How you handle high levels of stress can mean the difference between being assertive and poised or being negative and disgruntled.1
You’ve heard it before: Emotional Intelligence is the newest predictor of highly successful people. They’re emotionally balanced, in tune with their gut, and have the innate ability to listen, empathize, creatively solve problems, and basically take over the world.
Where does that leave those of us who didn’t seem to inherit the discipline to effectively manage stress, the sunny personality that radiates positivity and the restraint to pause before speaking in stressful situations? Well the good news is, like IQ, EQ can be built over time with daily practice.
We asked the Young Entrepreneur Council, “What is an everyday practice you can use to hone your emotional intelligence?” Practice their 15 daily routines to heighten your EQ:
1. Give gratitude.
The most effective way to cultivate positivity in your organization is to acknowledge and reward the behaviors you want. I’ve found that showing gratitude every day has been a game-changer. It helps me recognize, analyze and appreciate the good in my life, which includes the people in my life and the things they do.
—Cody McKibben, Thrilling Heroics
2. Manage your stress.
A cool head makes better decisions and can help you listen better to your team. How you handle high levels of stress can mean the difference between being assertive and poised or being negative and disgruntled. Staying in control of your emotions during stressful situations helps you focus on what’s important.
—Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
3. Communicate with awareness.
Emotional intelligence is particularly important when pitching a proposal. You need to be able to read people and understand which techniques relax them and which ones alienate them. When I pitch, I’m purposefully aware of their body language and tone of voice, which helps me be aware of emotional signs.
—Adam Steele, The Magistrate
4. Give back.
You can hone your emotional intelligence by joining an organization outside of the workplace that seeks to do good in exchange for nothing. Leaving the business world behind to help others opens your eyes to the everyday struggles of other people, which can make you a more empathetic, rounded person. These qualities will then be appreciated by those who work with you.
—Marvin Amberg, Caseable
5. Reflect on your day.
At the end of the day, reflecting for even a few minutes will give you clarity. Details can easily be convoluted by time, so making a point to reflect daily on your interactions will allow you to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. It’s easiest to be honest with yourself while still “in the moment.”
—Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports, LLC
6. Observe those around you.
Everyone is different. Strong emotional intelligence and healthy, lasting relationships are formed by knowing how to best engage each person. When you understand their motivations and reactions from conversations with you or others, you can better understand how to foster relationships with them.
—Carlo Cisco, SELECT
7. Encourage criticism.
To be emotionally brilliant, you have to be able to find feedback valuable, even if it’s negative. Otherwise you’ll end up with a team of “yes men” (or women) and a failing business. The best ideas often come from the most unlikely places. But it can’t happen if you shut your door to criticism.
—Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital
8. Be honest with yourself.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately identify feelings and emotions, and then put them to use. When you’re interacting with someone, ask yourself, What am I feeling right now? What emotions is this person displaying? Begin this practice by reflecting on one conversation every day and journal the answers to form a habit.
—Brian Smith, S Brian Smith Group
9. Breathe before you speak.
This is lesson No. 55 in Richard Carlson’s book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Carlson instructs readers to always stop and take at least one breath before responding to someone. This simple, short pause allows you to really process what they’re saying and show you’re listening. It will also change the pace of the discussion and allow both of you to connect.
—Neil Thanedar, LabDoor
10. Exercise routinely.
I like to start my day by exercising in the morning. Set aside at least 30 minutes to do cardio, yoga, run, lift weights, etc. For most people, this is the hardest part of their day, so powering through a good workout releases your endorphins, increases your mood, and puts you in the emotional mindset to take on any challenge you might encounter.
—Dustin Cavanaugh, RenewAge
11. Assume the best.
Brené Brown said in a recent interview, “What if you knew that everyone in the world was trying their absolute best?” That perspective triggers an immediate and powerful shift in compassion. You will listen and connect more when you assume people are doing everything they can.
There is something deeply powerful about taking time out for stillness. I’ve become a highly empathetic and intuitive person, which would not be how I described myself less than a decade ago. I feel highly in tune with the world around me as a result.
—Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids
13. Look for meaning.
It’s important to reflect at the end of the day to better understand what transpired and how you could have handled it better. Look for the meaning in people’s reactions. It will tell you a lot about what they’re thinking. Sometimes it’s hard to determine that in the moment, but you may find the answer if you reflect on it later.
—Andy Karuza, FenSens
14. Respectfully disagree.
If you don’t agree with a decision and need to present an alternative, first put yourself in the other person’s shoes and think about how you would want to be approached. Would you want to discuss this one-on-one or in front of a group during a meeting? Are you being solution-oriented or are you pointing out a flaw? Always consider the other person.
—Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, AirPR
15. Stick to a mantra that resonates with you.
I center my mantra on the fact that you cannot control other people’s actions, only your own. Often in life, we’re faced with challenging people and situations. It’s in the way we react, feel, think and act in relation to the challenges that will make the difference.
—Stanley Meytin, True Film Production
Related: 7 Thoughtful Ways to Stress Less