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Emotional Intelligence and Successful Business Communication

Sue Gench


key words: emotional intelligence, business communication, self-observation, self-knowledge, strategies for successful communication

Emotional intelligence, coined by the psychologist Daniel Goleman, who wrote a book with the same title, "Emotional Intelligence", explains the dynamics of how understanding of one's own feelings can help to make human relations more successful. Emotional intelligence is the understanding of one's own feelings, having a roadmap for the emotional makeup of one's own psyche that, in turn, leads to understanding feelings of others, bringing about constructive relations that occur as a result of it. One implication of having emotional intelligence is having the ability to be successful in human communication. Of course, not only in business relations but in all aspects of life, emotional intelligence is the corner stone for successful communication.

Goleman's Emotional Intelligence has sold millions of copies, and, now, the EQ (Emotional Quotient) short for the Emotional Intelligence, draws more demand than the IQ (Intelligence Quotient) in the academic, education and business world for the workings of success. I will use Emotional intelligence and EQ both in this article.

Thanks to the work done in human psychology in the last two centuries, we have already learned quite a bit about who we are in the presence of a long list of concepts, such as self-knowledge, self-awareness, cognition, ego, objective-self that are all roadmap to human psyche. Besides what we know already, emotional intelligence adds one more component to it, that is a perceptive ability to understand our emotions as well as the other side's when we interact with others. This two-way understanding, understanding our own emotions as well as those of the other side's, triggers appropriate responses, bringing off a successful result for the purpose of the communication. This is to say that the purpose set for the communication is accomplished where emotional intelligence is at work.

Communication problems in business are often looked over as long as we accept the outcome. "Feeling what I got is the best I can","I will not get what I really want", "I deserve what I ask for but I will not get it", "I have no alternatives and have to accept the deal" are all first hand causes for feeling "helpless" that we don't have power (sufficient resources) to support what we need to assert in these kinds of situations. Feeling these emotions is one thing and acting upon them another. First, you need to be in touch with your pattern of mental activity in these situations Because you think that "this is it", "I have to take it", "I have no alternative to change it", which makes you next feel "helpless". You are responsible for eliciting your negative reactions. Another person in the same situation may feel differently (not helpless but sufficiently resourceful), and, in turn, elicit positive thinking and a proactive response. Calm but assertive, we are bound to defend our rights effectively, bringing about a better outcome than the "helpless mind set" for a doom we end up with.

You perhaps are wondering now with "How about me?", "Am I having enough EQ?", "My problems at work may well relate to my insufficient EQ". Or, "How can I improve my EQ?" Let me deal with two common questions here:

How do I know I have insufficient EQ?

If you are easy to anger this is the first alarming sign, perhaps preventing you from communicating effectively with your business associates. The reasons why we react with anger to situations vary but the most common one is that, as I said above, feeling helpless, powerless, and that we have no control over the situation. If your communications are not successful because you experience these negative emotions and act upon them, then your EQ is insufficient. In interactions with others understanding our emotional reactions and ability to cope with them is the essence of EQ.

How can I improve my EQ?

The first step is you begin with listening to yourself. Beware of your own feelings when having a problem in your communications with others. Watch out for these feelings: Do you feel helpless, powerless or unable to control the situation? Fired up with these emotions, the brain sets out to generate anger reactions to appease the anger we feel, and we throw them all at the other side. Letting out the anger is an instant gratification we regret in the aftermath.

If you feel confident, powerful and feel that you have control over the situation, then you are likely to act with calm, you are collected and able to perceive the other's side's feelings. You know what to say and how to say it. Ask yourself: Are you this person?

Apply this mental exercise to real life situations.

  1. Imagine that you are calm, relaxed.
  2. Imagine that you have power and can help yourself to bring the person to terms with common sense, courtesy and fairness.
  3. Imagine your body language: You are peaceful, receptive, tolerant, and keeping eye-contact.
  4. Imagine that you observe, listen to the other side.
  5. Imagine that you speak effectively, use appropriate verbatim. If you are not a verbal person, work on your self-expression, your language. Practice what you will say alaud.
  6. Imagine that your communication with the other person may not go well, but you are collected, proactive yet accepting what you can't change. This mental practice will calm down your anxiety over "what if I don't get what I want?"


Reference: Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman, 1995.


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