Do you want to know how to improve emotional intelligence?  Specifically, concretely, what are steps to take to increase mindfulness and self-knowledge?

At Six Seconds, our vision is one billion people practicing the skills of emotional intelligence by 2039.  So I asked our world-wide network of certified practitioners the following question: What would you recommend for people to practice EQ by increasing self-awareness?

How to Improve Emotional Intelligence: 15+ Tips for Awareness

Some favorite practical tips from the global EQ community


What would you recommend for people to
practice EQ in the Know Yourself pursuit?

The answers have been organized based on the Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence, where the first step is increasing self-awareness. The answers found here are all related to awareness and the skills that you need to fine tune to be more consistently aware:

3 Essential Tips for Practicing Emotional Intelligence

Acknowledge emotions, not as good or bad, right or wrong,

but as a source of information that help you gain self-awareness.

Tang Weng Liang

We too often get stuck in an antagonistic relationship with our emotions, thinking of them as bad and something that we should suppress. But at the end of the day, emotions, even challenging ones like anger, are data. They exist to help us. Overcoming this mindset that there are good and bad emotions is one of the hardest parts of practicing emotional intelligence, but it’s also extremely liberating. Once you truly make emotions your ally, you are empowered to take control of your life. The first step is acknowledging that emotions are providing you with valuable information.

When I find myself reacting to a situation, I take a moment and name the emotion.

Nicole Tervalon

Research has proven this to be incredibly effective method for reducing the intensity of an emotion. Naming emotions to yourself helps, and naming them out loud helps even more. By bridging the gap between thoughts and feelings, naming emotions helps provide distance between the default, “I am blank…” to a much less overwhelming “I am feeling blank.” For a more in depth look at the power of naming emotions, read Six Seconds’ article, Getting Unstuck: The Power of Naming Emotions

Notice when you set yourself up for low EQ moments that become low EQ habits.

Marek Helstrom

Marek went on to say, “There are two common traps. The first is passing critical judgment on others (e.g. “How stupid is that?” or  “What in the world were they thinking?”)  This kind of comment is a crutch to elevate or affirm one’s superiority over another person’s. The EQ moment begins when we learn to recognize the habit and then re-train ourselves to restrain from making any negative comment at all. The second common trap is taking offense unnecessarily.  This is another area that is a struggle for many of us.  In today’s world we have been taught to take offense at even the most trivial matters.  From taking offense, and feeling offended, people quickly escalate to criticism, judgment, bitterness, and unforgiveness, which hurts relationships and even our own health.  The EQ moment:  Notice the other person’s comment or action, and instead of taking offense and taking it personally, just consider it as data:  “Hmmmm, that’s interesting.”  Or, “I wonder what’s going on for her?”  Or, “Wow, he must be really stressed…”


Can you think of any other low EQ habits that you commonly fall into? Post them in the comments section below.

More Tips for How to Improve Emotional Intelligence

Here are more tips for improving self-awareness, which is the first step toward greater emotional intelligence!

Train yourself to sense your emotions via sensations in your body.

Shabbir Latif

Be an observer of yourself.  Pay attention to what you feel

and how those feelings contribute, distract, enhance, or challenge you.

Dawn Karner

Notice your own strengths – and live into your strengths more fully.

Carolyn Meacher

Start with self-awareness. Acknowledge your emotions, where you feel them in your body, and name them.  Give yourself one minute for this when you feel uneasy. Then, a second step is to ask yourself: “What I can do about it?” Allow one minute to come up with a solution!

Irina Sergeeva

Build your emotional vocabulary.

Robin Parker Meredith

Building up your emotional vocabulary is an essential aspect of emotional intelligence. Identifying and accurately labeling emotions is much easier with the right words. For more on emotional literacy, see this wonderful article from Six Seconds.

Sit silently for 15 minutes every day and do self-introspection.  
The reflection is a first step towards practicing EQ.

Avtar Saksena

Start by noticing what you’re feeling, right now. Observe without judgment or trying to ‘fix’ anything;
just notice your emotions a few times per day.

Cheryl McKenzie-Cook

In the office, keep a feelings whiteboard divided for 2-3 parts of the day – morning, noon, evening – and list six or eight feelings.  Then ask people to check mark their feelings during the day.  See where the max check marks land.

Dexter Valles

Next in this series:  How to Practice EQ: Tips for Choice

Follow me

Joshua Freedman

Joshua is one of the world’s preeminent experts on developing emotional intelligence to create positive change. With warmth and authenticity, he translates leading-edge science into practical, applicable terms that improve the quality of relationships to unlock enduring success. Joshua leads the world’s largest network of emotional intelligence practitioners and researchers.
Follow me