Do you ever feel that business as a whole can be hostile? Maybe you have a boss that doesn't appreciate you. Or a client that treats you like dirt.
No matter what your place is on the career ladder, I bet you've felt misunderstood somewhere in your career. Every day people feel left out, unappreciated and mistreated at work. And consequently, they suffer.
Let's face it. Business is not always fun. Some might argue "that's just the way it is."
But I think we can easily improve the business landscape by getting better at one thing: Emotional intelligence.
Everyone has heard of it. But what is it? How do you get better at it? And how can you use it to get better at business?
Emotional intelligence (EI) is a term that's been popularized by John Mayer, from the University of New Hampshire, and Yale's Peter Salovey.
Mayer describes EI (also called EQ) as follows:
"Emotional intelligence, as we described it, is the capacity to reason about emotions and emotional information, and of emotions to enhance thought. People with high EI, we believed, could solve a variety of emotion-related problems accurately and quickly."
In today's economy, solving emotion-related problems is critical. At work, we deal with complex problems. And we often have to work together to find solutions.
Success in business is not about SAT scores, IQ tests or any other grade-based metrics. It's about making an impact as a leader.
And If you want to achieve meaningful things, you must be able to work with other people. From that perspective, EI is the key skill that will bring you better results and more success.
Research shows that EI is also related to greater mental health. So it's not only a skill that influences your business results, but it also impacts your own happiness.
EI describes a person's capacity to identify emotions. Not only other people's emotions, but also your own emotions. In fact, I believe that you have to start with identifying your own emotions before you can lead others. So EI is very closely related to self-knowledge.
And that's exactly why EI is an important predictor of success in life and business. It goes like this:
- High EI leads to greater self-knowledge.
- And better self-knowledge leads to more happiness.
- And more happiness means higher job satisfaction.
- Higher job satisfaction leads to better results.
- Better results lead to more acknowledgment.
- Acknowledgement for our work makes us feel important.
- Again, that improves happiness, results, etc.
You see? EI matters. And after reading and talking a lot about it, I want to share how I improved my EI in 3 steps.
Daniel Goleman, another EI pioneer, and the author of "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ," argues that we have two minds. He says:
"In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels."
To develop my mind that feels, I like to write about my daily emotions in my journal. If you don't journal, start doing it for the sake of EI. The first step is to identify how you feel and what triggers your emotions. Don't worry about why. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- What are you feeling in different situations?
- Do you get angry when you get criticism?
- Do you get sad when people ignore you?
- Do you freeze when you're put on the spot?
Once you have a better picture of how you respond to different situations in life, it's time to understand them. Think about these things:
- When you're angry, how do you respond to people?
- And what you do think about that?
- Why do you even get upset, sad, happy, angry, etc., in the first place?
- Don't judge and say, "I'm such a fool." No, it's all about understanding your emotions. Nothing more. Nothing less.
This is a big part of succeeding in business. A leader doesn't go with the flow or follows the energy of a group. A leader SETS the mood. But before you can set the mood in groups, you must master setting your internal mood. Answer yourself:
- Can you snap out of a sad mood?
- Can you cheer yourself up?
- Can you slow yourself down when you're too excited?
- If not, work on it. Because you must have control over your emotions to manage them.
I've applied the above 3-step method to improve my ability to identify my own emotions.
What you will find is this: When you can identify your own emotions, you will also get better at identifying other people's emotions. And that's exactly what EI means.
This is a huge cliché. We are all truly the same, especially if you look beyond the emotional wall most of us put up.
We all experience sadness, happiness, anger, guilt, fear, disappointment. But you have to recognize that.
Too often, we just go on with life not realizing that we have those emotions ourselves. When we do that, we will never become a leader.
More importantly: We won't develop self-awareness. And therefore, we can't get the most out of our life.
A real leader knows the emotions of another person better than the person himself. But it all starts with knowing yourself first.
Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook!
Video by Nate Skid