I’ve worked as a trainer for the Oracle sales organizations in EMEA and Asia Pacific regions for four years. I’ve coached more people than I can count, ranging from entry-level sales reps to executives. Back in 1995 when Daniel Goleman, published his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ, I became fascinated with the subject of emotional intelligence.
Simply put, emotional intelligence (EQ) describes a new way of being smart that is at least equally important to achieving success as IQ or technical expertise. It’s become popularized over the last two decades as researchers have uncovered key findings that emotional intelligence can impact success in business and leadership more than IQ. I have been so intrigued by the field of emotional intelligence that I am a certified EQ coach.
Why is EQ important now? It’s because we all find ourselves in uncharted territory in which our daily routines have been upended. We’ve had to adjust to the public transformation of social distancing where we can’t interact on a personal level, and face-to-face interactions are very limited.
Many of us are working from home, when we’re used to going to an office. We’re shifting to video conferencing instead of in-person meetings and trying to accomplish tasks by phone, email, and text when we’re used to walking down the hall to discuss projects.
For people in sales and consulting roles who are used to in-person presentations, negotiations, deployment planning and status meetings, we find ourselves trying to read the room, if you will, across a computer monitor.
At the same time, many of us are juggling young children who are usually in a day care setting or kids schooling at home who demand and need attention.
Emotional intelligence is more important now than ever so that we can successfully navigate these unprecedented times—both professionally and personally.
Empathy is key
Without getting too deep in the weeds about EQ, a critical competency is empathy. We’ve all heard the adage, “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.” In other words, walking in someone else’s shoes means you put yourself in the other person’s place to understand their circumstances, experiences, challenges, thoughts, and emotions.
Think about that for a moment in the frame of our current collective circumstances of stay-at-home orders, dogs barking on conference calls, and kids walking into video conferences asking for help with school work.
Empathy has become so important to create a human connection and shared understanding as we adjust to our new world of social distancing. It involves three key behaviors:
• Active listening - Fully concentrating on what the speaker is saying so you understand, respond appropriately, and remember what they are saying.
• Curiosity - A genuine desire to gain knowledge and information by asking the right questions.
• Emotional connection - Creating a genuine bond by communicating your understanding.
Building emotional intelligence and empathy in our new way of life
A well-known clinical psychologist, Dr. Martyn Newman, reviewed more than 100 of Goleman’s research papers and developed a structure of 10 emotional competencies based on the commonality he observed across Goleman’s different studies. His thorough review of that body of research established clear links between the 10 specific emotional and social competencies and outstanding leadership and professional success. The good thing is that you can develop and improve all these competencies/skills.
One of my favorite concepts from Goleman is the Triple Focus Model, and it’s one I like to teach and follow myself. At a high level, it involves these three clusters:
Focusing on Yourself
It’s your ability to understand and moderate your own emotions so you can keep cool under pressure, strive toward goals despite setbacks or major changes that may have occurred in the last few weeks, and stay motivated day after day in an uncertain world. If you’re feeling overly stressed or anxious on a particular day, maybe it’s best to reschedule an important call with a customer.
Focusing on Others
This is your ability to adapt to changes, remain resilient and optimistic, demonstrate empathy for others, communicate clearly, foster teamwork and collaboration, and persuade others. These skills are crucial to creating connections as we social distance and work remotely.
Focusing on Systems
It’s your understanding of the organization, an industry, or a particular system. As you work remotely, knowing how to navigate an organization can be very helpful to accomplish tasks and build rapport with key colleagues.
Tips for optimizing interactions while working remotely
As our work world shifts to online technologies, keep these 3 high tech tips with EQ in mind:
• Video conferences - It can be overwhelming and exhausting to be on camera for hours every day. It can also be distracting to look at ourselves on camera, as if we’re looking at a mirror. Sometimes your colleagues may not want to be on video. They would prefer an audio call, and that’s okay.
• Texts and emails - We all know it’s difficult to read emotions in written communications like texts and emails. The situation is compounded now as people work from home and juggle many different priorities. If you don’t get a response immediately, don’t assume that someone is ignoring you. They may just be busy and not able to respond as quickly as you’d like. A trick I like to use is the send-receipt notification on emails. When I receive a response, I know my email has been received and read. Then, I can give the person the time they need to respond.
• Social media - Be mindful of what you post, how it might impact others, or whether it appears as negative. If you want to share, be sure that it’s uplifting, inspiring, or motivating.
Emotional intelligence is not an innate or finite skill. You can improve your skills as you practice them. With every call, email, text, or video conference, you can build your skill set to listen more actively, ask questions with a genuine curiosity for the answer, manage your emotions, become more resilient despite bad news, set-backs, or significant changes, and demonstrate empathy as others juggle their personal situations.
We’re in the midst of unprecedented times and focusing on your emotional intelligence is a great skill set to help you manage your circumstances.
For more information about how Oracle Cloud Applications can help you work remotely, go to www.oracle.com/applications