In the heat of the action, do we have the presence to ask ourselves: “Am I being emotionally intelligent or emotionally indulgent?”

Sharpening our proficiency in EQ can radically raise our ability to succeed. Travis Bradberry, co-founder of TalentSmart and author of ‘Emotional Intelligence 2.0’, brought this fact to light with a research project involving 500,000 employees.

Thirty-three variables were tested to determine which had the most significant effect on workplace success and EQ accounted for a whopping 58%. In fact, 90% of the top performers were high in emotional intelligence, while only 20% of the bottom performers were.

There are many measures of success and even more ways to define it, but one thing is certain: polished ability in EQ can function as a key enabler of it. Moreover, EQ is a capability we can develop and enhance.

Here are five ways to boost EQ proficiency:

  1. Become self-aware

    Start in the boardroom by simply observing your emotions and thought patterns, identifying your strengths as well as your defensive triggers.

    Jeff Immelt, former CEO of General Electric, stated, “Leadership is an intense journey into yourself… Every morning I look in the mirror and say, ‘I could have done three things better yesterday’.”

  2. Hold yourself accountable

    Empower yourself to take charge of your emotional responses, without any finger-pointing or blame.

    The concept of ‘cause and effect’ plays a significant role in the outcomes of our conversations. It’s important for us to take personal responsibility for our contribution to a discussion by considering how our current thoughts and emotions will affect the relationship dynamics, if left unchecked.

  3. Exercise discipline

    As a contentious moment arrives in conversation, take a second to get clear about what you value most as an outcome, then intentionally regulate your thoughts and emotions to achieve that desired result.

    As an example, anger and frustration can be shifted to curiosity or empathy, saving us from potentially burning an important relationship bridge.

    Stephen Covey, author of the classic ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' noted, “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

  4. Practice empathy

    This is the intangible skill that allows us to see a situation from someone else’s vantage point, and when we do, they feel valued and ‘heard’.'

    The act of empathy allows us to remain objective and professional by focusing our attention on a 360 perspective, the alternative to which is permitting our defensive reactions to run their course.

  5. Cultivate trusting relationships

  6. Business success is inextricably linked with the ability to build positive relationships, where colleagues feel safe, accepted, valued, and validated. It takes only seconds in the midst of an emotional outburst to break those tentative ties.

    Focus on active listening, empathy, and curiosity around the other’s perspective, to demonstrate acceptance and recognition of their reality. Bill Gates states, "Our success has really been based on partnerships from the very beginning."

We can’t generate business success by controlling others, but we can elect to take responsibility for ourselves. Enhancing our EQ skills in alignment with ‘best outcomes’ is an empowering place to start.