Emotional intelligence (EQ) is defined as the ability to manage your internal emotions and identify the emotions of the people surrounding you. Emotional awareness is a proven quality of highly successful individuals.

According to the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), emotionally incompetent individuals struggle with change, team building and interpersonal relationships. A study by the Carnegie Institute of Technology showed that 85 percent of financial success is attributed to a high EQ, while only 15 percent is due to technical skills.

Some of the most important qualities specific to real estate agents relate to EQ aptitude. Negotiation skills, likability, trust, sales tactics, and regular, clear communication are all EQ characteristics.

Unfortunately, most EQ proficiencies can’t be learned from a book. Experience, practice, failure and awareness will develop your emotional skills. But to start off on the right foot, here are the four habits emotionally intelligent individuals practice regularly.

1. Showing empathy

Working alone most of the time, it’s sometimes difficult to recognize feelings in the people who surround you. But that doesn’t make it any less important to consider your impact on others’ lives.

Being empathetic toward others’ feelings goes beyond simply comforting someone when they’re feeling down or treading lightly when providing constructive criticism. Rather, having empathy means you understand how your actions and words affect others, and enhancing your communication skills to better represent your point of view. It doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t speak the truth, but you understand how important it is to choose your words wisely.

Empathy is highly important in successful negotiations. Our natural inclination is to benefit our clients and ourselves, but a successful negotiation is when all parties walk away feeling like they’ve won. Taking time to consider all viewpoints, or being empathetic, increases the odds of a successful deal.

Not only can you create mutually beneficial outcomes, but others will be more open to work with you, you can build a stronger reputation and subsequently better your business.

2. Being relatable

Finding common ground is the easiest way to make friends. Agents with high EQs are more in touch with the importance of social skills. Just because you can chat it up with strangers at a party, though, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re relatable. In fact, active listening will help you find similar qualities in other people so you can respond with confidence and assuredness on various situations.

If you struggle with your social skills, step out of your comfort zone once in a while. It gets easier with practice.

Expand your circle by meeting new people and developing your existing personal relationships. Practice these interpersonal skills both internally (brokerage) and externally (clients).

3. Practicing self-awareness

People who are highly self-aware know their strengths and weaknesses very well. They take the time to analyze shortfallings and actively work on bettering themselves as individuals and as professionals.

Most self-aware agents are also able to regulate their emotions. Internal discipline leads to reflection rather than irrational reaction.

Self-regulating individuals don’t get defensive or show hostility toward others when an issue arises because they have the ability to discuss their business in a straightforward, nonpersonal way.

A lot of people struggle with not taking criticism personally. Even if you do get offended easily, work on avoiding knee-jerk reactions. Taking time to think about something creates a level-headed attitude. Always allow yourself a moment to digest someone’s words before responding — it shows thoughtfulness and care.

4. Learning from mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. Even the most popular individuals commit social faux pas once in a while.

However, agents with high EQs take these slip-ups seriously and use them as learning experiences. Rather than allow awkward encounters to ruin a relationship, they’ll work harder to regain lost trust or mend broken ties.

It’s important to analyze your failures, but also to move forward with your life. Harping on embarrassing situations won’t help you grow internally. You could end up fearing repeated encounters and avoid social gatherings altogether.

If you’re interested in developing growth skills, look into attending an emotional intelligence workshop, a seminar that explains why the aforementioned skills are vital to success and provides you with the tools to implement them properly.

Being smart isn’t all about graduating with high honors, or being financially apt, or even making money in your industry. No matter how good you are at what you do, lacking emotional skills will set you back in your career — in one way or another.

Email Jennifer Riner.

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