Much has been written about emotional intelligence and how increasing your emotional quotient (EQ) will improve your odds of success. Essentially, it's your ability to understand the emotions of yourself and others and use them effectively. Not everybody has a high EQ, but those who do are better leaders and achieve more in life because they're able to get others to work with them, and not against them.

So how does a person become more emotionally intelligent? Part of it involves being the kind of person who tends to be insightful and reflective, and able to learn from one's own life experiences. But mostly it's about having empathy for the people around you.

Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer learned this lesson early on, he told Tony Robbins in an interview at Robbins's recent Business Mastery event. (Watch the full interview on Facebook.) It's a concept that has markedly affected the trajectory of his popular fast-casual restaurant brand.

Working with difficult people can have a happy ending.

At age 20, Meyer worked for his father's European tour company in Rome and would pick up groups of American tourists from the airport. Intercontinental travel being what it is, some of these people were sleep-deprived and in a bad mood while he spoke to them on a microphone at the front of a bus. He made it his goal to convert the crankiest person into the happiest person by the end of a five-day tour. The result? He made more money in tips.

You need to read the invisible sign hanging around everyone's neck.

Meyer's experience was transformative in that it taught him to see every person as having an invisible sign around their neck that reads "Make me feel important." But the way to really do it, he says, is by imagining a subtitle: "by...". For each person the answer will be different. While you might make one person feel important if you let them share their expertise, you might make another person feel important by listening to their stories, or even by leaving them alone.

The Golden Rule of hospitality is all about empathy.

Everyone knows the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But for Meyer, the Golden Rule of Hospitality is "do unto others as you believe they would want done unto them." Certainly, this is easier said than done and will require your time, attention, and reflection to figure out the inner workings of the flawed human beings you live with, work with, or serve as customers. But as Meyer's success has shown, there are real rewards to be gained if you're willing to expend the effort.

As he puts it: "It's an amazing gift in business."

Published on: Mar 18, 2019
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