How the pandemic is highlighting the crucial role of emotional intelligence in business
Finding a true differentiator in a highly competitive and crowded market is challenging. Technological innovation, pricing structures, expertise and experience are all key to success – but it's emotional intelligence (EI) that will really give you the edge over your competitors.
All too often the focus is on demonstrating competence to a potential new client – at the expense of empathy and a genuine interest in building a trusting relationship.
Winning new business has become vital to survival for many companies during the current pandemic. But at least one positive effect to emerge from the crisis has been a greater emphasis on EI in the workplace – which, if harnessed in the right way, can provide a much-needed boost when it comes to growing your business.
Engaged, happy staff with high esteem are more productive – and stronger client relationships help a business run more smoothly and win more work. At the heart of both these things sits EI. The good news is that the explosion in working from home during the pandemic has led, in many cases, to demonstrations of empathy becoming 'business as usual'.
In virtual meetings, for example, more time is being spent at the start to check in with team members at an emotional level – "How are things?", "How's everyone in your house coping?" and so on. Small talk is the new big talk for all of us – and this is feeding through into client conversations, too. Technical introverts, for example, are starting to understand the warmth versus competence balance and appreciate that clients don't just want competence 100% of the time, they also need warmth – so things like empathy, care and relationships matter.
Of course, there are still people who are not getting it – or not getting it fully. Too many people equate being 'nice' with strong EI – but they are not the same thing. Just saying nice things doesn't cut it. You can't put on a thin EI veneer and think 'job done'. You have to be proactive in your care of others – remember what they've told you in the past, for example, and refer to it: "You mentioned your daughter was struggling with home schooling. How’s she doing?"