Experts Reveal 9 Micro-Habits That Significantly Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

You might not be able to control your emotions, but you can control your response.

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We're going to need a couple of quick-and-dirty clarifications here. What is "emotional intelligence," anyway? And why is it important?

Let's turn to the ancient seat of Western knowledge, Greece, for a useful definition: "Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, and use emotions positively to manage anxiety, communicate well, empathize, overcome issues, solve problems, and manage conflicts (from A New Layered Model on Emotional Intelligence, National Centre for Scientific Research)."


Next, the folks from the social sciences department at the University of Chicago show us why we should care. The results of a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology showed that emotional intelligence (EQ) and wisdom are closely related, especially when it comes to "knowing what you know and what you don't know, but by virtue of empathic concern and perspective-taking."

In other words, the greater your command of emotional intelligence, the better you are able to know yourself and others. And that leads us to the next question: How can we cultivate greater emotional intelligence through everyday actions? 


We asked a panel of YourTango Experts to share small, simple habits that can help build deeper emotional intelligence. Here are their responses.

RELATED: The Smartest People Possess These 4 Traits Of Emotional Intelligence

Here, experts reveal the nine micro-habits that significantly increase your emotional intelligence:

1. Connect with your internal wisdom

Get present with yourself each day. Take time to pause and connect with your internal guidance system, listening to your intuition. This allows your authentic voice to shine through, versus getting caught by your critical inner voice, which often emerges from a place of fear and self-doubt.


Michele Molitor, coach, hypnotherapist

RELATED: 10 Signs You Or Someone You Know Has Low Emotional Intelligence

2. Examine your emotions, listen, and learn

First and foremost, self-reflection stands tall. Carving out a few moments each day to delve into the depths of our emotions, examine their origins, and understand their impact allows us to navigate life's twists and turns gracefully.

Through this journey, we unravel the complexities of our emotional landscape, nurturing a deeper connection with our inner selves.

Next, there's the art of active listening. By silencing the noise of our own thoughts and truly immersing ourselves in another's story, we open a gateway to empathy. In this vulnerable space, we honor the emotions of those around us, fostering connections and building stronger bridges of understanding.


Lastly, curiosity and continuous learning play a powerful role in expanding our emotional intelligence. Seeking diverse perspectives, engaging in meaningful conversations, reading, exploring, and embracing novel experiences all broaden our emotional being.

Clare Waismann M-RAS/SUDCC II, founder, Waismann Method Rapid Detox and Domus Retreat

3. Cultivate a belief in the vitality of life

Listening to that still small voice within you and believing that life is happening for you.

- Mimi Whittaker, intuitive life coach

4. Record your thoughts in a journal

Writing in your journal allows you to get in touch with your feelings and review how far you have come. Checking in with yourself before you just blurt out yes to something someone has asked you to do will give you that breathing space to be able to feel good about a commitment.


Marla Martenson, transformational life coach, matchmaker

5. Pause and reflect on emotions 

Since the range of vocabulary to describe emotion is somewhat circumscribed and sometimes misunderstood, consider naming in your mind any emotion you notice in yourself and in others for practice.

As appropriate, use the listening skill of reflection of feeling in conversations. Make it tentative as in: It sounds to me from your tone of voice that you may be feeling this emotion, or I wonder if you're feeling this emotion about that circumstance.

Ruth Schimel, Ph.D., career & life management consultant, author


6. Remember to breathe

Practice the daily habit of diaphragmatic breathing.

Audrey Tait, counselor

7. Stop and think before answering a question

In both personal and professional relationships, many people are unprepared and intimidated by questions posed that appear to have an agenda or hidden meaning. Perhaps your boss asks if you have any plans this weekend.

There are many ways you could answer that question or maybe you do not want to reveal some detail in your personal life. One way to take charge is to ask, "Is there a question behind the question?' The other person then may reveal the reason. Maybe they want to request you to work over the weekend on something or maybe they just want to be friendly.


Either way, you can always question the motive or meaning of a question or even criticism so that you understand how to best answer. This approach can help you to improve your emotional intelligence by questioning assumptions rather than just guessing.

Jeff Saperstein, career coach

RELATED: 13 Signs You're With An Emotionally Intelligent Man

8. Analyze the reasons behind your emotions

Anytime something rubs you the wrong way or you feel particularly frustrated, ask yourself why. This self-awareness will improve your emotional intelligence by giving you an idea of why certain things get to you.

Often, we are so busy that when something annoys us, it has a domino effect and tends to have a negative influence on other aspects of our day. If we understand, oh I’m upset because so and so was late today and I consider punctuality to be a sign of respect. Now I feel as if so and so doesn’t respect me. Maybe they were visiting family in the hospital or have an illness they don’t want to discuss.


Ascribing our thought process to everyone else only serves to create miscommunication and unnecessary frustrations. Look beyond your initial reaction. Become your own toddler, and always ask, “Why?”

Erika Jordan, love coach, NLP

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9. Be mindful of your emotions and journal to track your progress

Developing emotional intelligence is a valuable skill that can positively impact various aspects of a person's life.

Take a few moments each day to reflect on your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Consider why you felt a certain way, how you reacted, and if there were alternative approaches. This self-awareness helps you better understand your emotions and the factors influencing them.

Set aside a few minutes each day to engage in personalized mindfulness or meditation practices. The personalization of meditation can be curated based on Date of Birth and Name. These techniques promote self-awareness, emotional regulation, and an overall sense of calm. They can enhance your ability to manage stress and respond to emotions effectively.

Write down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a journal regularly. This habit allows you to explore and process your emotions, providing valuable insights into patterns, triggers, and growth opportunities. It can also serve as a reference for tracking your emotional progress over time.


Sidhharrth S Kumaar, Astro Numerologist & Chief Happiness Officer, NumroVani

RELATED: The One Question That Reveals How You Really Process Your Emotions

Carter Gaddis is the senior editor for Experts and Wellness with YourTango.