Any job – whether in customer service, engineering or pretty much any scenario where you have a colleague you want to get along with – is going to require the understanding of someone else to succeed. Success, in the context of those around you, means being able to relate to and understand both the people you’re trying to serve and also, those you serve alongside. And while we work tirelessly on developing our portfolios and racking up tangible skills to add to our resume, few of us consider the honing of a much more important life skill: emotional intelligence.
The reason emotional intelligence is a killer soft skill (get a crash course here) is because it’s central to all aspects of daily and business life. Having finely tuned emotional intelligence manifests in a few ways: with four pillars of self-awareness; social awareness; self-management; relationship management; emotionally intelligent people can keep their emotions in check by self-regulation and modification (which, in turn, assists their ability to adapt), they can reframe negative scenarios into opportunities, and are readily able to put themselves in the shoes of others by showing real empathy.
These skills touch almost every area of life and career, from how you approach a task (is this a positive challenge to my skills, or something I couldn’t be arsed with?), the jobs that you take (is this going to be personally rewarding, or just monetarily so?), the way you deal with team members (do I see where they’re coming from in terms of this disagreement?) and even your own self-confidence.
If you’re quick to negatively react or judge, or worse, even recognise you’re doing either, it’s unlikely people will look to you for level-headed leadership because you lack self-regulation, for example. The tangible result of this personal deficit is that your colleagues won’t be too comfortable coming to you with something urgent or troubling. Unpredictability doesn’t exactly set you up to be the go-to person in times of crisis.
Similarly, if you can’t find common ground with colleagues, it’s unlikely they’re going to find it with you. The ability to empathise with people – to be able to imagine their situation as your own, and not just when times are tough – is a key component of building rapport. And if you don’t have that with colleagues or customers, you’ll soon flounder in the face of someone who does.