Intelligence is an important trait to possess for any job, but there are different types of intelligence. Advisors may be surprised to learn that emotional intelligence could be a skill to take their careers to the next level. Here’s how having emotional IQ could help advisors help clients.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence or EI requires interaction between people. EI stresses the use of “soft skills” rather than hard facts.
Robin Stern, associate director for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence put it best saying, “We can use our emotions to inform our thinking.”
Why EI Matters
All of us, no matter the job interact with people every day. That means we all communicate and we all do so much differently. This is where EI comes in handy.
“Emotions matter,” Stern said. “And they matter for five areas of life – attention, learning, decision-making and judgement and relationships.”
The scenarios below show how client – advisor and advisor – co-worker relationships can change based on emotional reactions.
Scenario 1: You’re sitting with a client who you’ve prepped for. You do your best and really are tuned in to what you think the client wants and speaking from that stand point. The client isn’t interested in your advice and says, “no I’m not interested.” You’re disappointed that it didn’t go well, you’re disappointed in yourself. What is your response? What do you do?
Scenario 2: You’re sitting with a client and you’ve been prepped. It’s someone you are meeting for the first time and a co-worker gave you a prep sheet on that person. And you realized that they gave you the wrong prep sheet after your meeting with the client has already begun. You’re not disappointed anymore, now you’re angry. What is your response? What do you do?
Depending on your response/reaction, you could be hurting yourself and your relationship with your clients and co-workers.
“If you’re going into a meeting with a client and you are unaware that you are carrying that last meeting with you and you’re trying to put on a happy face, but really you are in a sour mood, it’s likely that that will be making it into that meeting.”
Stern says that those sour moods can be contagious. Is that what you want a client or potential client to pick up on when you sit down with them for a first meeting?
“Emotions are signals,” Stern said, adding that we might not know what the emotion is or why we are feeling it, but it’s easy for us to know that something isn’t right. So, it’s important for advisors to be conscious of their mood and the emotions they are projecting.
If you are an advisor who manages a team or practice, EI can also have an impact on your employees’ ability to meet and exceed expectations. “You can’t be creative or try something new if you are afraid to fail and you can’t manage those feelings,” said Stern.
While conversations about emotions can be difficult, Stern said reaching your own conclusions instead of discussing them can be even more damaging.
“Don’t assume you know what they are feeling,” Stern said. “Ask them.”
Improving Your EI
Undoubtedly, emotional intelligence is a must-have for advisors and planners who need to understand their clients’ needs and wants from every angle. The good news is if you don’t think that you are well-endowed in the EI department, Stern says it can be improved.
“Recognize your emotions and emotions in others,” Stern said.
Stern said these techniques are versatile and can help advisors anywhere on the EI spectrum.
Techniques To Improve EI:
- Practice Responding vs. Reacting – Your client doesn’t understand why one of their investments isn’t performing as expected. They’re disappointed, and although you want to defend your actions, try listening first to their concerns and deciding how you want to behave before you respond. This can make a big difference in the relationship as well as in the self-care department.
- Practice Empathizing – Emotional intelligence applies to ourselves and to others. So, empathizing and understanding why someone feels and behaves can help you find better ways to communicate with them.
- Take Responsibility For Your Feelings – Understand that your reaction to someone else’s behavior is not their responsibility. The more aware of your emotions and accountable you are, the more likely you are to adjust how you experience and express your emotions in the future.
Utilizing your EI more often with clients, family and friends can help you better understand people and their motivators. Employ these techniques to improve your EI and enjoy the benefits of a more personal connection to those around you.
Stern said, “People who are skilled in emotional intelligence get quicker responses from their colleagues.”
AdvisorNews Managing Editor Cassie Miller may be reached at cassie.miller@Adnewsfeedback.com. Cassie has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. Follow her on Twitter @ANCassieM.