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Research tells us that emotional intelligence can be increased through practice, but how do we measure improvements in our ability to regulate our own emotions, empathize, and interact with others in an open, honest manner? Here are some signs of emotional intelligence development that are easily assessed in professional situations.  

Level 1: Self-awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to identify your own emotions as they arise and recognize how they affect the people around you. Developing this skill is the key to building confidence in your abilities and how others perceive you. One sign of improvement in this area is an improved ability to handle negative feedback about your performance without denial, excuses, or attempting to shift blame. Instead of offering excuses, people with high emotional intelligence are able to listen to criticism without anxiety and look for constructive solutions. In doing so, self-aware individuals increase their understanding of their own strengths and limitations, learn from their interactions with others, and open themselves to new experiences and information.

Level 2: Self-regulation

The second level of emotional intelligence, self-regulation, is a skill that requires you to regulate your emotions. While you may not be able to control when you experience an emotion, you can learn how to express those emotions appropriately. This skill can be developed through a variety of techniques, such as journaling, meditation, and exercise. Those who are skilled at self-regulation are able to manage it and even determine how long it lasts.

Level 3: Empathy

The next level of emotional intelligence involves being able to understand the emotions of other individuals and respond to those individuals based on this understanding. As you develop the ability to identify the emotional cues of others, you also improve your ability to recognize and anticipate their wants and needs–a crucial skill for a leader to have when interacting with employees, clients, business partners, and investors. 

Level 4: Social Skills

In today’s constantly-connected, global business landscape, possessing “people skills” has become more important than ever. Improving your social skills requires you to not just understand your own feelings and those of others, but also to be able to apply this understanding to your everyday interactions. Signs of well-developed social abilities are effective communication, nonverbal communication, and active listening skills. 

Level 5: Motivation

While some people are naturally more achievement oriented than others, it is possible to improve motivational skills with effort and practice. By learning to set clear goals and stay committed to a task despite setbacks, you can train yourself to think more positively, which will help you achieve your goals. 

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