What do Emotional Intelligence (EI) and social competence have in common? This is not a riddle because there is no tricky meaning or answer. Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control and express personal emotions and to manage interpersonal relationships with empathy.
Personal awareness, ability to empathize, communication skills, and persuasion and leadership skills (in any position) are all factors contributing to the ability to develop positive relationships. Social competence or Social Intelligence (SI) is half the equation, so to speak, of Emotional Intelligence because it concerns social interaction or the way you and your employees and associates understand and interact with other people.
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Aware of Self and Others
Supervisors and employees regularly interact with people and groups, and the ability to be aware of and understand the emotions of others is a major factor in the ability to develop successful relationships. Social competence is a learned capacity.
Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis developed the Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competency Model. It has four domains, and each domain has competencies:
- Self-management – emotional self-control, adaptability, achievement orientation, positive outlook
- Self-awareness – emotional self-awareness
- Relationship Management – influence, conflict management, inspirational management, coach and mentor, teamwork
- Social awareness – empathy, organizational awareness
Note that every person needs some leadership skills, even if not a supervisor or manager. This particular model addresses leadership competencies, but Emotional and Social Intelligence applies to all.
For example, a contact center employee must have a certain level of Social Intelligence to appropriately respond to a variety of customers in different emotional states. One customer may have a simple need, like purchasing a product, while the next customer is angry and ready for a major conflict needing resolution, like a product that fails. The employee must be self-aware of personal emotions and able to self-manage responses based on an awareness of the customer's emotions.
In a global, networked marketplace, collaborative teamwork has become a common and critical trait across organizations. Project team members need many of the Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence competencies in the leadership model. For example, a team member needs:
- Emotional self-control – ability to keep disruptive emotions under control, even when under stress
- Achievement orientation - Striving to do things in a better way
- Adaptability – open to new ideas
- Empathy – sensing others feelings, respecting different perspectives and being aware and interested in their concerns
- Organizational awareness – ability to read and understand power relationships and group dynamics within context of the organization
- Influence - ability to persuade or convince others
- Teamwork - working with others towards a shared goal and actively participating.
Where is the Empathy?
Empathy is in short supply, starting at the top. In the Businessolver 2018 State of Workplace Empathy report, 92 percent of CEOs said their organization is empathetic, but only 50 percent of employees said the CEO is empathetic. Yet, eighty-seven percent of CEOs said there is a direct link between the empathy level in the workplace and productivity, business performance, retention and business health.
If leaders, team members or departments have not developed the appropriate competencies, including empathy, one of two things happens. One is the employee stays in the position, but is unhappy and disengaged, which in turn contributes to a negative organizational culture. The second is the employee becomes an attrition statistic.
Emotional Intelligence takes time to develop. When someone is hired, they bring an EI quotient that includes SI. After hire, on-demand courses and assessments for development purposes can provide the data to determine if the employee continues to learn and improve in areas like communicating persuasively, building loyalty and problem solving. The successful use of these skills are directly related to the person's EI and social competency.
People can learn the principles of EI and SI, but some will never develop the appropriate amount of empathy, thoughtfulness and ability to stay calm or put themselves in the shoes of other people. The person may refuse to admit mistakes, cannot handle criticism and is not a good listener, which are all outward signs of under-developed EI and SI.
The Truth and Only the Truth
People who have truthful self-awareness are more likely to develop EI and SI over time. If a person is self-aware of the personal emotions experienced and the emotions of other people, learning occurs. An external event happens, producing emotions. Emotions lead to thought processes which lead to behaviors. So self-awareness is like going back to the very beginning of a complex equation and changing the formula to get better results.
Behaviors include the decisions people make. Does an employee take a call from someone who is upset which triggers a self-defense reaction in the employee? What does the employee think at that moment, and how does the employee respond? Is it with patience or anger? What choice does the employee make?
Emotional Intelligence determines the ability to maintain self-control and Social Intelligence guides the specific response to the customer. Researchers at Rice University studied how emotion and mood influence decision-making. People who experience anger take more risks, the researchers found, which can have good or bad results.
Being truthful about oneself is often challenging. Many people have great difficulty personally assessing their moods, thoughts and behaviors with complete honesty. Psychologist Dr. Greenberg, author of Emotion-Focused Therapy, studied the role of emotions in people's reactions to situations and found that people can learn to identify the thoughts that generate emotional reactions.
There is a critical inner voice that can lead people to feel a range of negative emotions, resulting in self-defeating behaviors. Unless someone has a well-developed EI, these thoughts will repeat themselves and produce reactions that harm self and others in some manner. Someone with a strong EI is self-aware of what is happening and stops the inner voice leading to negative emotions and poor behaviors.
Employee Motivation Impacts the Organizational Brand
When someone never takes time for reflection of their own selves, they never reflect on what is influencing others behaviors and reactions. It is one of the important reasons that pre-hire assessments for motivation are so important to administer for all positions. Though there is a lot of focus on the EI and SI of business leaders, the reality is any employee needs certain competencies in this area.
Each employee can have a significant impact on a brand. It happens all the time in the blink of an eye. An employee gets frustrated and, without thinking, responds rudely to a customer's post about the company, and the response goes viral. Hiring the best person for the job requires measuring skills and experience, but understanding the level of the partnering capabilities of Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence is just as important.