Emotional intelligence is a little difficult to pin down in many ways, especially with the modern day emphasis on mental strength. While the two are inter-related, it can help to work on emotional intelligence as its own practice. There are 5 proven ways to increase emotional intelligence.

#1 – Social Situations
Learning to handle yourself in social settings is the primary means through which emotional intelligence can be increased. Some people find social situations quite painful, but they are often the best way to excel. If you really want to fast track emotional intelligence, consider public speaking or debating. These are not merely mental practices but they will require emotional skills to execute successfully.

#2 – Express Yourself
The majority of people do not know how to express themselves. In many ways, society teaches us to keep our emotions repressed, with a politically correct movement that prevents people from stating the truth. To offset this, learn to express yourself as much as possible. If not in a public setting, you can write or paint in ways that express how you truly feel. Expression is essential to wellbeing and its opposite, repression, will result in an unhappy lifestyle.

#3 – Undertake Charitable Acts
While many people are focused on acquiring material possessions, studies have shown that giving away things and taking on volunteer work actually leads to increased meaning and happiness in life. Seeing how other people live in substandard conditions is an excellent way to increase emotional intelligence. It will increase your empathy and compassion.

#4 – Talk Directly
The most direct way to increase your emotional intelligence is to find someone you are close to (such as your partner) and discuss how you feel. This will help you to understand how the other person feels and for you to release pent up frustrations. Releasing bottled up energy can assist in personal mastery, as there will be little holding you back. Good listeners are rare to find, but they are invaluable.

#5 – Evaluation
Most people live in subjective bubbles. For example, the authoritarian manager can often have no idea how he or she comes across to others. You can evaluate how you make others feel in order to improve your emotional intelligence. Another way to evaluate your emotional intelligence is through journaling your daily experience and quiet reflection. Always remember that your relationship to yourself will be reflected in your relationship to others.