Do you want to know how to practice emotional intelligence? What are specific, tangible steps to take to respond more carefully (instead of reacting on autopilot)?

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: What would you recommend for people to practice EQ to be more intentional and less volatile?

How to Practice Emotional Intelligence: 15+ Tips for Choice

Some favorite practical tips from the global EQ community


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

The answers have been organized based on the Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence, which is a three step process: (1) increase awareness, (2) evaluate, and (3) move forward purposefully. Earlier we posted tips for how to increase self-awareness. These answers are all about using emotional intelligence to make better choices. The point is to move out of reaction – to pause, evaluate and respond in the best way possible.  There are four competencies that let you do so:

3 Essential Tips for Practicing Emotional Intelligence

PAC before you act:  Pause. Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. Clear your mind.

Nehad Tadros

This three step process is quite powerful. The pause gives your body a chance to get back to baseline. It takes about six seconds for the body to absorb molecules of emotion after they have been released – hence the name of our organization. Acknowledging your emotions brings together the cognitive and the emotional, which research has shown to be a powerful way to lessen the intensity of an emotional reaction. After pausing and acknowledging, your mind will already feel much clearer.

Ask yourself: “Do I feel expanded and open or contracted and small?

Rita Haque

When you feel “compressed,” breathing deeply “into the belly” can release muscles – really breathe, and let your shoulders open and relax. As you fill up with air, the physiological expansion influences the mind and emotions as well, reducing stress and increasing openness.  This helps us make more powerful, positive choices.

In challenging situations, I examine my thoughts with the three questions of optimism:

Am I thinking that this is permanent? (‘It will never get better’)

Am I feeling this is pervasive? (‘It is changing everything’)

Am I giving up my power? (‘There is nothing I can do’)

Sandeep Kelkar

Then I step back and become a ‘detective” and try to gather evidence for those views. If those thoughts are inaccurate, I dispute them and choose realistic, accurate, positive thoughts.


More Tips for How to Practice Emotional Intelligence

Here are more tips for making more thoughtful, positive choices with emotional intelligence.

When you hit a setback, separate what parts of the situation you can control or influence and what parts you cannot. Focus on what you can influence and notice how much more confident you feel about overcoming the setback.

Dawn Cook

When you are frustrated or upset, before you say something harsh, take a six second pause to quickly assess the costs and benefits of that action.  When you apply consequential thinking, you make more careful choices that ultimately work to your advantage.

Niloufer Aga

Find something impossible to do… and practice.

Joshua Freedman

It sounds corny but it’s a profound mental switch. Just try saying “I can’t” and “I can’t yet” — the emotional experience is dramatically different.  The first is a wall.  The second, a door. For more on this, read The Seduction of Impossibility.

Take Two: Set aside two minutes – relax and breathe deeply.  Then write down two solutions to your problem.

Beth Hammett

Create opportunities to informally share what you feel and ask for feelings feedback – in your teams as well as with clients. This can clear the air of any harbored darkness in the relationship.

Dexter Valles

Tap into compassion everywhere. Engage in positive caring dialogue with the taxi driver, the dry cleaning man, the grocery bag packer, etc. Say good morning to passing people on the sidewalk. Ask meaningful questions. Really listen to the answers.

Carolyn Meacher

Take the six second pause to gather your thoughts before you speak.

Teresa Veenstra

Sr. Consultant & Executive Coach

Learn from the past, live in the moment, and plan for the future.

Ed Wood

When you are emotionally charged, take a deep breath before responding. The science of breathing is very deep in Yoga, and at least one deep breath creates a Six Second Pause.

Mala Kapadia

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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.
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