If you pull off any of these 5 things, you’ve truly mastered emotional intelligence

You may already know you’re good with people, but do you feel like you can truly call yourself a master of emotional intelligence? Consider this: To reach mastery, not only do you need a solid knowledge base, but you also need to understand how to apply it in practical ways and in a variety of contexts. If you pull off any of these five things, congrats — you definitely have a super high EQ.

“Emotional intelligence isn’t something you’re necessarily born with, it’s something you learn. Ways to work on EQ include focusing on increasing self-awareness, reframing negative interpersonal conflicts, becoming more aware of emotional triggers, and recognizing and celebrating positive emotions,” says Joanna Lovering, executive presence coach, workplace psychologist, and founder of Copper + Rise.

“No matter what book you read, psychologist you revere, or EQ model you learn, there is one thing you’ll find in common with all of them: emotional intelligence is a skill, not an ability.”

And it’s in your best interest to practice and master the use of emotional intelligence in the workplace.

“While EQ seems like a ‘people issue’ at a company, it can affect a company’s bottom line,” says Lovering. Think high turnover when a manager has low EQ, lower team performance (in a survey by TalentSmartEQ, 90% of top performers displayed high emotional intelligence compared to only 20% of low performers) or decreased sales since employees who have higher emotional intelligence tend to relate to customers in more constructive ways.

Ladders asked Lovering for her take on the most impressive displays of emotional intelligence in action. Using a model introduced by Daniel Goleman, which focuses on EQ as a wide array of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance (self-awareness, self-regulation, social skill, empathy, and motivation), she shared a few habits that demonstrate outstanding emotional intelligence in the workplace.

1. Express vulnerability in a productive and professional way

Emotionally intelligent people will often tell stories of things like their failures, faults, and what they’ve learned through experience. It’s an effective way to humanize yourself, as well as help with decision-making and connect with colleagues on a deeper level,” says Lovering.

This is not about oversharing in inappropriate ways, but being willing to bring more of your humanity in the workplace and drop appearances in favor of authentic, powerful conversations. While it might be tempting to sweep a failure under the rug because you feel bad about it, the benefits of being transparent with your team outweigh the discomfort of putting yourself out there.

2. Request critical feedback

When’s the last time you asked for constructive feedback? Not only can doing so improve your performance and advance your career, but it’s also a sign of high emotional intelligence, according to Lovering:

“Asking for critical feedback from your colleagues takes courage and confidence. Opening yourself up to the fact that you might receive some negative surprises is a lesson in listening comprehension, and integrating the feedback you receive is all about having empathy and compassion for what you’re hearing.”

And, if you make asking for feedback on a regular basis a habit at work, it won’t feel as scary.

3. Use communication styles with an audience

You’ve heard it a million times from a variety of leadership and communication experts: know your audience.

“What they’re really saying is to know your own default communication style (direct? influential? etc.) and then flex it towards someone else’s. That is the best way to connect and align with someone else’s needs, motivations, and inspirations.”

The best part? Once you get the hang of adapting your message to your audience and playing with different communication tactics, presentations can get really fun and exhilarating.

4. Ditch perfectionism

Lovering says that the most emotionally intelligent professionals avoid falling into the trap of aiming for perfection.

“Emotionally intelligent people know that perfection isn’t possible. Humans are inherently flawed, and expecting perfection will always leave a sense of failure.”

This, ironically, also applies to aiming for perfectionism when it comes to being emotionally intelligent. If you focus on honing your skills and learning from any faux-pas without harshly judging yourself, you’ll be cultivating self-compassion and a growth mindset — two things that support your goal of increasing your EQ.

5. Stay away from gossip and negative coworkers

“Criticizing others can be a sign of projection, an unconscious act to cast out your own insecurities. People with high EQ don’t hold grudges and are able to let go of negative emotions,” according to Lovering.

So resist the urge to vent and gossip and use any triggers as an opportunity to connect to yourself on a deeper level and gain more self-knowledge and emotional mastery.

You’ll also want to be mindful of the company you keep as well as the boundaries you enforce with others. “Surrounding yourself with people who focus on problems and not solutions can reel you into their emotional downward spiral. Those with EQ are able to be empathic without getting sucked in.”