The process of starting a business requires one to constantly break through oneself. It is truly a journey of homecoming and self-development. The outer development in your business affairs is merely a mirror to what is unfolding within oneself. As entrepreneurs, we will inevitably face many challenges.

This is where emotional intelligence becomes a core predictor of success for entrepreneurs and leaders. A true leader is emotionally intelligent, for he or she is more likeable and successful at motivating others. Emotionally intelligent individuals are more attuned to the needs and wants of clientele. They possess the ability to understand and accurately express nonverbal emotions as well as interpret the emotional expressions of others.

EQ leads to one being more emotionally resilient when facing obstacles, more successful at handling intense emotions, and having the ability to work more effectively with employees, customers, and other stakeholders. Yet we are often not taught emotional intelligence in formalized classroom settings and there is much underestimation of its power. In fact, emotional intelligence is essential if you are in any business that deals with people. Which consists of, well, most businesses after all.

Here are some takeaway tips I learned from some of the leading self-development books for building EQ:

  1. In How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, I learned to smile more, always find something good to say in others, and quit criticizing people for what you think is missing. “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you”.
  2. In Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, I learned to value building a safe space. This is vital for cultivating a free flow of information which is needed for brainstorming and finding the most appropriate solutions. It is also important to check if you are interpreting your perception correctly with the other party as often, we can assume a situation that leads to a misunderstanding. “People who are skilled at dialogue do their best to make it safe for everyone to add their meaning to the shared pool”.
  3. In Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry, I learned that it is important to start with controlling my own emotions and behaviors first. This book teaches how to develop active listening skills and to receive feedback on blind spots. “The biggest obstacle to increasing our self-awareness is the tendency to avoid the discomfort that comes from seeing yourself as you really are”. We must embrace seeing the truth of our weaknesses in order to overcome them.
  4. In Influence by Robert Cialdini, I learned that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is one of the most fundamental principles of influence. It is also important to reciprocate, commit, and be consistent when forming relationships.
  5. In Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, I learned to always prepare for your best-alternative-option in advance. Let your counterpart make the first offer, be prepared for extremes, and ask open-ended questions. The art to negotiation requires a highly tuned emotional intelligence. “He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of negotiation”.
  6. In What Everybody is Saying by Joe Navarro, I learned that observation is a key skill you can develop and teaches us to “speed-read” others. Nonverbal behaviors comprise approximately 60 to 65% of all interpersonal communication. These behaviors include cues which can help you spot dishonesty, discomfort, attraction, etc in others. Your body language will also influence what your boss, family, friends, and strangers really think of you.
  7. In How to Be the Greatest Improviser on Earth by Will Hines, I learned the importance of framing your sentences with “Yes, and…”, becoming present, making choices and committing to them, but also being ready and adaptable for change. “Learning to play with anyone is part of getting good”.