5 Ways to Build Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ describes a person’s ability to recognise emotions, to understand their effect, and to use that information to guide decision-making. Research has consistently demonstrated that a high EQ can help you reach goals more effectively.

Of course, getting in touch with your emotions (and those of others) can be a challenging process, as is changing deeply rooted and long-standing behaviours.

So, how do you increase your EQ?

Researchers have found that some common leisure activities can produce an increase in emotional intelligence. Here are five surprising ways to sharpen your EQ, and have some fun in the process:

Watching movies

If you’re a movie fan, you realise the emotional responses a good film can inspire – from eliciting sympathy for a tragically flawed character, to the feel-good story that lifts us up.

So the next time you watch a film, take a few moments afterwards to reflect on the emotions you felt during different scenes. Ask yourself questions like: With which characters did I empathise the most? Why was that? What would I have done differently if I were a part of the story?

Contemplating thoughts like these will help you to understand your own emotional reactions better.

Reading books

A recent studies suggests that reading great fiction has a unique ability to improve our emotional intelligence. This makes sense: As we delve into books, we stretch our imaginations to put ourselves in the characters’ shoes, to understand their thinking, their feelings, their motivations. It’s then natural that these abilities would carry over into our everyday lives.

Engaging in sports and exercise

In a systematic review of 36 studies that assessed emotional intelligence in the context of athletics, researchers found that EQ related to:

  • physiological stress responses
  • successful psychological skill usage
  • more successful athletic performance
  • positive attitudes toward physical activity

In other words, higher emotional intelligence can actually make you better at sports and exercise, and vice versa.


More and more research has proven that writing, especially about traumatic or stressful events, serves as a form of catharsis, providing numerous benefits on individuals’ emotional health.


Studies have suggested that extended travel promotes increases in emotional stability, takes individuals out of their comfort zone, and encourages growth in perspective.

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