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What is Emotional Intelligence? Part 4: Relationship Management

By Dr. Alan Zimmerman

If you come from the old school of business, if you take a traditional view of leadership and work relationships, it's got to be very tough for you these days. You were taught to leave your emotions at the door when you came to work.

Indeed, your motto might be very much like Archie Bunker's famous line in the "All In The Family" sitcom. Whenever anybody showed too much emotion, or any emotion, Archie would shout out, "Stifle! Stifle!" In other words, "Suck it up and shut up."

Yes, it's got to be tough for you. Because all the research on Emotional Intelligence says that is NOT the best way to approach your work or your life ... if you want the best possible outcome. Indeed, you'll have a great deal more success if you master the four elements of Emotional Intelligence (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management) than you will ever have by simply focusing on being intellectually smart or good at doing something.

In Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, I discussed those first three elements. But the fourth element of Relationship Management may be the most important. After all, the driving purpose behind Emotional Intelligence and life in general is to build strong, healthy, effective relationships. So how do you acquire true competence in Relationship Management? For starters...

1. You need to move from having a Traditionalist's outlook to having a High Performer's understanding of emotions.
A Traditionalist thinks that emotions distract him, inhibit the flow of information, cloud his judgment, and make him vulnerable. So he believes that emotions have to be controlled.

Somehow, the Traditionalist mistakenly equates Emotional Intelligence with being weak, submissive, and Pollyannish. He mistakenly thinks he has to be super nice, overly polite, and sugar coat his language.

A High Performer knows better. He knows that people do not leave their emotions at home or at the door when they come to work. A High Performer knows ... that even though many organizational cultures place a high value on intelligence devoid of emotion ... that our emotions are often times more powerful than our intellect. Emotions alert us to dangers that are crucial to our personal, interpersonal, and organizational survival.

A High Performer understands that when people are angry, anxious, alienated, depressed, or have any one of a number of negative emotions, their work suffers. They can't think as clearly, take in information as fully, understand it as deeply, and respond as effectively as when they're upset. So it's to his advantage and everyone else's to cultivate as many positive feelings as possible rather than ignore people's feelings.

A High Performer understands that positive feelings motivate him and others, build trust, increase confidence, and even speed up the analysis of data. There's a big upside when feelings are understood and managed appropriately.

The best salespeople will tell you the same thing. They will openly admit that their success in sales requires the empathic ability to gauge a customer's mood so they can decide when to pitch a product and when to keep quiet. And once they have made that assessment, they choose the most appropriate interpersonal skills ... or Relationship Management skills ... to pitch their product.

2. You need to understand the components of Relationship Management.
Daniel Goleman, the original researcher in the field of Emotional Intelligence used that terminology. But don't confuse "management" with "manipulation" or "control." That's not at all what he meant.

Relationship Management is all about your interpersonal communication skills. It's all about your ability to get the best out of others ... your ability to inspire and influence them, your ability to communicate and build bonds with them, and your ability to help them change, grow, develop, and resolve conflict.

That's a tall order, but fortunately those skills can be taught and learned. And to the extent you master those skills, the more success you'll have in your relationships ... at work with your employees, coworkers, teammates, and customers ... and at home with your spouse, children, friends, and family.

Of course, it's not enough to merely understand the components of Relationship Management. That's merely intellectual head stuff that won't do you much good in the real world. So...

3. You need to keep on practicing the skills of Relationship Management.
And there are lots of them, some more important than others. I think these skills are critical. And my colleague, Art Sobczak, who is one of the most gifted sales trainers in the world, describes some of those relationship skills with great eloquence. Among other tips, Sobczak says:

  • A perception of a person's IQ goes down a point every time they say "like ... ah ... um ... you guyses ... and ... dude." It's like, not professional, and makes someone sound immature, ya' know? Join Toastmasters or take another speaking course.
  • Be selfless, curious, and grateful. You will be surprised at how it comes back to you.
  • Emailed thank-you notes are not acceptable for most things worth thanking for. Get a nice pen and your own stationery and lots of stamps. Yes, some people still use regular mail. The very successful people.
  • For whatever you want, ask yourself, "Who can give this to me? What do they want and care about? And how and what can I first do for them?"
  • Be obsessively interested in other people. Ask questions. Find out how you can help them. Follow up and stay in touch. Almost everything you achieve will be the result of the people you meet and the relationships you form along the way.
  • Always ask for what you want. In all areas of your life. Do not wish, ask. Few things will be outright given to you without you initiating it first. This alone can make you millions of dollars and help you become happier than you imagined. Trust me on this one.
  • Speaking of asking, you will remember the "yes" answers you hear and eventually forget about the "no's." If you want to count anything, celebrate your attempts. The "yeses" will come.
  • Pay complete, undivided attention to every individual you communicate with. If face-to-face, make eye contact. Listen as if your life depended on it. Don't interrupt. Pause after you ask a question and after they answer. Ask another related question. Don't shift the topic to yourself.
  • When you are in the presence of others, put the phone away and turn it off. Please. Paying attention to the phone instead of the person in front of you is the ultimate insult and makes you look like a self-absorbed fool.
  • Being five minutes early is on time. Showing up right on time or later is late. It shows a lack of respect for the other person or people.
  • Treat everyone you come in contact with as the most important person in the world. You will be surprised who can actually buy from you and give you want you want. You might also be surprised who can prevent you from that as well.
  • Smile more often than you don't. You feel better, and others react to you more favorably.

Great advice. I'll just add one other point when it comes to enhancing your Emotional Intelligence and Relationship Management skills. Remember there are no Lone Rangers. As TV commentator Hugh Downs said, "To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, 'Your end of the boat is sinking.'"

We're all connected. One little boy just couldn't figure that out. As he was quizzing his mother one day, "You say the stork brings babies?" he asked. "Yes," said his mother.

"And the Lord gives us our daily bread?" "Yes, dear!"

"And Santa Claus brings us presents?" "Yes ...!"

"Well, then," the little boy frowned, "Why do we have to have Daddy?"

Everybody wants to be happy and successful. That's a given. You can wait around hoping that happiness and success will fall in your lap, but chances are you'll wait a life time. If you want to ensure your happiness and success, get the Emotional Intelligence you need ... first ... and just about everything else will fall into place.

Decide on three Relationship Management skills you are going to focus on and improve this week.

As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman is focused on "transforming the people side of business." His keynotes and seminars are noted for high content, high energy, and high involvement that transform people's lives and the companies where they work. Click here to learn more about his programs and products, or to receive a free subscription to his weekly Internet newsletter.

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