This year marks the 20th anniversary of writer and psychologist Daniel Goleman’s bestselling book Emotional Intelligence. Goleman's groundbreaking book, and other authors who have followed, discuss how traits such as empathy and self-awareness, when combined with intellect and technical skills, make a powerful combination often found in peak business performers.
Research has shown across a number of industries that professionals who possess a higher level of emotional intelligence - the ability to understand, control and evaluate emotions - demonstrate a higher level of business effectiveness. In fact, decades of research in this area has demonstrated that nearly 90 percent of star performers have high emotional intelligence. Check out our list below of five traits of emotionally intelligent people and see how you compare. Are there areas that you’d like to strengthen?
Based on research, emotional intelligent people …
Have empathy. Goleman defines three types of empathy: cognitive, emotional and empathetic. Cognitive empathy is the ability to see from and understand a customer’s point of view. Emotional empathy is feeling what your customer is feeling and empathetic empathy is the ability to sense your customer’s needs and meeting those needs. You can develop empathy by being a good listener and paying full attention to what your customer is saying. Having empathy for your customer or potential customer also helps to build trust in your relationship. For more tips on building trust, check out our earlier article.
Manage their emotions. Rarely do emotionally intelligent people act like hot heads. This is because they do not let emotions rule their actions. For example, when they are upset at someone, instead of blowing up at that person, they explain what is wrong and offer up solutions. They have resilience and can quickly recover after being upset at something or someone.
Feel comfortable with change. According to Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, “emotionally intelligent people are flexible and constantly adapting.” They plan ahead and don’t let the fear of having to change take away from their own personal happiness and success. They easily adapt to fluid situations and can figure out a solution when a new challenge arises.
Have self-awareness. Bradberry says that emotionally intelligent people have a realistic amount of confidence and are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They work within their abilities, capitalizing on what they are good at while minimizing what they are not. Because they are confident and know themselves well, it is hard to offend someone who is emotionally intelligent—they have thick skin and don’t take things personally.
Take time for self-care. Emotionally intelligent people rarely experience burnout since they know their own personal limits and can easily say no when needed. They take time off each day to disconnect from work and technology and follow healthy routines to stay in good health and keep stress at bay. They schedule vacations during the year and spend time on weekends doing things that bring them joy and give them a mental break. They know that when they are rested and healthy, they are more productive, creative and positive.