Psychology Today defines emotional intelligence as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” The concept has three distinct components:
1. Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;
2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving;
3. The ability to manage emotions, including regulating your own emotions, and cheering up or calming down another person.
Marc Brackett, a senior research scientist in psychology at Yale University, believes that emotional intelligence is a critical aspect of learning. “Something we now know, from doing dozens of studies, is that emotions can either enhance or hinder your ability to learn. They affect our attention and our memory.”
If emotional intelligence can affect your ability to learn, imagine its impact on your success in business. Think about the built-in nuances of every business transaction. How could having greater emotional intelligence serve you? If you want to increase your success in business, cultivate emotional intelligence.
1. Become emotionally aware. Are you receptive to your emotions? Most people aren’t. However, the first step to increasing emotional intelligence is to identify your emotions. When emotions arise, identify them and ask “Why am I feeling this way?” “Is it appropriate given the circumstances?” Although it’s believed that rational decision making yields the best results, emotions often trump the rational mind. Even in business, people often make decisions based on emotional attachments to ideas, past experiences, and perceived outcomes. Therefore, becoming more emotionally aware and understanding how your emotions fit into the big business picture are critical to evaluating your thinking and performance and ultimately lead to achieving greater success.
In addition to identifying your own emotions, the ability to identify the emotions of others is a vital skill. Understanding how emotions can influence the interpersonal interactions and decisions of others can help you become a more effective leader and negotiator; it can also enhance your professional relationships.
2. Harness your emotions. Do you have access to your emotions when you need them? You should. Harnessing your emotions for brainstorming and problem solving can help you exert an even greater influence on everything you do in business. Emotions can be like high-octane fuel for your brain and nervous system. They can power your success. So use your emotions constructively — to enhance your input, output, planning, evaluation, collaboration, and every element that affects the beginning, middle, and bottom line in business.
Additionally, your ability to connect, on a visceral level, to the reasons why you do what you do in business is imperative to both short-term and long-term success. Such insight can pave the way for better overall decision making and provide the inspiration to expand your expectations of what’s possible.
3. Manage your emotions. It’s one thing to identify your emotions and another to access them on demand. However, the million dollar question is whether you can manage them. This includes regulating your own emotions, as well as positively influencing the emotional state of others. Prioritize these activities by practicing them daily, as they will affect your ability to lead (and others to follow), especially in business.
Regulating your emotions, like regulating your behavior, is not an easy task. But it pays huge dividends. By exercising discipline and empathy for others, you will increase your success exponentially.
With continued focus, emotional intelligence can become second nature. Why not guarantee your success by becoming more emotionally aware, harnessing your emotions, and managing them, too.
To your success!
Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her website, WordSmithRapport.com.