In my opinion, Emotional Intelligence is more important to the client/VA relationship than anything else. Many clients remain solely focused on hard skills. Hard skills outline a person’s technical skill set and relative ability to perform specific tasks. Hard skills can get you into a conversation with a virtual assistant, but she (and you) will need good soft skills, to begin, and maintain a good client-VA relationship. In fact, the term “soft skill” (a synonym for “people skills”) describes the personal attributes that indicate a high level of emotional intelligence.
I would love to say I am an emotional intelligence guru, which I am not (yet) but after implementing things in this area of my life, growth is evident. In August, I was able to attend The Global Leadership Summit and experience many amazing speakers. One of the leaders who presented was Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0.
Before the summit, I had heard of the book and the concept of emotional intelligence (EQ), after all—I attended AssistU where we learn about many of the concepts and ideas around relationships, soft skills, and reading non-verbal communication. But, I had not expected to run out to buy the book immediately after Dr. Bradberry finished speaking and to read it within the next week. I was blown away by how much we all stand to gain from increasing our EQs!
EQ is not a part of your personality or intellect (IQ) which are somewhat unchangeable. EQ, coined as the “other smart,” is surprisingly the number one predictor of personal and professional success. The first 60 pages of the book explain all of this in detail, but here is a quick summary. EQ addresses four key areas:
- Social Awareness
- Relationship Management
“EQ is the foundation for a host of critical skills. A little effort spent on increasing your EQ tends to have a wide-ranging, positive impact on your life.” – Dr. Travis Bradberry
It intertwines through everything you do! Increasing your EQ will positively affect your:
- Decision Making
- Time Management
- Change Tolerance
- Stress Tolerance
- Presentation Skills
- Social Skills
- Customer Service
- Anger Management
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is much more than a book of concepts about EQ. That is just the first 60 pages. It then provides a code to test your emotional intelligence and, from page 61-255, a very comprehensive, personalized manual for improving your EQ! By implementing the tools and strategies for each impact area (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management) to grown your EQ, you will affect your tolerance for change, how you manage stress, and even how much money you earn.
Personally, I was a little surprised about some of the areas where I need work; where I scored lower than expected. However, the report’s analysis of these quadrants was startlingly accurate. I am telling on myself here, and I won’t make it prettier. I thought I would score higher in a few areas. For Self-Management, I got “This skill area is either a problem for you, you don’t value it, or you didn’t know it was important. The bad news is your skills in this area are limiting your effectiveness. The good news is this discovery and choosing to do something about it will go a long way in improving your emotionally intelligent behavior.” Gosh, that hurt! Self-Management is now my primary area of focus.
Self-Management covers my ability to “use awareness of my emotions to stay flexible and positively direct my behavior. This means managing my emotional reactions to all situations and people.” Was I surprised that score was lower than the others? No, not really. I struggle even naming my emotions sometimes, let alone stay flexible. The #1 focus area the test pointed to, for me, was “Not holding back when you know your actions and words will not help the situation.” Gulp! Yep, that can be me. The assessment outlined that I needed to “Count to 10” the self-management strategy #4 to cool down my limbic system and give my rational brain time to respond.
In the few short weeks since I took the test and began employing the strategy, I have seen an improvement, and I think others have, too. However, I had a moment recently when I forgot to count, and everyone in the room had a reaction. My twelve-year-old niece was visiting, and she was hangry. She was complaining about it for the umpteenth time over the course of the hour, and the lunch she wanted was in the toaster-oven heating up. When she whined again about being hungry, I failed to count, opened the oven, tossed the luke-warm pizza roll on a plate and shoved it toward her, saying, “Here, eat it cold.” Not my best moment. So, I clearly need to keep at this area with diligence.
The strategy explains how it all works, too. When I react quickly, without thought, from a triggered emotional response, I fan the emotional flames. My reaction harms others and can often lead to a heated exchange and end up in a full-blown emotional hijacking. I was fortunate this did not happen with my niece. She was shocked and quiet. It’s possible, especially with a tween, that I caused harm to our relationship through a breakdown of trust. I had to spend some time with her after things calmed down to apologize and mend things!
Other times I was able to remember to focus on my counting. The numbers and thought process engaged my rational brain and helped me regain the control and keep my emotions from running my show. (And made me a much better example for my nieces!) Can you see how this applies to every interaction, every day, especially our closest relationships?
It’s a process. And, without the self-discovery in the areas we need work, we wouldn’t know where to start or even really understand what happens when we have underdeveloped soft skills or a low EQ. The 10-minute test (passcode provided with the book) shows us exactly where we need to focus our attention.
As a virtual assistant, I can see the demands for soft-skills being more important than hard skills every day and in every relationship—for both clients and virtual assistants. Soft skills are applicable across all different business types and industries, as well as roles (yours as the client, and mine as the VA). Each individual in a relationship brings his or her soft skills into the mix and contributes to the health and success of the partnership.
When we all work to increase our emotional intelligence, it benefits each of our relationships. What could be better than that?
About our guest blogger: Amy Kazor is a learner, storyteller, journeyer, pathbuilder, oceanophile, therapy dog momma. Certified Master Virtual Assistant, and the AssistU 2016 VA of the Year who nurtures the businesses of speakers, authors and coaches.
Learn more about her at AmyKazor.com