It’s already well-known that book smarts can help you in business, but did you know your emotional intelligence may be just as vital to your success? Sheer charisma has catapulted more than one aspiring mogul to entrepreneurial success—just ask Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, or Jeff Bezos. That’s not to say that all (or, for that matter, any) of these people are necessarily good people. Nonetheless, they each have a certain mystique that acts like a magnet for success. It might be their way with the people around them, the way they carry themselves, or both. Any such outer signifiers can be reflective of a high emotional intelligence, or EQ.
Is There a Link Between EQ and Success?
It may not surprise you to learn that emotional skills are actually critical to success in business. EQ is what allows us to communicate knowledge effectively—in essence, it helps us share with others what our IQ provides for ourselves. Since teamwork is at the core of any successful group of professionals, this ability can provide a major edge. In fact, research indicates that 90 percent of all “top performers” have a high EQ.
So, how can you make the most of your EQ when it comes to growing your business? Here are a few of the most effective ways:
1. Focus on the Positive
Worried about the outcome of a project? Hung up on a relatively minor inconvenience? Those negative emotions you’re feeding could be lowering your EQ (and impairing that of your peers or employees). Try not to assume the worst in every situation. It can certainly pay to be aware of risks, but you should treat them like challenges and throw yourself into the process of planning for them with enthusiasm. Things almost never turn out as badly as they do in your head—but you can create an unfortunate self-fulfilling prophecy by focusing on the negative to the point where you miss out on good opportunities.
2. Manage Your Stress
Stress comes hand in hand with running a business, but it can also paralyze you if you don’t know how to keep it under control. Great leaders are those who can remain composed and capable in stressful situations. If you’re having trouble controlling your stress mentally, try some physical stimulus. Several studies show that exercise helps reduce stress, and one study from Italy suggests that lowering your body temperature can help you deal with stress as well.
3. Be Proactive, Not Reactive
We tend to let ourselves get caught up in the energy of the people around us. When those people are negative, it can quickly shatter our composure and cause us to respond in kind. The way to break free of that negativity is by choosing not to react to it. Instead, try to bring your positive energy to the situation by proposing a bright new direction for the group to pursue. Taking the high road can help you avoid workplace arguments—and the best news of all is that positivity tends to be as infectious as negative energy. When you set a good example, it could actually help a negative co-worker break out of their funk.
4. Learn from Your Failures
Failure can be disheartening, but it can also be an excellent teacher. In the words of Thomas Edison, who tried unsuccessfully to invent the light bulb many times before he finally had his famous breakthrough: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” The more you know about what not to do, the better off you’ll be in the future. So don’t let a setback or two get you down—treat everything that happens to you as a lesson and you’ll always be making yourself (and your business) stronger, even if it doesn’t always seem that way.
5. Be (Appropriately) Assertive
Being positive doesn’t mean being dishonest. If you have reservations about an idea, it’s usually best to express them. The trick is to do so in a way that keeps the people around you excited about working with you to find a solution. Try stating the way you feel in an objective way, and finish by proposing a solution. Take care not to sound judgmental—after all, you’re here to help your co-workers, not bully them.
Good judgment, diplomacy, and listening skills will take you just as far as a strong head for stats and an impressive vocabulary—in fact, they may even be more useful in certain cases. Use what you’ve learned here about emotional intelligence to make your business dealings smoother, and look forward to even greater success.