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Commerce Puzzle

Commerce Puzzle

Emotional Intelligence In Business

Featuring 5 Easy Ways To Improve Your Negotiation Skills

The History

Emotional intelligence, catapulted by psychology and neuroscience, took the world by storm in 1995 and business has never been the same. Daniel Goleman is the author responsible for “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ”, the book that introduced and fueled the popular ideology that is still spread today. While thought-provoking, Goleman seamlessly presents the five crucial skills of emotional intelligence and thoroughly demonstrates how they serve as the foundation for our success.

Goleman’s’ five components of emotional intelligence serve as a guide, and together embody the overall benefit of the practice – the ability to understand and manage the emotions of yourself and those around you.

Here is a TED Talk on compassion that is delivered by Daniel Goleman:

Before we get into the 5 easy ways to harness the power of emotional intelligence while applying it to business, let’s take a look at the five foundational components:


With traces back to ancient Greece and an official psychological theory developed in 1972, psychologists Thomas Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund officially cemented the long-standing idea of self-awareness into the scientific realm. The team proposed: “When we focus our attention on ourselves, we evaluate and compare our current behavior to our internal standards and values. We become self-conscious as objective evaluators of ourselves.” As studies on the subject manner vamped up, the consensus was clear, the higher one’s self-awareness, the more likely they are to succeed in business and relationships. To solidify this, Cornell University and Green Peak Partners examined 72 executives with revenues ranges from $50 million to $5 billion annually. Across all public and private companies, a high self-awareness score proved the strongest predictor of overall success. The higher the score, the more money they made. If you would like to learn more about self-awareness, click here.


Our personal favorite here at Commerce Puzzle, self-regulation is the art of governing your feelings in the most appropriate manner possible. It is important to note that self-regulation is not emotional suppression. The art calls for a person to evaluate the setting, time, and method in which they express their emotions, not to bury them. Goleman states that self-regulation requires a high level of conscientiousness. We find that it results in fluidity, conflict management, and the ability to navigate through emotionally pressing situations with logic.

Social Skills:

The two previous pillars ask you to view yourself and your environment through a conscientiousness lense. Now, the process of interacting with the environment that you have had a significant emotional impact in begins. A few of the defined social skills include active listening, verbal communication skills, nonverbal communication skills, persuasiveness, and leadership. The span of skills acts as a guide that optimizes individuals, managers, or business owners ability to build lasting and meaningful relationships with the people around them.


Perhaps one of the building blocks of human interaction, empathy is defined as “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.” Without empathy, a business loses access to culture building and can forget about producing a healthy work environment. General kindness and understanding are exchanged continuously between communities on a day-to-day basis. You can find people holding doors open, letting someone pass in traffic, doing everyday favors, and many of the other small acts of kindness that are ingrained into societies as normalities. Extending this into your business is more of a necessity than it is advantageous.


Emotional intelligence calls for a specific type of motivation that is not particularly popular in the mainstream. Intrinsic motivation, the continuous state of motivation that does not depend on external rewards, is found in abundance in successful groups of people. If someone is pursuing a goal based on external rewards like praise, financial gain, money, or even power, they are extrinsically motivated. In action, intrinsic motivation takes place when a person pursues a goal strictly for exploration, actualization, or educational purposes. For a person to be legitimately intrinsically motivated, they must pursue their goal entirely independent of any external reward. In fact, this is so ingrained into our functionality that research has shown offering a reward to someone partaking in an already internally rewarding activity can cause that specific activity to decrease concerning how intrinsically rewarding it is. If you let an intrinsically motivated person work at their craft, they tend to set goals, crave high achievement, commit to self-improvement, and show a bit of a competitive edge that is displayed through an action-oriented approach.

Emotional Intelligence in Business Negotiation

Nondiscriminatory of your sector, if you own or participate in business, you are actively negotiating more times than not. Business is defined as the act of engaging in commerce. Commerce is defined as the act of buying or selling. Whether you are purchasing raw materials, buying direct, outsourcing, or even bidding on a project, negotiating is everywhere. There are general rules to negotiation that can help if followed. The rules are: Identifying your position, realizing how the other side perceives their position, and developing a game plan. Although these serve as pillars of negotiating, emotional intelligence is far more advantageous than even the most well-designed game plan.

In hopes of helping out as much as we can heading into 2019, we have compiled a list of 5 ways to apply emotional intelligence to business to improve your negotiation skills:

1.) Manage Your Reactions

Putting self-regulation into practice, controlling the verbal and non-verbal reactions that you have to your opponents’ questions and statements can be the difference between losing a negotiation and winning one. Even the most intelligent people in the world have little control over how things emotionally impact them. It is important to note that you are not trying to make yourself immune to emotion, you are merely striving to react strategically.

2.) Display Patience

Patience is a virtue, and also a weapon. Taking a page out of Japanese business techniques, incorporating pauses into your dialect when negotiating has proven to be a powerful tool when used in the western world. When communicating in the United States, we do our best to avoid silence. In Japan, businesses deploy a decision-making process known as Ringi. Ringi is defined as a system that approaches decision making from a group perspective. The result is thoughtful patience during the negotiation process, something that makes Americans uncomfortable because it accompanies silence. We are so uncomfortable with silence that we have a term for it, awkward silence. Injecting silence into the conversation, especially following a rebuttal, can cause discomfort and quick decision making by your opponent.

3.) Emit Authenticity

Even in the tensest of business negotiations, it is a necessity that your opponent considers you a believable person. Losing authenticity in debate shows your opponent that you fail to stand by your opinion. However, maintaining an authentic and consistent stance on your opinions and position becomes more impactful the longer it is done.

4.) Be Flexible

Negotiation calls for assertiveness when communicating; a rebuttal almost always requires flexibility. During a business negotiation, it is rare that one side gets everything they intend to get heading into the deal. Even if there is a 1% bend to lock-in the remaining 99%, the 1% requires flexibility. A good negotiation is respectful, and this respect is maintained through flexibility. It is important to note that being flexible does not mean relieving your position. Flexibility can be displayed in a multitude of ways, including when you are saying no. Giving your opponent a logical reason for your denial is often enough to be perceived as humble and flexible, this is an essential tool to have in your set of social skills. Trying to bully your way through negotiations will get you nowhere.

5.) Remain Aware

Perhaps the two parts most often misinterpreted; negotiation is not confrontation, and assertiveness is not aggression. Emotional intelligence requires the desire for a level of emotional maturity that is only reached through consistent effort. You may have to teach yourself to think before you speak, to listen with more intent, or even to slow down when you talk. Wherever your weaknesses and wherever your strength, the requirement to remain aware at all times will never subside. It takes emotional maturity to remain assertive while avoiding all signs of aggression. The more you practice, the better the result.

Learn More:

If emotional intelligence interests you, here is a video by Dr. Ivan Young:

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