Great Business Ideas: Emotional intelligence

Great Small Business Ideas to Start: Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a person’s ability to acquire and apply knowledge from their emotions and the emotions of others, in order to be more successful and lead a more fulfilling life.

The idea

Psychologist Daniel Goleman popularized his view of emotional intelligence in the 1995 bestseller Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Building on the work of Howard Gardner and Peter Salovey, he highlighted the fact that EI is evident in five key areas:

  • Knowing one’s emotions.
  • Managing e motions.
  • Motivating oneself.
  • Recognizing emotions in others.
  • Handling relationships.

Emotions are critical in determining a leader’s success. In times of change, pressure, or crisis, possessing EI is advantageous, as success is determined by recognizing, understanding, and dealing with emotions. For example, we may all feel anger, but EI means knowing what to do with the emotion of anger to achieve the best outcome. EI enables us to sense and use emotions, helping us to manage ourselves and influence positive outcomes in our relationships.

In practice

EI can be learned. Succeeding with EI is achieved by heightening ability in the following areas:

  1. Self-awareness. Despite the fact that our moods run alongside our thoughts, we rarely pay much attention to the way we feel. This is significant because previous emotional experiences provide a context for our decision making.
  2. Managing emotions. All effective leaders learn to manage their emotions, especially the big three emotions: anger, anxiety, and sadness.
  3. Motivating others. Motivating involves creating a supportive, enthusiastic environment, being sensitive to the issues that increase or reduce the enthusiasm of each individual, and providing the right approach to move and guide people in the right direction.
  4. Showing empathy. The flip side of self-awareness is the ability to correctly understand, and adjust to, emotions in others.
  5. Staying connected. Emotions are contagious: there is an unseen transaction that passes between individuals in every interaction, making us feel either a little better or a little worse. Goleman refers to this as a “secret economy,” and it holds the key to motivating people.
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These “emotional competencies” build on each other in a hierarchy. At the bottom of Goleman’s hierarchy (1) is the ability to identify one’s emotional state. Some knowledge of competency 1 is needed to move to the next competency. Likewise, knowledge or skill in the first three competencies is needed to show empathy, reading and influencing positively other people’s emotions (competency 4). The first four competencies lead to increased ability to enter and sustain good relationships (competency 5).