What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to perceive, understand and manage their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. This insight and awareness can help you connect and communicate with others more effectively. It can also help you foster better relationships in the workplace, as you’ll be more likely to anticipate the needs of others. For example, emotional intelligence can help you respond appropriately in certain business scenarios, such as giving employees advice and receiving customer feedback.
Business owners who are able to harness emotional intelligence can communicate in a way that makes both parties feel understood and validated. In addition to helping you respond to others’ needs, emotional intelligence helps you regulate your own emotions so you can better handle stressful situations, such as meeting tight deadlines and dealing with company finances.
Bottom Line: Having emotional intelligence as a business owner can help you better understand your employees, customers, and partners, propelling your success in all areas.
How does emotional intelligence predict success?
There are several ways emotional intelligence can predict a person’s success. Consider these five points.
Self-management allows flexibility and positivity.
Using emotional intelligence means managing your emotional response to situations so you stay flexible and positive as issues arise. People with poor self-management skills underperform in the workplace and often have problems with motivation and adapting to new circumstances.
“It’s important to consider the emotional intelligence of your team before launching a business,” said a spokesperson for Inc Authority, a free resource for business owners. “If your team members are lacking in this area, it’s important to work on improving these skills just as you would any other business skill.”
Those who are self-starters and adaptable are more likely to succeed, regardless of the circumstances.
Self-awareness and empathy foster relationships.
To foster better relationships in business, strengthen your self-awareness, a key aspect of emotional intelligence. Self-awareness is the ability to identify your own emotions and recognize how they can affect thoughts and behavior. If you’re feeling dissatisfied with your job, self-awareness can help you figure out why you are experiencing these emotions and what actions you can take to improve the situation.
In addition to self-awareness, empathy is essential. Empathy is the ability to connect with others on an emotional level while taking their thoughts and feelings into consideration. Empathy can make people feel welcome and understood in the workplace. By allowing others to contribute their point of view, you can create a diverse and unique team that is able to find new ways to problem-solve and move forward, making your company more successful. [Read related article: What Does It Take to Be a Good People Manager?]
Motivation comes from an internal drive.
Motivation is the driving force behind intentional action. Having the awareness to check in with ourselves when faced with setbacks or obstacles is a sign of emotional intelligence. This also helps you connect with your motives, which inspires you to continue moving forward in new ways. If you’re aware of your passions and how to channel them in business, you’ll feel more inspired to deliver quality work.
People with low motivation often do not have that same self-awareness, which causes them to give up much easier than those who do. When you connect with what drives you to keep pushing forward, that allows you to improve your skills and monitor your progress. That sets you on the path toward personal and professional success.
Higher emotional intelligence is linked with the ability to concentrate.
With so many distractions everywhere you turn, your ability to concentrate and pay attention to details is paramount if you want to run a successful business. It is difficult to make connections in your mind and pay attention if you are constantly distracted, which is typically linked with lower emotional intelligence. Those with a higher emotional intelligence usually have a greater ability to concentrate, even in less-than-ideal circumstances. If you can block out literal or figurative noise and focus on the task at hand, you will be more productive and, thus, more successful.
Collaborating with customers and making personal connections is critical.
Practical skills are definitely useful when operating a company, but the ability to reach your target customer is central to success in an internet-dominated business world. Collaborating and connecting with customers are sure signs of emotionally intelligent business people. A business that takes the time to establish relationships with clients will find greater success. Emotional intelligence means looking beyond just the product and into the social aspect of business. This will help you build customer loyalty.
Bottom Line: There are many benefits to developing your emotional intelligence in business, from improving your professional relationships to motivating your employees.
How do you measure emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is a combination of self-awareness, empathy and social skills. When you’re finding the right people for your team, you should gauge each candidate’s emotional intelligence as one of the first steps in determining whether or not they’re a good fit for your company.
Measuring someone’s emotional intelligence is a mix of careful observation and asking the right questions. Notice whether they seem defensive or open, if they’re able to keep their ego in check, and if they seem to be aware of other people’s emotions. Here are a few common interview questions to assess someone’s emotional intelligence:
- What bothers you most about other people?
- Who do you look up to and why?
- What kind of people do you like to work with and why?
Someone could answer these questions dishonestly, but if you pay attention to how they respond, you can generally pick up on whether they’re adept at keeping their emotions in check and able to empathize with others. Asking the right questions can tell you most of what you need to know about whether someone will be a team player or a burden to your company culture. [Ask these questions to screen candidates in phone interviews.]
“Most employers and startups go wrong by assuming that intelligence and hard skills are what make or break a business,” said Alex Konanykhin, founder and CEO of TransparentBusiness. “In reality, choosing people who are emotionally intelligent, willing to work on themselves and able to relate to others is a major component in building a successful business and workplace environment. Just like hard skills, emotional intelligence is something that can very much be measured and built upon.”
FYI: In addition to emotional intelligence, your company board needs diversity. Emotionally intelligent, diverse people in key roles will make your business more well rounded.
How do you boost emotional intelligence?
Business success isn’t always determined by what you say or do, but by how you do it. Odds are you probably know someone (or you might be someone) who is considered an expert or genius in their field, but can’t seem to reach any real level of success.
If this happens to you, it’s probably time to work on becoming more emotionally intelligent and developing your social skills. Not only will it help you relate to your team better, but equally as important, it will also help you understand the true needs of your customers so you can relate to them on a more personal level.
Here are a few tricks for boosting your emotional intelligence:
- Practice self-awareness and observation. The first step to becoming more emotionally intelligent is to understand how you feel, why you feel it, and how you might respond to your feelings in a more productive manner. Once you recognize your behaviors, you can choose to change them if necessary.
- Consider whether you’re reacting or responding. Pay attention to whether you react to situations or respond to situations. When you react to the world around you, you often end up making decisions that aren’t the best choice. When you slow down and consciously decide how to respond, the result is usually better for everyone involved.
- Don’t allow yourself to be stuck in adversity. Sometimes at work and in your personal life, the going gets tough. Do you bounce back from adversity or let it keep you down? Next time you’re faced with a difficult situation in business or at home, ask yourself what lessons you can learn and figure out the best path for changing your situation instead of letting it hold you back.
- Find a mentor. Sometimes the best thing you can do to improve your emotional intelligence is surround yourself with emotionally intelligent people who consistently make good decisions and conscious choices. You become the five people you spend the most time with, so choose wisely – and learn from them. [Learn more about tips for young entrepreneurs.]
Working on the way you respond to the world and others is the first step in building a life and business that runs smoothly. While others are busy learning new tricks of the trade, the time you spend investing in your emotional intelligence will pay off significantly.>
Sean Peek contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.