. Emotion, 7, 546–554. doi:10.1037/1528-35188.8.131.526
- Webb, T. L., Schweiger Gallo, I., Miles, E., Gollwitzer, P. M., & Sheeran, P. (2012).
Effective regulation of affect: An action control perspective on emotion regulation.
European review of social psychology, 23(1), 143-186.