What qualities make a good leader? If you flash back to a great manager you had in the past, (or the one you have now!), you can likely identify the traits that made your office a pleasant place to work. Aside from the obvious knowledge, training, and experience in his or her respected field or industry, there are plenty of soft skills that seem to be present in bosses we particularly admire and with whom we enjoy working.

The term “emotional intelligence” has only been around since the 90s, but what it characterizes has been around for centuries. It describes the ability to understand, express, and utilize your emotions in positive ways to benefit those around you through compelling communication, empathy, overcoming challenges, and resolving conflict. As in every aspect of life, one’s emotional intelligence influences leadership style and its efficacy. Here are some ways to improve yours:

Be Open with Feelings

Don’t be afraid to ask, “How are you feeling today?” and be willing to answer when the question is asked of you. When we’re open with others, it’s easy for them to be open with us. If you face a certain challenge or are struggling with something, don’t be too proud to share it with your coworkers. Even if they don’t face the same battles at the moment, it opens the door to meaningful conversations when you do.

Be Generous with Feedback

Real-time feedback often eliminates miscommunication and confusion down the road. If someone knows immediately after a project how well she did or any changes that need to be made, she’s more likely to appreciate it. On the flipside, don’t hesitate to ask for feedback as well. Just as you’d like someone to receive your evaluation with an open mind, make sure to open yours to theirs.

Be Slow to Judgment

We all work differently, integrating our experiences and viewpoints into our professional lives. If someone handles a situation differently than you might or reaches another conclusion than you did, be genuinely interested and inquisitive about their process. Part of a cohesive working environment means incorporating the ideas of others into the task at hand.

Truly effective leaders possess the self-awareness of how their emotions and actions influence an office environment. Employee satisfaction is often a good indicator of a company’s bottom line. When we better relate to the ones with whom we spend nearly 1/3 of our life, not only are we more successful leaders, but we inspire success in our coworkers as well.