Everywhere you look nowadays, you’ll read about the value of emotional intelligence, and how you need to sharpen your EQ.
But what is emotional intelligence, exactly? And how can it help you in your everyday life?
Those are the questions I set out to answer in my new book, EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence.
Below, you’ll find 33 quotes from the book that help you understand what emotional intelligence is, why it’s so necessary, and how you can build yours.
1. You should never make a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion.
2. Since most of the emotions you experience occur almost instinctively, you can’t control how you feel in any given moment. But you can control how you react to those feelings–by focusing on your thoughts.
3. By acknowledging, accepting, and working through your feelings, you can learn to turn “emotional” into “emotionally intelligent.”
4. Everyone says they value transparency and honesty. Most are lying.
5. We might imagine each of our relationships as a bridge we build between us and another person. Any strong bridge must be built on a solid foundation–and for relationships, that foundation is trust.
6. Without trust, there can be no love, no friendship, no lasting connection between people. But where there is trust, there is motivation to act. If you trust someone is looking after your best interests, you will do almost anything that person asks of you.
7. Being humble doesn’t mean that you lack self-confidence or that you never stand up for your own opinions or principles. Rather, it involves recognizing that you don’t know everything–and being willing to learn from others.
8. One of the quickest ways to gain someone’s trust is to help them. Think about your favorite boss or teacher. Where they graduated from, what kind of degree they have, even their previous accomplishments–none of this is relevant to your relationship. But what about the hours they were willing to take out of their busy schedule to listen or help out? Their readiness to get down in the trenches and work alongside you? Actions like these inspire trust.
9. Honest communication requires more than saying what you sincerely believe; it means avoiding half-truths and ensuring the information you present is done in a way that will not be misinterpreted. Focusing on technicalities, loopholes, and escape clauses may win you a trial in court, but it won’t win you others’ trust.
10. Authenticity doesn’t mean sharing everything about yourself, to everyone, all of the time. Rather, it means saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and sticking to your values and principles above all else.
11. Every promise you deliver upon, every humble act you commit, every word of sincere and specific praise you utter, and every effort to show empathy will contribute to building deep and trusting relationships–like the untold number of delicate brushstrokes that make up a beautiful painting.
12. When others fall, help them up. If you keep your own failings in mind, you’ll find it easier to encourage and build up rather than dishearten and tear down.
13. By choosing to focus on the positive, skillfully sharing your own experience, or simply reminding the person that everyone has a bad day, you’ll not only make the best of a bad situation–you’ll win others’ trust, and you’ll inspire them to be the best version of themselves.
14. When someone’s willing to share their thoughts, consider it a gift. Process it. Ponder it. Accept it. Learn from it. Whether it’s negative or positive, don’t let it define you. Take what you can and move on.
15. Remember: although we’re generally drawn to like-minded people, it’s those who disagree with us–the ones who call us out, who point out our weaknesses and flaws–who help us grow. Those who challenge us truly make us better.
16. Emotional hijacks–those moments in which your emotions cause you to do or say something you later regret–aren’t pleasant, but they’re inevitable. The question is: What are you going to do with them? With a little self-reflection, you can turn these hijacks into a learning experience.
17. Six questions to help you achieve behavioral change:
- Why did I react the way I did?
- Did my reaction help me or harm me?
- How does this situation fit into the big picture? How will I fell about it in an hour? A week? A year?
- What may I have misunderstood or be getting wrong, especially in the heat of the moment?
- What would I change if I could do it again?
- What could I say to myself next time that would help me think more clearly?
18. Feedback is like an unpolished diamond. To the untrained eye, a freshly mined gem may not look valuable, or even attractive. But after the long and complex process of sorting, cutting, and polishing, its true value becomes obvious. In a similar way, learning to extract the benefits of criticism can prove to be an invaluable skill.
19. A quick word about empathy: You’ll never be able to imagine exactly how another person feels. But trying will get you a lot closer than you would be otherwise.
20. If you truly want to get your point across, aim to be kind and fair, not accusatory or sarcastic. The old saying is true: you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. At the very least, make honey the appetizer.
21. On reasoning with empathy: In order to convince someone to think differently, you must first understand how they think. Get to know their pain points so you can help solve them. Learn their communication style, along with their personal drivers and motivations. This will allow you to speak in a way they understand. Even more importantly, this will help you reach them emotionally–which may in turn motivate them to act.
22. An approach based on reason is sound, fair, and sensible. The problem is, what one person considers sound, fair, and sensible is much different from someone else’s assessment–especially when dealing with controversial topics. That’s why empathy is so important: it allows you to reason from the other person’s point of view instead of your own.
23. In the course of a discussion, you may become even more convinced that the other person is wrong. You may see key weaknesses in their position and be tempted to “go for the kill.”
But people are emotionally attached to their beliefs. If you mercilessly expose every flaw in your partner’s reasoning, they’ll feel attacked. Remember that lasting influence takes time. Your goal isn’t to “win the argument” or change someone’s mind in a single discussion. Rather, strive to see the bigger picture.
24. On the power of storytelling: Numbers, data, and a well-crafted argument are important aspects of convincing evidence. But used alone, their reach is extremely limited. Simply put, they’re boring.
But everyone loves a great story. When you can use an anecdote or factual example to illustrate your topic, you bring it to life for your listener. It engages their mental faculties; it touches them. You also bridge the link between theory and practice. Don’t just recount the facts; find a way to bring them to life.
25. Emotional intelligence comes in all different packages, shapes, and sizes. Man or woman. Quiet or loud. Brash or meek. Leader or follower. As you become aware of your own emotional tendencies and weaknesses, endeavor to learn from those who are the most different from you. Because in many cases, it’s those people who can teach you the most.
26. Our emotions influence practically everything about our lives. They help us decide which career path we take, for which jobs we apply. They determine whether or not we enjoy a movie, a song, or a piece of art. They impact our decisions as to where we will live and for how long. They help us determine with whom we choose to spend our time, whom we fall in love with and marry…and whom we leave behind.
27. Emotions can cause us to make a split-second decision, with consequences that will follow us for the rest of our lives. At times, they make us feel like we’re stuck in a black hole with no way out–even if in the eyes of the rest of the world we’ve got it made. But they can also provide light at the end of the tunnel, making the most dire of circumstances more bearable.
28. Emotions determine how we choose our leaders and how our leaders choose us. They’ve motivated every war that’s ever been fought–and every peace treaty that’s ever been signed.
29. Remember that emotional intelligence isn’t about understanding every feeling you have as it occurs or dissecting every event as it happens. Rather, it’s the ability to search for deeper understanding when beneficial. And the ability to simply enjoy the moment when not.
30. Emotional intelligence manifests itself in various ways. In addition to deciding which abilities you wish to develop, you must also choose how you’re going to use them.
31. The best way to protect yourself from harmful uses of emotional intelligence is by striving to increase your own.
32. Emotions are beautiful. They make us human. Enjoy them. Love them. Embrace them. But never underestimate their power, and their potential to do harm.
33. Emotional intelligence is a simple concept: It’s the ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you.
Enjoy this post? Check out my book, EQ Applied, which uses fascinating research and compelling stories to illustrate what emotional intelligence looks like in everyday life.
A version of this article originally appeared on Inc.com.