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Why An Entrepreneur Should Have Good Emotional Intelligence

Entrepreneurship is a daring act – the kind that requires ambitious entrepreneurs to make sacrifices, to let go of comfort, to tread into the unknown, and to do the unthinkable.

Emotional intelligence is important for all of us – personally and professionally – but entrepreneurs need more of it just because they experience a lot more “emotional currents”. To be an entrepreneur, you’d have to nurture the idea that takes birth in your head. You’d then execute the idea, grow it into a business, and then actually run the business.

You’d wear multiple hats, juggle multiple tasks, and achieve more in a day than what most people do in a week. Without the right amount of emotional intelligence, the creative spark erodes. You’d then experience stress, fear, frustration, and anxiety. Entrepreneurship is strewn with multiple challenges and failures.

It’s not easy just being ourselves; it’s that much more difficult being an entrepreneur. That’s why entrepreneurs need good emotional intelligence. Susan Liddy, CEO of Susan Liddy International, wrote for Huffington Post on emotional intelligence and clearly outlines the criteria for emotional intelligence:

  1. Emotional Awareness
  2. Emotional Management
  3. Emotional Relating
  4. Emotional Enlightenment

Businessman Crossing Fingers

Entrepreneurship demands multiple traits working like gears together to produce the living miracles that entrepreneurs and other high-achievers are. They’d need a bottomless pit of motivation, an endless supply of energy, and they’d need an increasing dependence on emotional intelligence. Here are the reasons why you – as an entrepreneur – need emotional intelligence and how to make it happen:

Business is uncertain.

While uncertainty applies to every aspect of our lives, businesses are one notch up when it comes to not knowing what’s coming.

Entrepreneurs – from hatching that idea to profiting from it sustainably – always operate with a certain degree of uncertainty. Yet, we are not designed to operate in the dark. We just need to know. Since you can’t really know much in business, you’d need a strong backing of emotional quotient to tide you over this uncertainty.

Others have emotions, too.

In a paper by Amy E. Boren, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, titled Emotional Intelligence: The Secret of Successful Entrepreneurship, the author backs up the need for emotional intelligence for entrepreneurs.

She writes about the importance of interpersonal skills, the awareness of your own emotions while understand the emotions of others, and the ability to monitor your own feelings and emotions to identify, define, and process these emotions to channel them for productive use.

She writes this on emotional intelligence for entrepreneurs, and we quote:

“For entrepreneurs, the ability to understand and accurately express nonverbal emotions as well as interpret the emotional expressions of others is extremely important for a number of reasons. Primarily, the awareness of nonverbal expressions will help entrepreneurs in relating to clients and employees alike.”

Without emotional intelligence – the ability to manage yourself and others, to put it simply – entrepreneurs will find it incredibly hard to succeed in spite of the inane skill-sets, the hard work that goes into starting and running a business, the passion and the creativity.

Your reactions determine everything.

Situation: You just landed a $4 million deal.

Reaction: Yippee!

Situation: You just lost 8 clients. You now face a legal suit and you are looking at a potential tab of $1 million in settlements.

Reaction: Oh Oh…

Now, those reactions are a sum total of all your emotions grouping together to produce a single result.

Both of the situations above are almost a part of life for entrepreneurs and it’s bound to happen to everyone who escapes the cubicle and wants to live the dream. The way you cope with situations and stay unscathed after every situation is what determines entrepreneurial success.

Have you ever heard this statement: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it”? Emotional intelligence is central to that statement.

How do you react?

You need balance. Behave like a pendulum.

Entrepreneurs have their emotions swinging like a pendulum, all day long, every single day. For as long as you are in business (and this will continue into your life anyway), you’ll have situations happening to you. Meanwhile, you’ll be reacting to every situation, too.

The best and the simplest way to achieve a certain level of emotional intelligence is to learn to act like the pendulum itself. If you look at a pendulum closely enough, you’ll realize that every swing of the pendulum aims to bring the pendulum back and position itself at the centre, due to gravity.

That’s what you’ll need. Your gravity is your own emotional quotient. Go happy, and come back to normal. Go sad, and come back to normal. The faster you can get back to normal, the more control you have over your emotions.

You’re walking on hot coals.

You’ll need emotional education. Everyone does.

Learn all you can about emotions and how they affect the way we relate to others, the way we work, and how our emotions rule us. The more you know, the stronger your platform is, to begin with. Put yourself into situations that’ll invoke emotions. Instead of going through your natural motions, however, practice self-restraint.

While you are at it, recognize and validate emotions that other people experience. It’s a simultaneous game of feedback and analysis. As you grow aware of your own emotions, you’ll begin to be respect and be aware of others’ emotions, too.

Then, the magic begins: you’ll begin to listen more, accept how others are, be more tolerant towards others, and become an outstanding communicator. You tend to be more patient, and you’ll trust people more.

When you accurately comprehend the emotional weight of every message coming to you from employees, clients, and vendors, you’ll be in a better position to modify your behaviour (or theirs) and address their needs.

In short, you’d lead better. You’d sell better. You’ll do business better.

Entrepreneur has a lot to do with dealing with you and then with others. The core of entrepreneurship, then, depends on your own emotional quotient.

Some entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs can get away with employee bashing and headline-making rebuttals. We are not Mr. Jobs, however, and we have a lot of ground to cover while keeping our emotions in check.

How emotionally intelligent are you?

About Author: Manish Phillip, a Senior Advisor at Espire Education, has explored new destinations for Indian students to study abroad, and has worked on education promotional strategies with a number of foreign institutions in various countries.

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