Back in the baby boomer days, business and emotions were definitely not to mingle. Any public displays of revealing your feelings basically made you a pussy and a liability. If you wanted to cry then you should definitely keep that shit in the work toilets, behind a cubicle door, sobbing into a loo roll.
But as we homo-sapiens have evolved, we’ve also learned that emotions can be the secret key to unlocking success. Emotional intelligence isn’t all about getting in touch with your feminine side; it’s far more complex than that.
EI (emotional intelligence) is not so much about being emotional as it is about having power over your emotions and not letting them take over you. Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve asked Gary in sales why he still hasn’t replied to your email only to be told, ‘I will fucking reply when I’m good and ready!’ Yeah Gary hasn’t mastered EI yet. Don’t be Gary.
Having the ability to self-regulate your emotions means that you’re that dude or dudette who doesn’t self indulge in bad moods or act on their negative inner monologue and blaze into work ready to tear someone a new one. They feel, they reflect and choose not to act on their inner shit storm.
It’s also about knowing yourself. If you understand who you fundamentally are to the core and what drives you, then it’s easy to be more comfortable with yourself. You can be honest, frank and welcome questions and criticisms instead of behaving like a defensive toddler when your boss asks if you really had gastro when you took a sick day.
Empathy is another important factor of EI. If you’re hiring, then there are definite downsides to going for a sociopath. Those who possess compassion will have a genuine connection with others and be able to navigate around their peers with tact and consideration in order to create a harmonious working environment and eradicate any unnecessary shit-stirring.
Social skills are also paramount to EI. It’s not about being a social chameleon and just telling everyone what they want to hear, ‘yeah I agree Kathy from finance is a total bitch’ (even though you’ve never met her) but instead finding common ground and being able to relate to the peeps you spend hundreds of hours with. Genuinely listening (rather than just waiting your turn to speak) is a good way to start.
So how are our leaders using EI to better understand the people in their business? Enter the effervescent and switched-on Kerry Savage who specialises in Training and Coaching CEO’s in this fascinating area.
Where did you first learn about EI?
If you want to influence peers, colleagues, clients, bosses then EI is absolutely critical.
I learnt about emotional intelligence in my role as a communications trainer and coach. It’s an integral part of any training course involving business relationships: leadership, management, conflict resolution, assertiveness, and even public speaking.
There are some reports that EI is linked to IQ, what are your thoughts on the matter?
Yes, studies have shown that IQ and EI share certain parts of the brain. It makes sense, for example, that verbal understanding and processing skills are associated with both general ‘book smart’ intelligence and emotional intelligence.
How do you think EI can shape organisations?
Countless studies evidence a stronger link between EI and business success than IQ.
A successful work culture is massively dependent employees’ ability to work harmoniously and productively together. You simply can’t do this without EI. Particularly, in today’s stressful working environments, you need to be able to control your emotions, and have the empathy to understand why others behave the way they do.
And culture-shaping starts at the top of an organisation, with the leader. So this person requires impressive interpersonal skills to engage their employees, not just rationally but emotionally. Emotional self-control will certainly have a positive cultural impact on the business; however, when leaders don’t have this, they have the potential to trigger a toxic ripple effect across the whole organisation.
If EI really works, why aren’t all business’s using it?
Some organisations that are behind the curve, and care only about the technical skills required to do the job, are missing a trick. Without EI, you can’t sell, persuade or build relationships effectively. You might have the product, but this is only have the story: ‘people buy people’.
What are the personal benefits?
Life for those people blessed with exceptional EI will be enjoyable and stress free! These people are self aware. They demonstrate empathy. They can manage their emotions and have the social skills to handle others. In short, no drama.
Is a high EI ever beyond anyone?
A high EI is not beyond anyone, but some people are naturally more gifted in this area – in the same way that some people have a higher IQ than others.
Some people are emotionally tone deaf. We’ve all met them: the friend who gets into lots of arguments and lashes out; the parent who criticises you for being overly sensitive; the boss with terrible listening skills; the colleague who refuses to accept responsibility and blames others for their mistakes.
The good news is that with time and practice, EI can be developed and learned. Unfortunately though, the more in need of an EI boost you are, the less likely you are to realise!