Published on May 14th, 2020 | by Nancy F. Clark0
5 Simple Ways To Build The Most Critical Skill For Career Success
By Renee Goyeneche—
Studies show that regardless of industry, top business leaders share certain traits. They have strong intellectual capabilities and show professional expertise. They’re able to solve problems, analyze issues and push for results. They’re professional relationship builders and highly effective communicators.
This “formula for success” calls for both hard and soft skills, but evidence now suggests there is one specific soft skill that serves as the lynchpin: emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence—sometimes referred to as emotional quotient or EQ—is the ability to recognize and manage both your own and other’s emotions, and then use that information to problem-solve. In business, that translates to an ability to build strong relationships, resolve conflict effectively and motivate and inspire others.
Employers are so interested in this skill that researchers at the Universities of Geneva (UNIGE) and Berne (UNIBE), Switzerland, have created an emotional intelligence test for hiring managers that measures a job candidate’s competencies. They’ve also proven that those who score higher on the test have more career success. In fact, data indicates that emotional intelligence is the number one predictor of performance.
Hiring someone with a high EQ score can mean a significant long-term advantage for employers. Research from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) found the most common cause of failure at the executive level stems from deficiencies in emotional competence. People who struggle with emotional intelligence have more difficulty handling change, are less able to work well in a team and exhibit poor interpersonal relations. In a nutshell, people can make it to the top based on a hard skill set, but often fail to stay there because they’re lacking emotional intelligence.
A certain amount of EQ can be categorized as innate; some people are just naturally more sensitive to the emotional states of others. If it’s not your forte, don’t fret. Emotional intelligence improves with age and experience, meaning this skill can be taught—and learned.
Here are the 5 most effective ways to build and demonstrate your emotional intelligence:
1. Practice Self-Awareness. If you’re prone to knee-jerk reactions, take time to assess your emotions objectively and rationally before formulating a response. Does it make sense to pursue the course of action you’re considering? When we manage our own feelings efficiently, we become more resilient and less likely to succumb to stress and errors in judgement. Taking a little extra time to check in with yourself allows you to respond appropriately and make more informed decisions.
2. Consider the nature of communication. Good communication requires dialogue. Convey your opinions and expectations in a straightforward manner to avoid misunderstandings and respond to feedback thoughtfully and respectfully. Pay close attention to nonverbal cues. If someone is confused or unhappy, it may be more obvious in their body language than in their words. Statistics suggest that the primary emotional content of an interaction is conveyed through nonlinguistic means.
3. Be approachable. People with a high EQ understand that engaging first—and frequently— reaps serious benefits. This proactive approach serves two purposes; first, it allows you to be “in the trenches” working to stay in touch with real-time issues. Second, it shows you encourage an exchange of ideas and support an atmosphere where everyone’s contributions are appreciated and respected. When others feel valued, you’re much more likely to draw out the talents that deliver their best work.
4. Lead by example. Monitor both your own perspective, and that of your team. Don’t allow yourself to be influenced by negativity. When challenges occur, as they always do, lead by being motivated and resilient, rather than unhappy and reactive. If you make a mistake, admit to it. You’ll earn respect and cultivate an environment that encourages others to help catch minor missteps before they blow up into major problems. Having high standards for yourself sets an example for others to follow.
5. Learn to take constructive criticism well. No criticism feels great, but you can choose to make it work for you. Try to understand where a critique is coming from and learn how to accept it without becoming defensive. Negative feedback can be a valuable tool that lends insight into errors that affect your own performance and that of others. Resist the urge to go on the offensive, let go of your ego, and use that information to resolve workplace issues.
The desire to improve your emotional intelligence goes a long way toward increasing it, and you can implement the steps outlined here on your own. If you’re searching for a more targeted and concrete way to demonstrate your commitment to building this skill, however, there are also workshops and online courses available.
Featured photo: iStock-monkeybusinessimages