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Emotional intelligence (known as EI or EQ) is defined as the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions as well as recognize, understand, and appropriately respond to the emotions of others. Proponents of EQ believe it’s as relevant as IQ.
To learn more about the benefits of EI in corporate communications, I recently chatted with Caroline Stokes, a certified executive coach and the energetic founder of Forward, an executive search firm. Here’s what I learned:
1. An emotionally intelligent approach supports key business (and human) benefits such as engagement, morale, and productivity.
CS: The World Economic Forum in 2016, 2017 and 2018 stated EI is an important skill to constantly work on, evolve and develop – not only to be successful now but to be relevant and employable in the future.
Emotional intelligence awareness and development is key to all aspects of business communication with colleagues. Verbal, non-verbal, written … our emotions ebb into all these communication styles, so it’s important to develop EI to enhance our business relationships.
From a business perspective, the benefits include a sense of collaboration, understanding the real goal and being able to reach the goals needed. When people have that (business) relationship through an emotionally intelligent approach, everyone is engaged. Engagement comes from building areas of our emotional intelligence across composites that are all connected. Our EQ is unique, so we each have to work on our EQ uniquely to ensure we can produce results that impact growth in our goals and growth with the people we work with.
2. Before hitting Publish or Send, enlist your EI
Poor writing leads to miscommunication and wastes time and money. Best practices include reinforcing robust writing abilities with keen emotional intelligence, thereby decreasing the likelihood of miscommunication—the sort that may impact the bottom line.
CS: I once fired a client and had email fisticuffs with a website developer when they were unable to communicate as business partners. I wasn’t looking for one-sentence emails in a barking format, which is what I got. I’m more than happy with brevity as long as it demonstrates sound reasoning. I would argue that their email emotional intelligence needed work, as I’ve seen it impact relationship productivity and success.
3. How do we improve EI in our written communication?
CS: Ask people if they feel warmth from your communication or directives. Do your communications go back and forth with intelligent curious questioning - or could you ask for a phone call at times? Before you press send, are you aware of all the areas the recipients might be curious about to help them understand exactly what the next steps are? Understanding how you communicate in written form, and how you interpret and respond to others’ messages such as email, Facebook communications or business social media platforms enables you to perform optimally.
Think about all the angles people might need to know. Put yourself in their shoes. What is the goal? What does good look like? What are the hurdles? What are some solutions? What do you know about the other person (or people included in the communication) being able to handle this? What are the deliverables? How will this impact them, the business, and whatever else springs to mind? Ask people for their input. Ask if there might be anything that could get in the way of meeting the goal.
Avoid language that reflects badly on yourself. Work on turning frustration or anger into curiosity. Yes, it’s hard to do, but the more you can turn a negative trigger into one that focuses on a goal or solution, the better the end result so everyone collaborates to reach the favoured conclusion.
4. And if the robots are coming ... you need to be your “best human”
Experts predict significant job growth in those fields that relate to supporting and facilitating humans in efficient and effective human-robot interaction. Our levels of both cognitive and emotional engagement will need to be high.
CS: It will never be more important to hone all of our emotional intelligence during this next revolution. If machine learning, analytics and technology automates and simplifies most of our repetitive job functions, we have to be our best possible human to interact with others and the technology simultaneously. You can’t be your best human without constantly evolving your EI.