Solopreneurs are usually intelligent people. Many have above average IQs. Creating a successful business requires intelligence, creativity, insight, and copious amounts of logic. However, a high IQ alone is not necessarily a marker for success. The most successful solopreneurs have something else – a high emotional intelligence (EQ).
Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage and understand your emotions and those of other people. It involves the capacity to be self-aware and empathic, as well as to self-regulate your emotional reactions to outside stimuli. A high emotional intelligence usually means you have good social skills and can better understand what other people want and need.
When it comes to running your own business, emotional intelligence is essential, especially if you’re frequently dealing with other people.
Thankfully, unlike your IQ, which is fixed, your emotional intelligence can be developed and expanded.
Benefits of increased emotional intelligence
There are a number of benefits as a solopreneur in developing your EQ.
Increased self-awareness leads to a deeper understanding of your strengths and weaknesses in particular scenarios. You have a stronger insight into what drives you to do what you do and the values behind the actions you sometimes instinctively take.
With this awareness comes the ability to consciously make better use of your strengths and find ways around your weaknesses. A higher awareness of your behavior and mental patterns also helps you to boost self-confidence and take criticisms as constructive feedback rather than getting defensive. Impulsive reactions are reduced.
Increased empathy helps when dealing with clients, customers, and delegation partners. You are better able to decipher what a prospect needs and the feelings required to successfully convert them into an actual customer.
Successful solopreneurs can read from the tone of voice and body language what someone else is feeling. He or she can then modify a sales approach to match the desired outcome for both parties. Empathy also helps in developing strong long-term relationships with freelance partners and clients.
Bringing logic and emotion together
High emotional intelligence lessens reliance on pure logic or impetuous emotionalism. Many business owners often lean towards one or the other, which can lead to problems. Pure logic often lacks intuition and creativity. Unrestrained emotion can lead to the frequent chopping and changing of directions without giving a course of action time to bear fruit. Both can lead to potential failure.
A developed emotional intelligence can knit these two sides together and see the bigger picture when it comes to work and people. There’s more clarity, balance, optimism, energy, motivation, and focus.
When logic and emotional awareness are developed as one capacity – EQ – then the skills to master both yourself and your relations with others grow. This can be hugely beneficial when it comes to growing a business from the ground up. When you display a high emotional intelligence then people are naturally drawn to you as someone they can trust.
How do you develop emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence skills can be developed. The human brain has the ability to change, quite literally. Neurologists term this ‘plasticity’. This is where the billions of microscopic neurons in the brain can create new connections or pathways with their neighbors (15,000 each). As it does so, new behaviors and habits are created.
The more a skill or habit is developed, the stronger these pathways become. Soon these new behaviors become second nature as the old and unused pathways are broken down.
This is great news because it means with a few simple mental habit changes, you can relatively quickly improve your emotional intelligence.
So what are some of the ways, as a solopreneur, you can actively develop your EQ?
Observe your thoughts
Our thoughts and emotions are directly linked. A single sudden thought about something scary can almost immediately render us feeling panicked and tense. Similarly, a happy or an arousing thought, can bring related feelings coursing through our body.
Spend time observing your thoughts and feelings from a detached point of view. Practice mindfulness meditation where you simply watch your thoughts come and go, while being aware of the feelings they bring with them. You don’t need to adopt a meditation pose. You can observe your thoughts and feelings while walking to work or taking a lunch break.
Evaluate your thought patterns
Once you practice observing your thoughts for a while, you’ll begin to notice patterns and habits. This is recognition in action. This recognition allows you to evaluate your most frequent emotions and impulses. You can then see why an emotion arises and the thoughts that both preceded it and were born from it.
By engaging in detached observation in this way, you’ll be able to shine a light on problematic reactions and tendencies. Once you know what the problems are, you’ll be in a stronger position to change those thought habits and react in a different way. You’ll already be changing your brain’s neural pathways, for the better.
Actively cultivate empathy
Whether you mostly work alone or frequently with other people, empathy is a skill you can practice. Take time when talking to people, whether clients, customers, colleagues, or friends, to really listen to what the other person is saying. Consider what they might be thinking and above all, feeling. Make a conscious effort to study their body language, eye movements, and their tone of voice in relation to the topic being discussed.
This practice will quickly develop your emotional intelligence and it will soon become second nature. You’ll find yourself more accurately picking up on subtle clues people give you as to how they’re truly feeling and the ways you can make them feel better. In business, this is hugely beneficial.
Developing emotional intelligence
Developing your emotional intelligence won’t happen overnight but the brain can develop new habits and skills relatively quickly. With persistent practice and observation of thought patterns and reactions, you can soon begin to notice improvements.
With a developed emotional intelligence, you’ll see the bigger picture in relation to decisions that need to be made and how these will impact on your business as a whole. You’ll feel calmer, more balanced, and less prone to rash decisions. You’ll find your working relationships run a little more smoothly and best of all, you’ll gain deeper insights into how you can reach and convert more customers and clients.
A solopreneur with a highly developed EQ can outperform someone who might have a higher IQ. When you can understand your own emotional reactions, as well as those of others, better than most of your competitors, then you’re in a hugely advantageous position as a solopreneur.