When was the last time you did inventory? No, not on whatever product you might be selling. Inventory of your emotional intelligence.
People with high levels of emotional intelligence do better in life and in business, and since it’s something you can train for and improve on, you’ll want to give yourself a little EQ checkup every now and then so you know which areas you can stand to improve.
Why should you care about your EQ?
People with a higher EQ, or emotional quotient, make an average of $29,000 more per year than people with a low EQ. For every point you bring your EQ up, you can expect to make a thousand dollars more per year. But even if money isn’t your main motivating factor, you still can benefit greatly from higher emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence gives you the ability to learn from your mistakes instead of blaming your circumstances. Emotional intelligence gives you the ability to know your personal strengths and weaknesses. Emotional intelligence means you can think before you act, put yourself in another person’s shoes, and are able to collaborate with a group or understand the needs of clients. It’s no wonder employers are looking out for these skills in job interviews these days.
Your IQ is pretty much set for life, but your EQ can grow or shrink depending on how you nurture or ignore it. These are the soft skills you keep hearing that interviewers are looking for. This is what gives people like Ursula Burns, Jeff Bezos, and Oprah Winfrey the cutting edge in business. Ever hear of “Oprahfication”? That’s Oprah Winfrey’s innate talent for getting people to open up, a talent upon which she has built her entire career.
What, exactly, is emotional intelligence?
So what traits are endemic to emotional intelligence? Self-awareness gives you the ability to understand your personal strengths and weaknesses. Self-regulation allows you to think your actions through before committing to them.
Motivation is what drives you for either the right or the wrong reasons. Empathy allows you to navigate the needs of others, whether those others are on your team or whether they are clients. Social skills make it easier for others to work with you.
You can sharpen your emotional intelligence with practice
So how do you sharpen your emotional intelligence skills? Start by practicing empathy whenever you feel yourself entering a disagreement – put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to see things from their point of view.
When you make mistakes, take the time to examine what went wrong so you can do better next time. Stop and think before making decisions so you don’t end up making poor decisions on a regular basis. Examine what motivates you and be sure you are motivated by something you care about, not money and power.
Business leaders use emotional intelligence to win at business
There are plenty of business leaders who believe their success is based on their emotional intelligence. The business value of emotional intelligence is often overlooked or even just downplayed, and the ways in which business leaders leverage emotional intelligence to be successful in business vary. Here are some tips from actual business leaders:
- Instead of waiting to speak, listen to what the other person is saying. Clients are people who want to be understood.
- Having self-awareness allows you to understand your strengths and weaknesses better so you can give credit to the folks on your team who bridge the gap.
- Understanding your emotions helps you to understand others better.
- Emotional intelligence helps you to build a better team because you understand the needs and personalities of each individual on your team.
- Your emotions can affect those around you, so make sure you are projecting the right vibes.
- Don’t settle for anything less than your best.
- Use your emotional intelligence to dig deeper into raw data and make better informed business decisions.
- Don’t try to separate your business self from your personal self – make sure they mesh together so you are seen as more authentic.
- Use empathy to strengthen human connections.
- Empathize with employees to help them achieve their full potential.
- Empathize with customers to help them navigate transitions with less stress.
- Empathy goes a long way in managing business expectations.
Using your emotional intelligence can help you build stronger relationships with clients and coworkers. Stronger client and coworker relationships can build stronger careers and businesses. Happy clients keep coming back and they refer their friends.
Strong workplace relationships lead to higher quality work. If you’re ready to take your career or your business to the next level, take the advice of business leaders and start working on your emotional intelligence. It’s never too late to achieve a higher EQ, and it can help you not only in your professional life but in your personal life as well.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.