Emotionally Intelligent People Adopt These 10 Simple Rules
“How can I improve my emotional intelligence? “
This is a question I get asked a lot. And over the past year or so, I’ve used this column to focus on answering that question – providing simple rules that are not only easy to remember, but you can start practicing right away.
Here are 10 rules of emotional intelligence that will help you start making emotions work for you, rather than against you.
1. The 25/5 rule
According to an ancient legend, billionaire Warren Buffett’s personal pilot was once discussing career priorities with his boss when Buffett taught him a simple lesson.
Buffet said to make a list of his 25 best career goals first, then circle the best five goals.
To stay focused on achieving goals one through five, Buffet said (according to legend), you need to steer clear of the rest of the goals. Otherwise, you will continue to get distracted by things that are interesting but prevent you from progressing on the most important things.
Buffet has publicly stated that this story never really happened … but the premise remains: success means learning to say no, so you can say yes to the things that matter most.
Learn more about how to apply the 25/5 rule here.
2. Write backwards
Writing backwards is simple: you need to reverse your role as writer (of an email, report, landing page, etc.) with the role of recipient (your audience). This is useful because it prevents you from:
write from an overly emotional point of view,
write things down that won’t help your cause and that the recipient doesn’t care about
Writing backwards is also emotionally intelligent, as it helps you build your empathy muscle.
Learn more about how to apply the backwards writing rule here.
3. The golden question
The golden question is actually five questions in one. When you have to make a decision but you feel your emotions taking over, ask yourself:
How am I going to feel about this in:
- one day?
- one week?
- a month?
- one year?
- five years?
This question is extremely useful because by forcing yourself to “see the future” you are hacking your brain and changing the way it processes emotions.
Learn more about using the golden question here.
4. The 5-minute rule
Have you ever had a huge task in front of you and instead of working on it, you just sit and watch YouTube videos all morning? Yeah me too.
There’s a reason we’re doing this: the brain is so overwhelmed with the idea of doing this task that you avoid it at all costs.
In cases like these, you can use the five-minute rule: make a deal with yourself to work on a task for just five minutes. If you want to quit after that, no problem.
It works because the brain is “tricked” into seeing your big task as a small one. Of course, you usually end up working a lot longer than five minutes.
Learn more about the benefits of the five-minute rule here.
5. The rule of scoring
If you’re like me, you consider work a priority. But how do you balance that priority with even higher priorities, like your family or your mental health?
You can do this by learning to clock in: set working hours for each day, and at the end of the day, clock in. Treat it like an important date, one that I can’t miss.
Employers and employees who apply the Point Rule find a balance and build a more rewarding organizational culture based on balance.
Check out other ways to apply the scoring rule here.
6. The rule of writing
Have you ever asked a colleague a question, but when you ask, they just can’t keep up? As you try to explain, you realize that you haven’t fully given this idea a thought yourself.
After going through this enough times, I started to follow the “rule of writing”:
If you want to clarify your thinking, remember something important, or communicate something clearly, write it down.
The rule of writing has many benefits: it clarifies your thinking, improves memory and comprehension, and helps you communicate better.
Learn more about how to make the rule of writing work for you here.
7. The five-step rule against procrastination
If rule number five wasn’t enough to accomplish your task, try my Complete Method to Fight Procrastination.
This is the method I used to break the lifelong habit of procrastinating, not because I didn’t feel like working on it, but because I was so busy that I favored the urgent over the important. But following this method has helped me relieve stress and increase the quality of my work.
Learn more about how to apply the five-step method here.
8. The 3-question rule
Several years ago I was watching an interview with Craig Ferguson and he said something that immediately struck me in my memory:
There are three things you should always ask yourself before saying anything.
- Do you have to say it?
- Must we say it by me?
- Does this have to be said by me, now?
This awesome tool might sound simple, and it is. But I use it everyday and it has saved me countless times.
Learn more about the benefits of the 3-question rule here.
9. The rule of revaluation
Anytime you feel unproductive, stuck in a rut, or just scared of what’s to come, you need to remember the reevaluation rule:
Don’t focus on the way to go. Come back on the road traveled.
This simple change of perspective can turn frustration into contentment, anxiety into appreciation.
Learn more about how the evaluation rule can help you here.
10. First of all
I have a recurring nightmare. The circumstances of the dream change, but the basic problem remains the same:
I have too much to do and not enough time to do it.
Faced with this situation, I learned to follow the “first things first” rule. I narrow my to-do list down to just two or three items, max. Then I just focus on the first one and start to crop.
And the rule of ‘first things first‘ has a ton more benefits. You can read more about each of them here.
(If you find any value in these ten rules, you might be interested in the full Emotional Intelligence course – which includes lifetime access to each of these rules plus ten more, all gathered in one place. with an easy-to-follow format that helps you put the rules into practice. Check out the full course here.)