When we picture someone with a high emotional intelligence (EQ), it’s not uncommon to picture the radically sociable salesperson who lights up rooms, gregariously takes on the center of attention, and sells successfully primarily by building relationships.
What this example really shows is a high EQ extrovert.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, picture someone else: Also in sales, she is quieter, listens much more than she speaks, asks good questions, is passionate and knowledgeable about her product, and she has a really keen sense for how her clients feel, what motivates them, and what they look for in her product. In other words, she’s equally effective and equally emotionally intelligent to the high EQ extrovert. She’s a high EQ introvert.
The danger in this misconception that a high EQ is about sociability is that it can lead a lot of introverts (and at least 30% of us are introverts) to try to be something they’re not—extroverts. As a result, they won’t fully leverage their strengths or natural tendencies, and they’ll likely be less successful and less fulfilled in the process.
EQ is about making the most of your personality. To help get introverts on the right track, we’ve put together a short list of four of the most common traits of introverts and how EQ can help introverts capitalize on their natural style.
Tendency #1: Being around other people drains an introvert’s energy. Unlike extroverts who tend to feel fueled by meeting new people and attending social events, introverts are more likely to leave parties and social events feeling drained. Instead, they rely on solitude for their energy.
EQ Strategy: Put together a plan before big social events. When faced with big social events, high EQ introverts plan accordingly. They’re sure to get solitude and rest before and after the event. And when it comes to the event itself, they may think through who they might like to seek out and talk with as well as a few talking points or back pocket questions to help set themselves at ease and be more effective in their interactions.
Tendency #2: Introverts have a small group of close friends. Whereas extroverts like to make friends everywhere, introverts tend to have a few very close friends and stick to them.
EQ Strategy: Rely heavily on those few close friends. High EQ introverts may not have the widest net, but they make their friends count via quality time. They don’t isolate themselves. They stick to their close friends and turn to them for support, advice, feedback, laughter, or to talk things out. In sticking to their close friends, they ensure their social lives are just as rich, exciting, and complex as an extrovert’s.
Tendency #3: Introverts are reflective and introspective. Introverts often like to spend their time examining their own life experiences, motivations, and interests. As a result, they are very likely to pursue individual hobbies and interests (like music, reading, or gaming) with great passion and independence.
EQ Strategy: Let your self-awareness flourish. Instead of trying to force themselves to expand outward, high EQ introverts know how useful reflection can be when it comes to self-awareness. By thinking through their actions, reactions, and interactions, they come to understand themselves and the way they interact with others on a deep level. This is an invaluable skill when it comes to leadership and developing a greater sense of life satisfaction.
Tendency #4: Introverts are drawn to independent jobs. Introverts naturally like to work in roles where they’re granted autonomy and the freedom to get their work done on their own terms.
EQ Strategy: Overcommunicate. High EQ introverts in independent jobs may appreciate what they have, but they also recognize the importance of communicating with their boss and the people around them to ensure they aren’t just working into the void. As a general rule of thumb for introverts, overcommunication is the guiding light. Only when they feel like they’re overcommunicating are they reaching that communication sweet spot from the perspective of others.
From Insights to Action. “Inside every head is a world.” –Cuban Proverb Personality is a framework by which we can explore the infinitely complex world within our head. Personality extends far beyond introversion versus extroversion and includes things like being results-oriented, humble, systematic, firm, high-spirited, or even-keel. Make it your goal to learn about more of your own personality traits so that you can 1) Understand what makes you tick with more nuance, and 2) Act more congruently with your natural tendencies.
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