The best negotiators and most effective leaders possess high levels of emotional intelligence, or a high emotional quotient (EQ), meaning the ability to manage your emotions and effectively communicate while empathizing with other people and seeing their perspectives.
Although your IQ is mostly fixed by age 16, you can improve your EQ through your 80s.
According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, there are five components of emotional intelligence:
- Social skills
Although these components play off each other, they aren’t all equal.
The Essential Component of Emotional Intelligence
If you aren’t good at self-regulation, the other four components of EQ won’t matter. You won’t be self-aware, you won’t be motivated, you won’t be empathetic, and you won’t have effective social skills.
Simply put, if you can’t regulate your own behaviors, you will struggle with emotional intelligence.
When it comes to emotional intelligence, one of the first steps is being willing and able to put your BS aside. Although many of us are used to anger and frustration in high-stakes negotiations, we can self-regulate by staying genuinely curious about the other side’s perspective and what makes them tick.
Self-regulation isn’t easy. When you self-regulate, you expose yourself and become vulnerable. But at the same time, you also become more aware, and your social skills improve. Suddenly, it’s much easier to put empathy at the forefront of conversations.
The True Key to Unlock Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to influence your own emotions and appraise, assess, verbalize, and influence the emotions of others. In fact, the true key to EQ is influencing other people’s emotions at will.
To some folks, this sounds an awful lot like manipulation. But there is a big difference between influence and manipulation, and it can be summed up in one word: intent.
If I intend to hurt you, I’m manipulating you. If I intend to put both of us in a better place than we were before, I’m influencing you.
When it comes down to it, I can’t influence you unless I can influence myself. That said, there isn’t a Black Swan expert on the planet who doesn’t struggle with self-regulation. We all get triggered, and we all do things we regret from time to time.
But the best negotiators—those who have mastered EQ—can get into the flow state (i.e., “the zone”) and experience a profound moment of clarity in which they can read the other person like a book. When this happens, they can determine what their counterpart is feeling, what motivates them, and what it will take to get them on board with the deal.
Why Is Self-Regulation Hard?
When you master self-regulation, you care more about the other side than you do about yourself in the heat of the moment.
This is what makes self-regulation so difficult. Unless you’re talking to a friend or a loved one, this level of care does not genuinely exist.
In other words, self-regulation takes conscious effort—and a lot of it.
For the best results, you must strive to transform yourself into the most emotionally intelligent person on the planet.
Make the Most of Emotional Intelligence
Next time you encounter a massive barrier to an agreement, you can get past it by understanding the emotions behind it.
Once you can verbalize those emotions and practice Tactical Empathy™, the motivation and social skills should follow. You just have to be conscious about what you’re doing.
The first step to effectively using EQ in your negotiations is to understand its five components and why self-regulation is the most important. After that, you need to leave your IQ at the door and focus solely on empathy and understanding.
As you approach your negotiation, mentally prepare to be uncomfortable. When you expect discomfort, you are in a much better position to adapt to a harsh environment and navigate difficult conversations using EQ.
At this point, you understand why the components of emotional intelligence are essential to a successful negotiation. Now it’s time to figure out who is sitting across the table from you as quickly as possible.
For more, download our free guide, Three Negotiator Types.