In life, sometimes people just get you. And they get themselves too. They’re so wise. Like a living, breathing Yoda (with hopefully less ear hair). Chances are young padawan, this person has a high level of emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence “is the ability to recognise one's own and other people's emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour.” (According to A Dictionary of Psychology, by Andrew Coleman).
In order for businesses to benefit from emotional intelligence, it needs to be part of their processes and culture
I think we’ve all
had experiences with businesses or companies that didn’t quite understand you
as a customer or a client or weren’t concerned about you as a customer. That’s probably because as a business they had limited emotional intelligence. Businesses, especially ones that are working directly with
clients, can stand to gain from using emotional intelligence. At the end of the day, people with good
emotional intelligence build relationships and that helps them get ahead. It’s the same in business. As businesses, we all want to create solid
relationships that retain clients and builds the business.
I’d argue that businesses themselves need to develop an emotional intelligence of their own, separate from the employees that work there. Employees bring their own skills to a business, but those skills tend to be specific to the individual and go with them when they leave, even if they do make an impression while they are there. You might say “But a business doesn’t have emotions so why would they need to display emotional intelligence? How would they display emotional intelligence?”
In order for businesses to benefit from emotional intelligence, it needs to be part of their processes and culture. Get staff on board and let them contribute their own perspectives and emotional intelligence skills. A business with emotional intelligence is not only interested in using these skills to develop relationships with clients, but also by helping staff develop their own. Emotional intelligence can build up your business by helping other businesses build themselves up.
Here are the 6 most important traits of emotional intelligence (because why does 5 always get all the fun?):
Adaptability: When working with clients, you need to be able to adapt in varying situations and still maintain your relationship with them. Clients change their minds, unexpected deadlines come up and sometimes life just happens. Businesses that can remain calm in the face of adversity and deliver services when circumstances change keep client relationships strong. And you don’t let these problems make you bitter and tarnish your relationships. You pivot and move on.
Collaboration: This term gets thrown around a lot, but that’s because it’s important. It’s everyone paddling in the same direction to reach the same place. And it involves other emotional intelligence skills like awareness, motivation and engagement, so it’s win-win. Work with clients, not against them and cultivate an us and us relationship, not an us and them relationship.
Developing Others: As a business, you seek to build people up by helping people improve their knowledge and abilities. This is done by not making assuming when working with clients and try to educate them on your industry where possible. This isn’t limited to clients only. Within your own staff you offer opportunities to help employees advance and develop themselves professionally and see this as a positive for your business.
Empathy: Feeling comfortable enough with your clients to put yourself in their shoes and share your concerns will help build trust in the client-agency relationship. It takes a confident business to be realistic with clients and not just tell them what they want to hear. It is listening between the lines to be able to determine a client’s thoughts and concerns but once they’ve shared them, acknowledging and supporting them goes a long way.
Service Orientation: Listening, as with a lot of the other emotional intelligence skills, is key to service orientation. In order to provide the best service, you need to not only listen to a client but actually hear what they are saying to understand their needs and take them in the right direction. Providing the best service possible might mean different things with different clients and it's important to discern the difference between clients.
Transparency: Being open about the results achieved can be difficult, especially if you are struggling to achieve them. Setting realistic expectations upfront will help with that, as will regular updates on progress and re-evaluating goals where necessary helps you to be more transparent as a business. Honesty really is the best policy.
The good news is that if you’re not currently using emotional intelligence in your interactions with your clients you can start developing it now. Analyse your current working methods and the strengths of your team. Then look for opportunities where you can use these strengths to grow your client relationships. Happy clients equal happy business for you and for them.