In the Future of Jobs Report, which the World Economic Forum published in 2015, chief human resources officers from global companies were asked what they saw as the top job skills required for workers to thrive by 2020.

Interestingly enough, a new skill has appeared that wasn't even on the radar in 2015: emotional intelligence. Fast forward to 2022, and emotional intelligence (EQ) has fast become an important predictor of job success, even surpassing technical ability in some circles.

Companies are placing a high value on people with EQ for several reasons that lead to competitive advantage. For example, they cooperate better with others, are exceptional listeners, are open to feedback, and show more empathy.

But how do you actually practice emotional intelligence?

Over the years, I've compiled data and practical examples of behaviors to answer that very question. Here are six ways to do it:

1. Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings

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.

2. Test your optimism

People with a high degree of EQ demonstrate a healthy optimism around life's events and challenging circumstances. To test your own level of optimism, ask yourself three questions related to a current issue:

  • Am I thinking that this is permanent? Real downers may think to themselves, "This situation will never get better."
  • Am I feeling that this is prevalent and widespread? Pessimistic people default to pervasive worst-case scenario thinking like, "This is going to change everything."
  • Am I giving up my power? Maybe you've concluded that you are powerless in your situation. Does a thought like "there is nothing I can do" permeate your thought process?

Then step back and go into deep inquiry and reflection; gather evidence for these thoughts and views. If they are false and inaccurate, make a case for choosing more realistic, accurate, and positive thoughts.

3. Focus on what you can control

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

4. Take a six-second pause

When you are frustrated, angry, or upset, before you say something you'll really regret, take a six-second pause to quickly assess how you feel. When you apply consequential thinking, you make more careful choices that ultimately work to your advantage.

5. Tap into kindness wherever you go

Engage in positive, caring dialogue with the people you encounter in the daily rhythms of life--the Uber driver, the grocery-bag packer, the barista, etc. Say good morning and offer a kind word to people walking by. Ask meaningful questions, as brief as the exchange may be, and lean in to listen to the answers.

6. Ask for feedback

Emotions at work should never be checked at the door. Therefore, create opportunities to informally share what you feel. Also, ask team members and clients for genuine feedback--how they really feel about things that relate to the business. This can clear the air of any harbored resentment or unresolved matter in the relationship.