Emotional Intelligence: How to Develop It As An Entrepreneur

Emotional intelligence

Internationally known psychologist, Daniel Goleman, has become a legend in the realm of emotional intelligence (EQ). Though he wasn’t necessarily the first to say things about EQ, Goleman has worked tirelessly to shed light on its mechanics and applications.

Part of what makes his work incredible is that he took distinctively psychological ideas and made them readily applicable for those in the business and corporate world. Goleman deserves a thank you for this.

While the corporate world is a far cry away from being totally “emotionally intelligent,” there’s evidence of at least some progress. So, let’s take what we can get and keep the ball rolling.

What is emotional intelligence?

This question is complicated. There’s no complete way to answer this in the form of a blog. We’ll draw on Peter Salovey. Salovey is a Yale Psychologist who thought there were five main domains of emotional intelligence.

These five domains taken together offer us a basic understanding of what emotional intelligence is. Without further ado, here’s the first.

1. Knowing One’s Emotions

This idea is about being able to identify our emotions and feelings from one moment to the next, it’s the capacity to monitor what’s going on in us. You can call this self awareness, Goleman says this about it:

“An inability to notice our true feelings leaves us at their mercy.”

Excerpt From: Daniel Goleman. “Emotional Intelligence.”

2. Managing Emotions

Knowing what we’re feeling in a given moment is only half the battle. Managing emotions is about responding appropriately to them. In the case of anxiety or anger, it’s the capacity to calm yourself down.

3. Motivating Oneself

Motivating oneself is about organizing your emotions in way that serves your broader goals. There may be times when you’ve got a strong desire to move in a certain direction or you are lacking that drive.

Motivating yourself is about harnessing your emotions in a way that moves your towards your desired ends.

4. Recognizing Emotions in Others

Recognizing emotions in others is highly related to the notion of empathy. If you’re great at empathy, you’re great at attuning to the emotions and feelings of others. More, this attunement to others and social cues informs your reactions. You can see how this domain is crucial for professional life.

5. Handling Relationships

How are you at handling and responding to the feelings of emotions in others? Does the sadness or lack of motivation in others on your team, for example, frustrate you or lead you to anger-based responses?

This final domain is essential to the emotionally intelligent. They can spot the true needs of others, find appropriate and adaptive ways to respond.

These are the five broad domains of EQ. At the core of the picture is self awareness. Without it, you’re not going to move very far. Here’s a word on why EQ matters for entrepreneurs and a couple tips on how to develop it.

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Matters for Entrepreneurs and How To Develop It

At the center of every entrepreneur is a desire for concrete change. Entrepreneurs are led by an unquenchable thirst for a better, more efficient world. Entrepreneurs are often referred to as change-makers for this reason. If not for them, our world would be far from the way it currently is.

However, positive, forward-moving change always depends on people. Things rarely tend naturally towards improvement; improvement needs care and attention. Entrepreneurialism, then, is inextricably related to people—motivating them, and helping them to change and adapt.

If you’re not aware of the needs of others, where they’re at emotionally in a given situation, or where you are emotionally in a given situation, such change will be a distant reality.

People change when they feel cared for, seen, and attended to. Therefore, it seems clear that entrepreneurs should take EQ very seriously.

Your efforts as an entrepreneur will always be limited to the degree that your emotional intelligence is limited.

Tips For Developing Emotional Intelligence As An Entrepreneur

Find concrete ways to increase your self awareness.

What in your day to day activity increases your self awareness? What do you do that genuinely helps you “know thyself”? Developing EQ requires that you find ways to increase your self awareness.

Therapy, counseling, life coaching, mentorship, close friendships with self-aware people—these are all great ways to being increasing your self awareness. Also, start getting curious with yourself.

It even identifies if you are going through imposter syndrome

Take an EQ inventory with your team.

Next, do an inventory. Want to grow in your self awareness, emotional management, motivational techniques, emotional recognition and relationship handling? Ask your team how you score in each of these categories.

For example, here are questions you can ask your team for each category:

  • How self aware do I seem?
  • Do I seem in control of my emotions or led by them?
  • Do you feel like I can tell what you’re feeling?
  • Am I good at empathizing with you?
  • Does it seem like I’m responsive to your needs?

Doing an inventory with your team will jumpstart your EQ development. Yes, it feels intensely scare to ask your team these questions about yourself. In case someone has told you, developing EQ is not the faint of heart. It’s an extremely challenging task that requires legitimate courage.

Last tip.

Read about emotional intelligence.

You can’t expect to grow in an area you know little or nothing about. A great start would be Daniel Goleman’s now classic, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Throughout this read, you’ll see Goleman make reference to others doing the same kind of work. Try and read their work to.

Additionally, keep this in mind. No amount of reading alone is sufficient for developing emotional intelligence. The real development happens in those difficult moments no one else sees when you’re processing who you are and why you are the way you are. That’s where the dividends live.

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