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5 Ways to increase your emotional intelligence as a knowledge entrepreneur

Being in or running a business requires quite a few skills. Most people focus on learning about sales, marketing, finances, and innovation. They are all very useful, but there’s one more aspect (often overlooked) that knowledge entrepreneurs should focus on: emotional intelligence (EQ). 

Popularized by Daniel Goleman, the concept of EQ describes how people with a high emotional quotient show five key qualities: 

  1. self-awareness;
  2. self-regulation;
  3. motivation;
  4. empathy;
  5. social skills. 

They understand and are in better control of their own emotions while also recognizing and influencing the emotions of the people around them.  Some individuals are innately more emotionally intelligent than others, but we can also cultivate EQ to some extent.

How important is EQ for a knowledge entrepreneur?

The studies show that EQ is far more important for entrepreneurial success than general mental ability. This was the scientists’ conclusion after analyzing 65,000 business owners. Study author Jared S Allen said that:

“​Our study highlights the fact that entrepreneurship is truly a unique work setting that favors those who can manage themselves and others effectively. The promise of entrepreneurship is that it provides a setting for people to chart their own direction in life through the development of a venture. This development requires the ability to work through one’s own emotions and to influence others.” 

As a knowledge entrepreneur, you are not only charting your own professional path but helping others with theirs. Using emotional intelligence in your online courses means that you’re better equipped to empathize with learners and their struggles. A high EQ helps you help others if you also offer or plan to offer one-on-one sessions as a coach

Here’s how:

Build your emotional vocabulary

To be aware of your emotions and manage them, you need to know what they are. This means you have to be able to name them. What separates those with high EQ scores from those who struggle to empathize is the ability to identify secondary and tertiary emotions such as sentimentality, fascination, and skepticism.

After all, how can you truly feel an emotion if you don’t have the words to describe it? You may be able to identify basic emotions such as happiness, anger, and sadness. But the nuances of these are significant. In order to deal with them appropriately, you'll need to tell when anger, for example, is frustration over a particular situation, and your need is to establish some boundaries or speak up about something. 

Read more: Overcoming adversity: 5 principles for knowledge entrepreneurs

Take time to observe how you feel

A lot of introspection goes into getting to know and manage your emotions. We often rush from one thing to another and put our own feelings aside to get things done. However, ignoring them does not make them go away, nor does it help us in the long run. While nobody has the leisure to stop every time there’s a strong emotion and run an in-depth analysis, it's best to have a coping strategy, especially for this. 

It's important to notice what you are feeling, what brought that emotion about, and what your physical symptoms were – as physical manifestations are components of our emotions. It's essential to be mindful of the full picture and connect the physical and the emotional. 

Know what you think

It may seem like silly advice at first. Of course, you know what you think; you are a rational human being. However, it's difficult to discern what we really think whenever strong emotions are involved. Our limbic brain takes over whenever we need to act fast. It resembles an elephant trying to be controlled by a rider (our neocortex, the more recent development of the brain responsible for language and rational thought). 

As long as that elephant runs amok, the rider has no chance. Therefore, it's essential to be aware of this, take a deep breath, and identify the thought that happened amid all that emotion. Try to think in terms of "I felt frustrated/angry/anxious because…”. It’s a very relevant exercise because pairing the emotion with the thought will help you deal with both much better in the future. 

Use the gentle inner voice

We often tend to be a lot more critical of ourselves than we should be. The highly competitive business environment does not help with that either. Everything seems to be a contest, and in our strive to be better, smarter, faster, or more efficient, we often end up giving ourselves a lot of grief.

While it's good to be aware of your weaknesses and work to improve, being overly critical is not helpful at all. Our brain is wired to pay more attention to negative thoughts as a way to protect us from possible threats. That was important for survival a very long time ago. It’s important to be aware of this and purposefully reinforce positive thoughts and opinions. Celebrating success and slowing down to accurately measure hurdles or failures are good ways of cultivating EQ. 

Give yourself time to pause

Time is indeed money, and you are definitely worth the cost. Being a knowledge entrepreneur means you know and promote the value of investing in oneself. Building your emotional EQ will undoubtedly bring you to a better place and help you be more focused and effective. Give yourself time to always consider things before leaping into action. 

Pause before you give an answer, even in the instances when one is warranted right away. A bit of distance and applying already acquired self-knowledge (such as what your thoughts are, what you are feeling, and where the emotion comes from) will make an enormous difference in how you interact with others. They will also significantly impact the results of your conversations and actions. 

Read more: The 8 things you need to do after getting a bad review for your online course

Closing thoughts

EQ is just as important as business flair. You may have all the right ideas, but if you are not in charge of your emotions, you can't read others’ either. It's essential to put time and energy into sharpening your emotional intelligence if you want to be more successful and feel a lot more confident about your decisions. EQ also comes in handy when you have to deal with learner complaints or when you need to identify their pain points. 

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