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John McLaughlin, curmudgeonly host and moderator of NBC’s “The McLaughlin Report” asked his panel for their New Year’s resolutions in the final broadcast of the 2006 season. Neo-conservative Pat Buchanan said he would “try to go harder on the Democrats." McLaughlin opined he would strive for “more mirth and unabashed exuberance.”

There’s no getting around it anymore: Emotional intelligence plays a big role in how far we can go in our careers and our lives. The reason is simple: It’s not about how much you know but how well you relate to other people. High performers are intuitive, empathic and accessible. They’re humble enough to listen to others and seek ideas from outside.

And they’re optimistic. I see it whenever I’m in a meeting or talking with a client. People who exude a positive attitude or as McLaughlin terms it “unabashed exuberance” get their ideas across. They’re perceived as confident. And most importantly, they’re having fun with an attitude that says, “let’s do it.”

So what constitutes exuberance and how can you demonstrate it?

Smile. The rhythm of modern life gives us little time to reflect and react. But a smile invites people into your worldview and encourages accessibility. According to Daniel Goleman in “Working with Emotional Intelligence”, “Smiles are the most contagious emotional signal of all, having an almost irresistible power to make other people smile in return. And smiling in and of itself primes positive feelings.”

Gracious, sophisticated behavior 24/7. True professionals step into the world determined to make every encounter positive and successful. This goes back to my feelings about networking, too. There’s nothing more persuasive or attractive than when you’re in the world, operating at the top of your game. Hobnobbing opportunities over caviar canapés are too few and far between.

Emotional Presence. When people are fully attentive, they’re emotionally available, enabling them to be attuned to others and responding appropriately to what is needed. Shorthand: Stop multitasking and do one thing at a time. You’ll do that one thing very well and increase your level of engagement.

Constantly reframe. Negative self-talk serves as an emotional bludgeon. Those of us who benefit from a constant stream of self-directed positive messages will attest to its impact on having a positive and yes, exuberant attitude towards life and it’s challenges.

Happiness is a skill. It’s nearly impossible to change the world but it’s always possible to change the way we look at it. Use the New Year to find the fun in the mundane. Trust me, there are more moments of mundane than there are eating caviar.

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