Guess what trait 41% of hiring managers consider to be more important than IQ? Emotional intelligence. It’s one of the 2015 buzzwords you probably heard over and over again. But do you really understand what it means?
When you’ve got a high EQ, you’re skilled at identifying and regulating your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Which sounds great, right? After all, who wouldn’t want to hire people who are capable of doing this?
Oh, and it isn’t just important when you’re trying to get hired—it’s also super key while you’re on the job. A whopping 58% of the factors of your success can be attributed to it.
If you want to gauge how high yours is—or you’re looking for ways to improve it—check out the four habits of emotionally intelligent people.
1. They Pause
During high-energy or tense moments, colleagues with high EI never react without first pausing and taking stock of the situation. This short break gives them the chance to objectively review what’s going on and stop themselves from saying or doing something impulsive.
Here are the types of things these people consider during that pause:
- What mood is the other person in? Is he or she anxious, angry, annoyed, stressed, disappointed?
- What mood am I in?
- What can I do to make both of us feel better?
- If I can’t do anything, is there anything I can say to mollify the other person?
Pausing will help you find the appropriate response, instead of saying something you’ll later regret.
2. They Ask Lots of Questions
One of the best ways to figure out how someone feels? Ask lots of questions. Emotionally intelligent people use a series of questions to make those they’re talking to feel comfortable—which usually results in them opening up and sharing more.
For example, here’s what an exchange may look like:
Person 1: Hey, how’s your day going?
Person 2: It’s going pretty well. We’re trying to get that presentation finished before we show it at the conference.
Person 1: Nice. The conference is in just a couple days, right? Did you guys run into any road blocks?
Person 2: Well, it’s been hard to get all of our team members in the same room at once. Everyone ends up doing work on their own time, but then it’s not cohesive.
Person 1: That does sound difficult. Did it all work out?”
Person 2: Yes eventually, but it took awhile to learn…
You’ll be surprised at how quickly co-workers will be honest with you when you ask questions and listen.
3. They Reflect
People with high EI intuitively understand that analyzing how they felt and acted in the past helps them be more deliberate and aware in the future.
For example, when they come home in a bad mood, they don’t immediately push the day out of their mind and veg out on the coach. Instead, they take some time to think about what bothered them and why.
To get into this habit, pick three to five times a day to give yourself a “mood check.” Pick the top emotions you’re experiencing, then identify which factors contributed to each.
In time, you’ll see patterns: “Talking to Alex makes me anxious,” “Writing an article before noon makes me feel more focused the whole day,” and on and on. Then, you’ll be able to optimize your life around these patterns.
4. They Empathize
Emotionally intelligent co-workers constantly place themselves in other’s situations. This tendency makes it way easier to understand why their colleagues are doing what they’re doing—and respond appropriately.
Let’s say your boss comes in, clearly on edge, and immediately starts grilling you about your progress on a project she assigned you only yesterday.
A) Immediately get defensive?
B) Remind yourself that a key employee just quit and she needs to find a replacement while handling her already insane workload?
The second response is far likelier to keep you calm and in control.
And if you can’t think of any reasons why someone might be agitated, think about how many things you’re dealing with that that your manager doesn’t know about. Everyone’s got something going on.
Over time, you can teach yourself to be more emotionally intelligent. Not only will you be happier, but you’ll make other people feel better as well!