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Dr. Shirley Says...

What's the Emotional IQ of Your Company?

"Listening is probably the most important and yet, the most neglected dimension of communication."
As we move forward through the 21st century, there is a growing belief that companies need to be people-smart as well as business-smart in order to be successful in an increasingly complex and competitive global business environment. Using the concept of emotional intelligence, many forward-looking companies have begun to think about employees and customers as people, not cogs in a revenue-generating machine.

The term “emotional intelligence” was coined by Peter Salovey of Yale University and Jack Mayer of the University of New Hampshire as they were researching factors that enable people to function well in society. But Daniel P. Goldman’s 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, brought the idea to the general public and the workplace. Emotional Intelligence is usually defined by five “emotional quotient” (EQ) skill dimensions:

1. Self-Awareness of feelings--Knowing how you are feeling. WHY you are feeling that way, and using the self-awareness to make better personal and professional decisions.

2. Emotional self-regulation--Reining in strong negative emotions, like anger and anxiety, and mobilizing positive personal and organizational support to enhance that control.

3. Self-monitoring and goal setting--Having short-and long-term goals. Making specific, measurable plans to achieve then with a spirit of hope and optimism.

4. Empathy and perspective taking--Showing sensitivity and genuine appreciation for the feelings and opinions of others.

5. Social and communication skills--The ability to work as part of a team effectively, using skills such as leadership, problem solving and decision-making, careful listening, the spirit of give-and-take, and clear verbal and nonverbal communication.

Strategies for building the “EQ” of your workplace encompass the following:

  • Create a sense of shared mission and a vision for the future.
  • Communicate respect for people at all levels for their ideas and the contributions they make to the organization.
  • Give feedback designed to improve performance, help solve workplace problems, and enhance people and their capabilities, not criticize and diminish.
  • Ensure that all employees have the tools, training and resources needed to succeed.
  • Celebrate achievements of individuals, teams and the overall company.
  • Recognized significant life events and milestones of everyone within the organization.
  • Encourage humor, optimism, and creativity as key tools for everyday success.
  • Solve problems by encouraging a wide range of thinking and reacting to benefit from a variety of perspectives.

The following is an example of how the dimensions of “EQ” and customer service would work together:

  • When dealing with a frustrated customer, employees with a high EQ generally:
  • Are conscious of their own reactions to the customer’s intensity.
  • Don’t let their own tension add to the anxiety level of the situation.
  • Determine specifically what the customer is most upset about.
  • Focus on satisfying the customer, trying to understand the situation from their point of view.
  • Talk calmly and clearly, listen carefully, and look to address the emotions of the customer, as well as the situation, in a positive way.

When the individuals in a work environment have a high overall level of Emotional Intelligence, it perpetuates better teamwork, more sharing, greater energy and enthusiasm for being in the workplace, and a feeling among employees that they are “part of something,” not just collecting a paycheck.

In the emotionally intelligent workplace, employees know that their ideas and their feelings matter. The power of caring, creativity, and collaboration is unleashed, ultimately resulting in reduced employee turnover, greater innovation and productivity, and a better bottom-line.

But it is NOT the case that having an emotional intelligence ability automatically assures effective job performance. For example, an employee may be empathetic, but not have learned on-the-job skills to make them a great salesperson or great at working with people from diverse backgrounds. Companies must invest more time in training employees at all levels to be sure that opportunities for the new skills to be practiced in job situations exist.

While there is no precise blue print for creating these conditions, many companies are using training focused on team building, communication skills and goal setting strategies to enhance their workplace Emotional Intelligence.

“When individuals in a work environment have a high overall level of emotional intelligence, it perpetuates better teamwork, greater creativity, productivity, and more enthusiasm for being in the workplace.”


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