Over the recent years, there's been more and more talk about emotional intelligence in business. What does it really mean and what are the actionable steps to developing your emotional intelligence? This was the topic of our Powerful Business Talks interview with Phil Johnson. Here are the key takeaways from the interview. PS! Find the full recording at the end of the post.
The biggest misconception about emotional intelligence is that you can develop it by reading about it or talking about it or listening to a video or podcast about it. The development of emotional intelligence is an experiential process that's developed by what you do, not what you think. Because what you do will change what you think.
Anybody can develop their emotional intelligence if they are willing to take the necessary action. The first thing is to try and develop an emotional connection with what it is you want to achieve. Try and develop a vision of your desired result because that emotional connection is what creates the motivation to do the emotional labor required to change our habits. The more of a connection you have with what it is you're trying to achieve, the more motivated you are to do the work that's required to achieve those results.
Initially the change process requires a leap of faith. You can only connect the dots in hindsight, after you've taken a leap. There's only two things that will cause us to leave our comfort zone: one is pain and the other one is passion and hardly anybody's connected with their passion.
Most people are not willing to do the emotional labor, so the only alternative they have is to try and change everybody else. They use position-based power or some other type of external lever to try and control and manipulate others. But it will never work. We have to change ourselves first to inspire others to change themselves too.
And change can be truly difficult because part of our brain is programmed to keep us alive by making sure we never change and leave our comfort zone because that’s how we’ve stayed alive for so long. So, when something unexpected happens and we experience anxiety, we either fight, flight or freeze. But developing emotional intelligence can really help you in these situations, to work through your anxiety and not allow it to control you.
In addition to our biology, there’s the sociological resistance to change. The people around us don't want us to change either because if we start to change and get better results, maybe they're going to have to change as well. And that is scary to them. So, the best way to ensure they don't have to change is to make sure we fail.
This means we have to change both biologically and sociologically. Right now, we are facing a tsunami of change. We are at a tipping point as a species. It is estimated that in this decade, we could experience the equivalent of roughly a hundred years’ worth of change. And the rate of change is going to continue to accelerate throughout this century.
Some scientists have said that we can experience the equivalent of 200 centuries or 20,000 years’ worth of change in the century. So, change is increasing at an exponential rate. And we've got a 500-million-year-old brain that doesn't like change. The development of our emotional intelligence is the only solution to this tsunami of change. That's why we see more and more companies hiring, promoting, and developing emotional intelligence.
We're only consciously taking action about 3- 5% of the time, the rest of the time, our behaviors and our results are being impacted by our unconscious habits. This means that our existing habits are getting us our current results, but they can't get us better results. If we want better results than we're currently getting, we have to develop better habits.
In marketing, it is important to note that we don’t make purchasing decisions on an intellectual level. We first decide on an emotional level and then we look for features and benefits intellectually to justify the decision we've already made emotionally. So as a marketer and business leader, you want to tell the people you're trying to serve why you're doing what you're doing before talking about features and benefits. People want to understand your motivation for what you're doing.
The way we connect with people is through emotion, not logic. We need to develop an emotional connection with the people we're trying to serve, so that we can inspire them to lower their walls and trust us. As you develop the emotional intelligence of the individuals within your organization, you can literally outcare your competition. Clients will be drawn to your authenticity, and they'll want to spend more time with you. They'll want to trust you and give you more of their business opportunities. So, this is your opportunity to stand out. Unless your competitors are also developing their emotional intelligence, they cannot provide the level of service and caring that you can.
Developing your emotional intelligence does not only impact your business and career success, but it also impacts your personal life and success. We're not two different people: one at work and one at home. We're the one person with one set of habits. And as we develop better habits, as we develop a greater sense of awareness through the development of our emotional intelligence, our results improve everywhere, not just in our career, not just in our business, but also in our personal life.
So, if we want better results than we're currently getting, we need to raise our level of consciousness and do the emotional labor that the change requires!
Phil Johnson is the Founder & CEO of Master of Business Leadership Inc. He has been an MBL executive coach for the past 21 years dedicated to building great people and organizations. MBL alumni are currently living in United States, Canada, UK, Europe, Japan, Africa, Australia, Middle East and Saudi Arabia.