The customer is not always right. Sometimes clients are unreasonable, mean or manipulative. And, you have to turn the other cheek as an entrepreneur. That, my friend, is self-regulation, the second pillar of emotional intelligence.

Business is great except for the people

That was the punchline of a joke I heard years ago. And, it’s true. People can be challenging. Ask anyone who deals with the public. It takes a people person, someone with high EQ, to deal with the masses and keep smiling.

Let me tell you about the counter person.

The last flight into Lexington airport was cancelled for the night due to undisclosed circumstances. People were pissed. The line to rebook or get hotel vouchers was long with a silent dread.

These are the best situations to learn about what people do when stressed, including you. I watched as passenger after passenger vented their rage at the airline attendant who smiled, nodded, cooed and moved them along. My natural curiosity kicked in, even though I was tired and cranky, too.

I watched in awe as she combined two of the pillars: social awareness and self-regulation.

She used her ability for empathy, a part of social awareness, to connect with each passenger around what matter most to them. Do you need food vouchers? Of course you’d want something good after such a long day. Concerned about the earliest flight out? I would be too. Let’s get you on the earliest with us or someone else.

She used her self-control to not respond defensively to the passengers who blamed her, threatened or generally behaved badly. There were plenty of people that I was embarrassed for that night. Yet, she smiled and wished them well.

My turn at the desk, all I could do was thank her. She gave me a surprised look like for what? I explained that I teach EQ and that she was a perfect example of how the skills helped her reduce her own stress and better serve the clients. She explained that for each disgruntled guest she see her grandmother, a slightly eccentric traveler, who was helped over the years by generous souls.

She didn’t think it was anything special. It was special. Although I never saw her again I’m fairly sure she is a great success.

Self regulation helps us deal with other people when they are acting out. It can also help you deal with yourself when YOU are acting out.

You are your worst critic

I get to work with some of the hardest working, most principled entrepreneurs around. They don’t have to worry about client feedback because they are giving themselves constant feedback, mostly not very kind.

Self-regulation is also about whether or not you can stop the negative self talk and replace it with something that nurtures you.

Can you maintain belief in yourself over the long haul? That’s also self-control. How? Complexify yourself!

Recognize that you are excellent and less than excellent at the same time and both are good.

For instance, recently I missed a networking meeting. I booked via email instead of my electronic calendar, which is my routine that supports my memory. I didn’t want to seem formal or insist on a way to schedule. I missed the meeting by a half hour.

The old me would have been me up for hours about not double checking and the terrible impression I made. The new me recognizes that I did my best. It was a regrettable error that in no way comments on my competence. The prospect rebooked without a second thought.

How often are you holding yourself to a much higher standard than is necessary or sustainable? Just asking.

Here’s my second livestream on emotional intelligence and self regulation. I’d love to read your comments.


Dina Lynch Eisenberg, JD, is the CEO of, an outsourcing training/consulting firm for successful lawyers and entrepreneurs based in Oakland, CA.

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