You’ve heard it all before, “hard work,” “late hours,” “schmooze with the big wigs.” All very important, but you’ll need to be able to do more than just churn out quality work and smile at cocktail parties to impress your boss. I once had a roommate who believed that the best way to get ahead in the business world was to be a heartless, back-stabbing, opportunistic, shark. He is what is generally referred to in the business world as a moron.
While, it is very important to be aggressive in the work place in order to show that you want to be there and succeed you won’t do yourself any favors by getting a reputation as someone who will only help others as long as you can use them to get ahead.
Business success is 5% finesse, 5% brute force, and 90% brute force disguised as finesse. There is a lot you can (and need to do) to make sure you make the right impression with others in order to get to where you want in anything. You need to find a way to be personable, sly, selfless, and selfish all at the same time. Whole books could be written about every one of those traits, but throw them all together and you get what experts call your Emotional Intelligence or EQ rating.
EQ is essentially your Intelligence Quotient (IQ) combined with your personality. In the tremendously helpful book on the subject, The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, EQ is broken down into four areas: Self Awareness, Self Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. Much like IQ, some people will have a much stronger EQ than others, but we all can work to improve it.
Because your personality is such an integral part of your EQ, no one can approach improving their own EQ the exact same way. There are, however, several different things anyone can do to improve their Emotional Intelligence and reach their goals in effective ways they never realized before.
Helping to strengthen your EQ is less of a state of mind as it is keeping track of your state of mind. Try to notice next time you find yourself incredibly happy or frustrated and what exactly made you feel that way. The point of this is to be aware of how you will emotionally respond to certain choices you make or situations you are in. The ultimate goal is to be able to learn from the frustrating, depressing, infuriating, and upsetting situations so you can have as many satisfying and happy moments in your life as possible.
This may all seem over analytical, quantifying your emotional experiences and maximizing your joy, but you already do it. Just like a dog that knows he will get a treat if he rolls over, your mind remembers certain situations in the past so you can try to repeat a favorable result. This is just a more in depth and thorough way to help you remember. The key to improving your EQ doesn’t come with practicing Epicurean philosophy; it comes with attacking your fears. Obviously there are certain situations in your life where you cannot help but feel sadness or anger. If someone steals your car or someone very close to you dies, you are not going to be able to avoid becoming upset. You should not feel like you have failed yourself if you give into your emotions in these situations, in fact, it is frequently the best thing to do.
In the situations that you can control but just feel out of control are the ones that you should attack. If there are certain topics in your personal life you are afraid to confront or a coworker in your office that you are terrified of, yet have to work with almost daily, you should want to do something about it. Confronting your fears is by far the best way to get over them and at the end of the day it will be one less thing in your life that you have to avoid; one less thing that makes you unhappy. Recognizing your own faults is one of the hardest things a person can ever try to do, but you can never overcome them if you don’t stop ignoring them.
Playing Well With Others
In Principles for Becoming a Powerful Leader I stressed the need for teamwork and respect in the workplace. This section is going to point out a few more ways you can get to where you need to be in your workplace in tandem with (not in spite of) your coworkers. When it comes to EQ and teamwork the key is objectivity. Everyone’s opinion counts, but no one counts more than the objectives of the group. Just because one person in the group is a new comer and the least experienced does not mean they will have less input of value. Likewise, just because someone has more authority and experience does not mean everything they say should be taken as gospel. The minute you start to alienate a group member, that group starts to fall apart. This all may seem obvious and simple but you may find if you pay attention to your own actions that once emotions come into play it gets much, much, more difficult.
Let’s say you have a group of scientists together studying the Sun in which you have two of the most highly regarded scientists in astronomy. It is easy to say that you will listen to what both of them have to say with a great deal of interest and care. But let us say that one of the scientists has been your best friend since you were in the fifth grade and the other slept with your ex-girlfriend. Still think you can look at the group objectively? That example may be somewhat extreme but it isn’t that far off from what goes on day to day in many group projects in offices around the world.
You can’t just leave your emotions at the door when you go into work. We all are going to have days where we are up and down, good and bad. What you should try to do is recognize when you are having one of those days so you can limit the damage and avoid having a very bad day. Some days you will shine, some days it will be the guy in the chair next to you. That is the nature of the beast that is business, but as long as you are all working together it doesn’t matter who is first across the finish line, you all get the gold medal.