Have you ever left a conversation feeling sad? Or read an email feeling confused? Or walked out of a good meeting with your boss feeling incredibly happy?
Congratulations– you’re human! We’ve all experienced a range of emotions while communicating with others. After all, we are not robots or cyborgs…yet. We are humans, and humans experience emotions. As we communicate and connect with each other, it’s important to keep this in mind and communicate with emotional intelligence.
What is emotional intelligence?
It is a term used to describe a person’s ability to recognize their own emotions, and the emotions of others, and to use this information to guide thinking and behavior. Typically denoted as EQ or EI, emotional intelligence is differentiated from IQ, which usually indicates academic intelligence. In the workplace, both are needed for success as both aptitude and attitude matter in getting the job done and influencing others. Often times, effective leaders and team players possess high EQ.
Why should you communicate with emotional intelligence?
You should communicate with emotional intelligence because it more productively gets your message across, and it also fosters meaningful connection. Think about it. We work for companies that are treated as entities, as “its”, but we are not “its.” We are people. When we speak to other people and use empathy to consider how they might perceive the message, we can more effectively communicate.
In the past, organizations were much more hierarchical and one could use authority in a command-and-control fashion to relay information. However, in the present day, there are more and more flat organizations. Communication is vertical, both up and down, and lateral, from side to side. We’re speaking over cubicles, emailing in rapid fire, and delivering presentations virtually. Employees are having conversations across all levels, and influence presides over power. To influence, one must consider the thoughts and opinions of others and leverage EQ to communicate.
Fundamentally, we still crave human connection. We want to know that others care, and that they are listening. How does it feel to be cut off mid-sentence, or to be dismissed by someone who is rolling their eyes at you? Not great. Now, how does it feel to have someone nod and look directly at you while you’re speaking, acknowledging your thoughts and processing the information you’re trying to relay? Pretty fantastic, huh?
Now, let’s get to the how.
How do you communicate with emotional intelligence?
Here are some useful tips:
- Listen. Be respectfully present in your listening and steer clear of other distractions. (Yes, we see your mobile phone in your hand.)
- Connect with your audience. Use language and words that your audience can understand. Acronyms and hyper technical terminology can isolate portions of your audience if they’re not explained. (Can…not….compute.)
- Pay attention to facial expressions and body language. Are they smiling? Are they furrowing their brows in confusion? Are they stroking their beards in deep thought? Maybe they’re frowning? Or jumping in excitement? Pay attention to these cues and adapt the pace, tone, or syntax of your message accordingly.
- Be aware of your own emotions. If you’re upset or in a sour mood, consider having that discussion or sending that text at a later time when you’re feeling more calm and collected.
- Note the behavior and tone of your fellow communicator. Is their email short and sweet? If so, avoid typing a long, epic novel when responding. Do they open their long email with remarks about the weather, and use smiley faces? Perhaps you could still write a short message, but maybe with a “have a nice day” at the end. The point is, to be aware of the other person’s communication style and tailor your message.
We hope that you will find these tips useful in your communication.
Like what you’ve read so far? There are plenty more tips to share in the future. We will continue to share useful resources in upcoming posts, so please stay tuned!
Written by Jennifer Choi on October 20, 2015