What business owners need today, perhaps more than ability or the right circumstances, is a strong emotional intelligence. And yet, emotional intelligence is only occasionally discussed in business. True, it is a more frequent topic of discussion, but not yet at the level it should be.
Studies from Harvard, Stanford and the Carnegie Foundation indicate that, “85-87% of our success accounts from soft skills, emotional intelligence, and personal skills,” but further studies show that, “we only pay attention to [these skills] 10% of the time.”
For something that the Harvard Business Review deemed as, “ground-breaking, paradigm-shifting,” and, “one of the most influential business ideas of the decade,” it may be time to give emotional intelligence more of our attention.
What does it mean to be emotionally intelligent?
When someone has a high emotional intelligence, they understand their emotions, and then are able to control them and express feelings adequately. They also have strong interpersonal relationships that they approach with sense, reason and empathy.
Business owners who work toward improving their emotional intelligence maintain a proactive outlook. Even when something doesn’t turn out the way they expect, they work towards a solution without letting stress get the best of them. Having greater emotional intelligence does not equate to an absence of stress, but rather a behavioral attitude that leads to greater resilience and mental stamina.
Travis Bradberry, the award-winning co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, in describing emotional intelligence says, “It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.” Unlike IQ, a fixed aptitude for learning, emotional intelligence can be improved over time.
If you haven’t caught on yet, emotional intelligence matters. Especially in business, it can predict your success more than any other important workplace skill.
Should you feel that your emotional intelligence needs some invigorating, here are 5 ways to boost it up:
Let Go of Past Mistakes
The more you hold on to the mistakes you’ve previously made, the harder it will be to take chances on future opportunities. This kind of behavior wears down your emotional intelligence and halts your business’s progression. Instead of focusing on solutions, you stay fixated on problems that have no present relevance.
Don’t let mistakes fester into uncontrollable obstacles; learn your lesson and move on. Tell yourself (every day if you need to) that it doesn’t matter where you are at, it matters where you are going. Give yourself permission to move forward rather than stay in the past. This goes for your own mistakes, as well as the mistakes others have made.
Take a Step Back when Necessary
Emotionally intelligent entrepreneurs recognize when a situation will trigger a negative response in them. They will either try to improve the situation or walk away from it until they are better prepared to think objectively and give a more positive reaction.
In some situations, you can’t simply step away for a moment. It may not be possible to reschedule a meeting or postpone a deadline. Prepare yourself for these situations by finding activities that calm your emotions and allow you to think clearly, even in stressful circumstances. The trick is balancing your schedule with these uplifting activities and potential stressors. For maximum self-growth and personal improvement, you can’t spend too much time in one zone or the other.
Not every opportunity is going to be the best investment. Business owners who cannot say “no” begin to take on too many projects and obligations. Their emotions become strained and they find their energy has burnt out when their business really needs them.
Bradberry says that learning to say no in some situations is key to improving business performance and emotional intelligence. It shows assertion and power, while also fostering honesty. Plus, it allows you to focus on the commitments you have already made and only take on ones that will benefit your business.
Patience is a key factor of emotional intelligence. We want instant gratification, rather than taking the longer route for a greater result. Ashley Zahabian, an emotional intelligence consultant, from her own experience notes that, “Anything that’s worth it takes time, and it takes effort…Anything that life says is good for you, there is a heavy price for it, and it’s dangerous when you don’t pay that price.”
Taking the easy road or seeking for shortcuts is never how successful businesses run. They don’t try to force a sale for an instant reward, they give the customer space and time. They don’t look for the quickest or easiest ways to make a buck, but accumulate greater wealth by researching the best investments. Their patience always pays off.
Speak your Opinion, but Think Before You Speak
Communication skills and emotional intelligence are intricately connected. Remember that a key element of emotional intelligence is that ability to form strong interpersonal relationships, something done through fine-tuned communication.
As you look to improve your emotional intelligence, look to improve how you communicate. Listen first so as to give a more empathetic response. Look to add your own opinions, not keep them bottled inside. But do so in a way that respects the other party. When both sides of a conversation understand the other, conflict resolution becomes much simpler. Keep in mind that you can’t control how others communicate, but don’t let this affect your own emotions.
Communicating effectively takes years of practice, but is not impossible. All of the above suggestions require repeated and consistent practice for them to have an impact on your emotional intelligence. However, your brain is wired to turn emotional responses into rational habits. Destructive emotional behavior is only eliminated, though, when positive emotionally intelligent actions are provided to replace it.