Emotional Intelligence is a must-have trait. Here’s how to build it up


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Before your buzzword alarm goes off, we should define our terms. EQ has been in the business mainstream for a while but essentially means the level to which you’re in tune with your and other people’s emotions. Someone with a high EQ understands why they feel the way they do, which helps both in navigating the usual tides of everyday interactions and in managing highly emotional encounters.

For work that involves a lot of interpersonal connection — think about the networking and relationship-building that comes with the startup community — a strong EQ goes far. Here’s how you can add some points:

Find yourself. A key starting point to this is knowing who you are. Regularly take the time to reflect on your emotions and note when something gets a rise out of you. What triggers your anger? What brings out your best? Try to be mindful of how you feel when you go about your everyday tasks, such as answering email or meeting with customers. To fill in the picture even further, check out a legitimate personality test to see where you stand.

But don’t forget others. Having a high EQ doesn’t mean you just automatically know what everyone is feeling. Don’t just guess where others are at — check in with them! You don’t have to be their therapist, but show some interest in those around you while keeping track of the same things you’ve been trying to find in yourself. Try to stay positive and proactive, especially when dealing with difficult people, and don’t be afraid to be a sounding board if someone wants to bounce an idea around.

In with the good, out with the bad. Stress management and, more broadly, dealing constructively with our negative feelings is another vital area of building EQ. In addition to everything else you might do to manage stress, the EQ approach includes keeping track of your feelings and knowing what triggers you so you can plan accordingly.

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