Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, has become a bit of a buzzword lately. It’s been in the news as a skill that all great bosses and leaders have, and as something we should focus on teaching our children for their future success.
So what exactly is Emotional Intelligence? Why is it so important for business leaders and managers to develop? And if it’s so important, how can you improve your EQ?
Emotional Intelligence: A definition
Simply put, emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to discern emotions and feelings and to use that information in decision making. Emotional intelligence applies to both your own feelings and the feelings of those around you. Emotional intelligence calls into use skills such as sympathy, empathy and compassion.
Why Emotional Intelligence matters in business
In your personal life, it can be obvious why your emotional intelligence matters. It can help you be a better spouse, friend and parent. Emotional intelligence also has been identified as an important business trait.
You’ve probably observed that not all of your employees respond in the same way to the same message. Or you’ve noticed that a pitch that worked with one client didn’t appeal to another. When you’re tuned in to how people react to your message, you’re able to tailor that message to each person.
Emotional intelligence also impacts your own behavior. People with high EQs are able to identify and control their own emotions. They stay calm in stressful situations to make rational decisions because they recognize but aren’t ruled by their emotions. People with high EQs know when to trust their “gut instincts” because they’re tuned into their own emotions and are able to focus on getting the outcomes they want in a given situation.
How to improve your EQ
While a person’s emotional intelligence is relatively fixed due to early life experience, and even genetics, it is possible to improve your EQ to improve your business and personal success. The first step to improving your emotional intelligence is to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. That can be done through EQ tests, personality tests, workplace feedback or just focusing on others’ reactions to you and being honest with yourself about emotionally driven situations in which you succeed or fail.
There are a few simple things you can do to improve your EQ:
- Practice awareness. Pay attention to how you’re feeling in situations and how others are reacting to you. Be aware of how your emotions impact your behavior.
- Practice empathy. When you’re aware of others’ emotions and your own, try to understand what is triggering those emotions.
- Respond, instead of reacting. When faced with a problem, acknowledge your emotions and respond in a way that will help you reach your desired outcome, rather than with your initial emotional reactions.
- Consider coaching. One of the most reliable ways to improve your EQ is through coaching. Coaching is particularly effective at improving interpersonal skills and decreasing stress.
- Be patient. Know that improving your EQ is a process that requires discipline and time! In fact, EQ tends to improve naturally with age and experience.