By Abhi Golhar of AbhiGolhar.com

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, continues to be an increasingly popular skill to have in the professional world. Many may be wondering why emotional intelligence continues to increase in importance among peers in an evolving workplace. Simply put, emotional intelligence is not a trend. Major companies have compiled statistical proof that employees with emotional intelligence undoubtedly affect the bottom line. In fact, companies with employees that have high levels of emotional intelligence see major increases in total sales and productivity.

In a competitive workplace, developing your EQ skills is vital to your professional success. Below are 10 ways to increase your EQ:

1. Utilize an assertive style of communicating.

Assertive communication goes a long way toward earning respect without coming across as too aggressive or too passive. Emotionally intelligent people know how to communicate their opinions and needs in a direct way while still respecting others.

2. Respond instead of reacting to conflict.

During instances of conflict, emotional outbursts and feelings of anger are common. The emotionally intelligent person knows how to stay calm during stressful situations. They don't make impulsive decisions that can lead to even bigger problems. They understand that in times of conflict the goal is a resolution, and they make a conscious choice to focus on ensuring that their actions and words are in alignment with that.

3. Utilize active listening skills.

In conversations, emotionally intelligent people listen for clarity instead of just waiting for their turn to speak. They make sure they understand what is being said before responding. They also pay attention to the nonverbal details of a conversation. This prevents misunderstandings, allows the listener to respond properly and shows respect for the person they are speaking to.

4. Be motivated.

Emotionally intelligent people are self-motivated and their attitude motivates others. They set goals and are resilient in the face of challenges.

5. Practice ways to maintain a positive attitude.

Don't underestimate the power of your attitude. A negative attitude easily infects others if a person allows it to. Emotionally intelligent people have an awareness of the moods of those around them and guard their attitude accordingly. They know what they need to do in order to have a good day and an optimistic outlook. This could include having a great breakfast or lunch, engaging in prayer or meditation during the day or keeping positive quotes at their desk or computer.

6. Practice self-awareness.

Emotionally intelligent people are self-aware and intuitive. They are aware of their own emotions and how they can affect those around them. They also pick up on others' emotions and body language and use that information to enhance their communication skills.

7. Take critique well.

An important part of increasing your emotional intelligence is to be able to take critique. Instead of getting offended or defensive, high EQ people take a few moments to understand where the critique is coming from, how it is affecting others or their own performance and how they can constructively resolve any issues.

8. Empathize with others.

Emotionally intelligent people know how to empathize. They understand that empathy is a trait that shows emotional strength, not weakness. Empathy helps them to relate to others on a basic human level. It opens the door for mutual respect and understanding between people with differing opinions and situations.

9. Utilize leadership skills.

Emotionally intelligent people have excellent leadership skills. They have high standards for themselves and set an example for others to follow. They take initiative and have great decision making and problem-solving skills. This allows for a higher and more productive level of performance in life and at work.

10. Be approachable and sociable.

Emotionally intelligent people come off as approachable. They smile and give off a positive presence. They utilize appropriate social skills based on their relationship with whomever they are around. They have great interpersonal skills and know how to communicate clearly, whether the communication is verbal or nonverbal.

Many of these skills may seem to be best suited for those who understand basic human psychology. While high EQ skills may come more easily to naturally empathetic people, anyone can develop them. Less empathetic people just have to practice being more self-aware and conscious of how they interact with others. By utilizing these steps, you'll be well on your way to an increase in your emotional intelligence level.

Abhi Golhar, nationally syndicated radio host & entrepreneurial steam roller. Helping business owners advance & finish well. AbhiGolhar.com

Published on: Sep 21, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.