Emotional intelligence—the buzz word throughout many major business publications is gaining traction especially in the midst of global economic uncertainty. We often think of emotions as something that should be separate from business, but the truth is, our organizations are staffed by people and people have emotions. It no longer makes sense to have all emotions checked at the door of your business day and businesses are adapting. This goes well beyond the employees of a business; it also extends to the customers. Emotional intelligence is becoming a key enabler of customer experience (CX), and it’s important to understand why this is a crucial aspect of your CX strategy.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
While there may be a basic understanding of emotional intelligence, it’s important to know what the phase encompasses and how it relates to the business world. Here’s a good definition of emotional intelligence:
“Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions as well as the emotions of others. There are three main skills: emotional awareness, emotional problem solving or thinking, and emotional management. ” – Psychology Today
Simply, emotional intelligence is understanding emotions and knowing how to manage them but there are three key areas that this definition calls out: emotional awareness, emotional problem solving, and emotional management. How these pieces fit into business demonstrates the importance of each of these areas.
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “read the room,” this aspect a prime example of that colloquialism. When going into any interaction with someone else, it’s important to take note of their mannerisms, words, and expressions to better understand where they are emotionally. It doesn’t only extend into the people you’re interacting with but also being aware of your own emotions—evaluating how you’re feeling and thinking prior to any interaction. This awareness feeds into the way you tackle a problem and interact with another person, it’s the groundwork for the ability to work cohesively with others.
Emotional problem solving
Problem-solving is widely understood as the ability to define problems and find solutions that eliminate the problem. When you add the word emotional before the phrase it then becomes about solving these problems but understanding the effect of the problem on the room around you and to manage emotions as you find a solution to that problem. This reinforces emotional intelligence by understanding that there are (at times) emotional factors that influence the ways problems are resolved and coming to a solution that takes those factors into account.
Emotional management is probably one of the hardest aspects of emotional intelligence. Emotional management is how you respond to what is going on around you and managing that response. How do you handle the anxiety from a deadline? Confrontation from an angry customer? We all have areas where we excel in emotional management and other areas that leave room for improvement. Businesses too, as a whole, also must have some form of emotional management.
Each of these areas feeds the larger idea of working to exhibit emotional intelligence as a whole and whether it’s your business working directly with customers or working internally within teams.
Where does Emotional Intelligence Exist within Business?
Having emotional intelligence means more than just being aware, it’s an active assessment of the changing situations around you and a realization that business cannot be separated from emotion—a completely foreign idea to what had been traditionally accepted in the business world. However, what emotional intelligence does not do is allow for the rampant swaying of decisions based on emotion—logic and reason are still very much part of the equation. Rather it allows for a roadmap to take emotions into account for a problem or situation and adjust as needed.
By using an emotionally intelligent approach in business, we can see the world through the lens of those around us and better address situations. These could include:
- Understanding the pain points that customer is experiencing and how your product could solve the solution
- Finding what is stressing out a colleague to help eliminate or alleviate the situation
- Listening to customer frustrations with your product and de-escalating the situation through comprehensive listening
The situational application of emotional intelligence can further your business goals and find the most optimal solution. It’s a form of problem-solving that is taking center stage in today’s business and helping companies propel their customer experience strategies.
By understanding the why behind the behavior, organizations are better optimized to address situations and find a solution. Not only does this lead to better CX and satisfaction, but it also increases internal employee morale. How employees feel has a direct impact on customers and how they perceive a brand, so it’s all-around a win-win for businesses.
Emotional intelligence is a necessary investment for businesses seeking to grow and invest in the best that tomorrow can offer.