It feels like you can’t turn a page in Entrepreneur or click on an unassuming Huffington Post article without someone singing the praises of emotional intelligence. So what’s the deal? How does emotional intelligence play a part in the workplace and why should it matter for your small business?
First, let’s define EQ.
Emotional intelligence is an individual’s ability to perceive, identify and manage his or her emotions. The higher your EQ, the better you are able to manage and navigate your personal behavior and your relationships—both of which play a huge part in your professional life.
How do you know if you have high or healthy EQ?
Here are three sure-tell signs:
You are aware of your personal strengths and weaknesses
Emotional intelligence begins with being honest with yourself about who you are. It means you understand how to operate out of your strengths and how to function well within the framework of your shortcomings.
You know how to pay attention to what’s important
An ability to lay aside distractions and focus on the task at hand is a good indicator of high emotional intelligence. If you possess this trait, you are able to prioritize tasks well, see projects through to completion and be fully present with whatever is right in front of you.
You understand your emotions—and deal with them
If you have high EQ, you tend to deal with your emotions in a healthy way by both recognizing their origin and addressing the issue head-on. Conversely, those with low EQ hide their emotions under the proverbial rug, often making issues worse than they need to be.
So does EQ matter for a small business?
The way you manage stress, resolve conflict among teammates, make business decisions and navigate the complexities of maintaining a healthy work/life balance as an entrepreneur are all affected by your emotional intelligence. EQ plays a role in your small business because business is all about relationships—from the customers to employees—and how you manage, perceive and respond to those relationships. EQ is about your personal outlook on life and how well you manage the stressors of your external environment.
EQ at its most basic level is self-awareness. Being out of sync with your emotions or lacking self-awareness will affect your employees’ satisfaction in their jobs, your customers’ satisfaction in your service or product and your satisfaction in your work.
People with strong EQ excel in entrepreneurial environments because they excel in teamwork, in self-motivation and in resilience to external pressures or changes. They are curious about people, which leads them to create better products. They embrace change, which leads them to pivot aspects of their business model that might not be working. They are a good judge of character, which leads them to hire the best people. They let go of mistakes and failures. They don’t seek perfection. And they find their joy within themselves, not in the approval or disapproval of the masses.
So does EQ matter to small business owners?
Yeah. We’d say it does.
Interested in learning what your EQ is? Try this free online assessment.
Laura Walton is a freelance writer and contributor for StreetShares. She is passionate about all things social media and public relations as they relate to the topics of small business and entrepreneurship. You can find her on Twitter at @lk_dubs.