Emotional intelligence: it’s a phrase buzzing through nearly every industry, but what exactly does it mean? To get to the heart of the matter, we spoke with Elise Simard, the president of SpeechComm as well as V2’s residential media and public speaking specialist. A seasoned communications professional, she regularly works with our clients to prepare them for live interviews, media tours and any other important speaking engagements on their schedules. Additionally, Elise works with companies to advance their organizational growth by fostering employee professional development. Most recently, she coached the V2 team on how we can strengthen our emotional intelligence in the workplace and beyond. Here’s what she had to say on the topic and its far-reaching benefits:
To start, what is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is understanding and managing your feelings while having the ability to do the same with others’. For a professional, this ability results in being able to accurately assess an interaction and respond in the best way by accessing their skills, knowledge and intellect.
So, someone who demonstrates signs or skills of high emotional intelligence is someone who is a great communicator, meaning they put the receiver of the message first, are able to adapt to different processing and communication styles and can speak to all levels and situations. Additionally, this person is a fantastic listener who is interested and curious in others and shows empathy for them. They deal with conflict constructively and can work collaboratively, take accountability and responsibility, act with humility, and are able to influence, motivate and connect with different personalities and working styles.
Can you explain how people can assess their emotional intelligence?
The two key areas to assess and develop your emotional intelligence are self-awareness and self-management. A person with high emotional intelligence is able to clearly identify the emotions they are feeling and understand, interpret and manage them. They know how to regulate their moods and impulses, which allows them to work and interact with others in a productive way.
To develop your emotional intelligence, be present to the emotions you are feeling. There is no such thing as a good or bad emotion. Your emotions are telling you something – don’t avoid or smooth over them. For example, if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out most of the day at work, there could be a good reason. Maybe your time management is off, or maybe you are someone that says yes to everything without thought or planning. Additionally, think about what your emotional triggers are. Who and what are the people and things that might annoy or frustrate you? The more you know the better you will be able to manage your reactions and responses.
Likewise, be mindful to the impact your emotions have on others. Observe how people react to you during and after an interaction; do you leave people feeling comfortable, inspired and happy or stressed out, overwhelmed and spent? Emotions are not just self-regulated; they are co-regulated.
Why is emotional intelligence equally, if not more, important than business intelligence or “book smarts”?
Emotions are the primary driver of our behavior, as we process emotion first. Therefore, emotional intelligence impacts how we react and interact with all types of people in a variety of situations daily.
Why is it important for PR professionals—or, anyone in the working world, especially a client services business—to have a high emotional intelligence and practice mindfulness?
The most important ingredient to assuring company growth is the development and maintenance of strong relationships with your clients and internal team members, and emotional intelligence serves as the foundation of how we build and maintain those relationships. Our emotions influence how we listen, communicate, deal with conflict and problem solve, which impacts our overall relationship quality.
What are some best practices that you’d recommend people in business employ to build relationships with their coworkers, clients, etc.?
First, be interested and curious to those around you. Occupying this nonjudgmental emotional state allows you to ask thoughtful questions while answering others’ without defensiveness, which can foster empathy and improve rapport.
Second, be you at your best, all the time. Tap into your most natural delivery when communicating so that your client’s and team members will perceive you as genuine, confident and credible. This requires you be in tune to your non-verbal delivery, which includes your body language and tone of voice. When you communicate with others, do so with the intention to build trust, respect and integrity.
Lastly, be accessible. The best way to foster relationships is to keep channels of communication open to all involved at every level. Accessibility usually results in your team and clients feeling heard, valued and engaged. Companies also see an increase in productivity and a decrease in conflict due to all parties being clear on goals and objectives.