Q: I heard someone use the term 'emotional intelligence." What does that mean, and is it important to my business?

A: An understanding of Emotional Intelligence (EI) is important for anyone who wants to establish better relationships with others whether at home or in business. '(EI) or social competence, sometimes called common sense or maturity, is a set of social skills that enable you to reach beyond your intellectual capabilities." Irwin Federman, CEO and venture capitalist said, 'All things being equal, we will work harder and more effectively for people we like... and we like them in direct proportion to how they make us feel." The good news is, emotional intelligence skills can be measured, developed and enhanced.

The study of EI is ongoing and much information is available on the subject. Studies have shown individuals who scored high on emotional intelligence tests, on average, outperform those with the highest levels of intelligence who scored lower on emotional intelligence. Often those with the highest levels of emotional intelligence are the most successful in their careers.

EI consists of four emotional intelligence skills; self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management grouped under two primary competencies; personal competence and social competence. How those skills are used has an impact on performance at work, physical health, mental health and relationships.

Learning good techniques for managing stress and emotions is the first step in developing strong emotional intelligence skills. For some people, that means being willing to acknowledge emotions, accept them and become comfortable with them. Determine how those emotions impact interactions with others. Understand that communication is not just what you say but the body language you exhibit, even when you are not talking. Learn techniques for communicating in a non-aggressive manner. Really listen to what others are saying before responding.

An important skill in emotional intelligence is understanding the use of humor and play in dealing with challenges. Setbacks happen, try to look at them from a more optimistic perspective. Creativity will often help resolve conflict positively. Stay focused in the present. Is there a win-win outcome that can be found? What role do you play in making that outcome happen?

A good resource for learning more about emotional intelligence is through Brent Darnell International

(brentdarnell.com/resources). Try taking the free mini emotional intelligence test on that website to learn more about the areas you could work on to gain in emotional intelligence. Practice alternative ways to communicate that are not confrontational. Build skills in communication that lead others to feel valued and heard and you will develop your emotional intelligence quotient.

Arlene M. Soto is the director of the SWOCC Small Business Development Center, www.BizCenter.

org. She can be reached at 541-756-6445, asoto@socc.edu, or at 2455 Maple Leaf, North Bend, OR 97459.

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