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Can you guess what it is? It’s not your IQ. It’s definitely not your credentials, and it isn’t your technical or clinical skill set. It’s your emotional intelligence.
For something that’s so important, emotional intelligence—often referred to as EQ, or EI—isn’t something that most people, including practice owners, spend much time thinking about. For many people, emotional intelligence remains largely undiscovered territory. And that’s a shame, because it’s territory that’s worth exploring, rich with possibilities for new ways to approach every aspect of running and growing your business, deepening professional relationships with patients, staff, and referral partners, and identifying your true passions in your business and in your life.
What is emotional intelligence?
It’s the ability to understand emotions—both your own and other people’s—and to use that awareness to manage your emotional responses, your behavior and choices, and your relationships. In their book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, authors Travis Bradbury and Jean Graves explain EQ as having four main components:
Self-awareness. Awareness of your own emotions and emotional triggers.
Self-management. Your ability to regulate your emotional responses, balance emotion with reason, and be adaptive.
Social awareness. Your ability to empathize, to be attuned to social dynamics, and to understand how teams, cultures and groups function.
Relationship management. Your ability to interact with others, in communication, teamwork and collaboration, leadership and mentorship.
Why emotional intelligence matters
Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re grappling with a constant onslaught of emotions every moment of your waking day, as you react to people circumstances, events and information. We all are. Our constant emotional processing is rooted in our biology, and in the communication between our rational brain (the frontal lobe) and our emotional brain (the limbic system). Our emotional brains get first crack at responding to every bit of stimuli we receive from the world around us. By the time our rational brains get a chance to weigh in, emotion has already been there and done that.
Of course, sometimes it’s to our benefit for emotion to kick in before reason—when we’re faced with an immediate, existential threat. That flight-or-fight response can be lifesaving under exceptional circumstances. But virtually all of our countless daily responses are better served by a balance of emotion and reason.
Low on EQ, our emotions can control us, leading us to be reactive in ways that don’t best serve our own well-being or our relationships with others, causing us to make decisions that aren’t objectively in the best interest of our businesses.
Increasing emotional intelligence
The great news about EQ is that it can be cultivated and developed. We’re naturally emotional creatures who thrive in relationships. We’re also an amazingly adaptive species. With attention, awareness, and practice, you can grow your emotional intelligence by leaps and bounds. You can’t do that with IQ.
The goal isn’t to stop or to sidestep the emotions that come up. That’s neither practical nor possible. We’re biologically hard-wired to have our initial reaction be an emotional one. The goal is to bring awareness to our emotions and our emotional triggers, to identify and understand them, so we can also bring reason and perspective into play when formulating our reactions.
I know from my own experience as a practice owner, and now as an advisor and coach for physical therapists and chiropractors running their own practices, how truly transformative this work on emotional intelligence can be. I’ve seen it in my own life. And every day I see it change the outlook, direction, energy, and motivation of practice owners who commit to developing greater emotional intelligence. Most important, the practice owners I work with see those changes—in themselves and in their teams, in their productivity and in their profits.
There’s a lot to unpack here, exploring all the ways EQ influences how you operate and lead your business. In the weeks and months ahead, I’ll return to this topic to talk about how EQ affects:
- Your relationship to money and your financial decision-making
- Your communication
- Your approach to marketing your business
- Your leadership skills
- Your impact as a mentor
Interested in bringing a new level of awareness to how you run your practice? Schedule a free Discovery Call and we’ll talk about how you can get started.