I was infuriated recently when I overheard a woman telling her partner, loudly and in public, what an idiot he was.  She didn’t say she thought he was an idiot, she simply stated it as a fact.  He meekly said nothing.

Why did it infuriate me? It was none of my business except that I overhead her diatribe and it made me feel angry on his behalf. I also felt he was with a person who was so insensitive as to label him the equivalent of a fool, an ass, a halfwit, blockhead, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, cretin, imbecile, dullard, moron and clod.

Who was lacking in intelligence in this instance? Without knowing anything about either of them, what I assumed was that the woman was lacking in Emotional Intelligence (EI).

As entrepreneurs or Small Business owners, we may have team members who support us and help our business to run smoothly and to grow.  How effectively we communicate with them and lead them depends on our EI.  It shouldn’t be purely about the money, the bottom dollar, profits. Of course that is important however, if we don’t treat our team members well, let them know they are appreciated and communicate that appreciation then their motivation and productivity will suffer.

Emotional intelligence (EI) matters just as much as intellectual ability when it comes to personal and professional relationships and leadership capabilities. A high level of emotional intelligence helps you to build stronger relationships, improve motivation and, in turn, raise productivity and create success at work and in business.

EI is the primary driver in leader effectiveness because leadership is about using influence and building effective relationships, which are largely emotional tasks.  EI has been measured as contributing 75-80% of the elements for success compared to 20-25% for IQ.

According to productivity figures from a Gallup ‘State of the American Workplace’ report, each year the US experiences US$450 billion to US$550 billion in lost productivity due to low employee engagement. Let’s find out what we can do about it.

5 steps to raise your Emotional Intelligence:

1. Gauge situations accurately by managing stress
1. Recognise what stress feels like
2. Identify your stress response
3. Find stress management techniques that work for you

2. Reduce relationship stress with emotional awareness
1. Connect to your emotions, create awareness of your emotions and how they influence your thoughts and actions
2. Become aware of your relationship with your emotions and the physical sensations you experience during the different emotions
3. Pay attention to your emotions and understand how they affect your decision making capability

3. Improve your non-verbal communication
1. Be aware of how your body language changes when communicating under stress
2. Focus on the other person when communicating to be aware of non-verbal clues
3. Make eye contact to communicate interest and maintain the flow of a conversation

4. Use humour and play to deal with challenges
1. Humour, laughter and play are natural antidotes to life’s difficulties use them to keep things in perspectiv
2. Playful communication broadens your emotional intelligence and helps you smooth over differences and relaxes and energises you
3. Play also helps you to become more creative as it frees you of rigid ways of thinking and allows you to get creative and see things in new ways

5. Resolve conflict positively 
1. Stay focused in the present and don’t hold on to old hurts and resentments
2. Choose to forgive – give up the urge to punish or seek revenge
3. End conflicts that cannot be resolved – it takes two to keep an argument going

I hope the next time that woman feels like calling her partner an idiot in public she’ll be able to manage her own stress levels to be aware of her emotions and the physical response to what stresses her so she doesn’t cause distress to others. I’m always working on my EI, how comfortable are you with your level of Emotional Intelligence?

Originally published on smallville.com.au