by Scott Lewis
Part 3 of 4
Becoming more EQ-aware (emotional-intelligence quotient) is a learned skill. Knowing it and applying it in day-to-day interactions is something that takes a lot of practice and dedication to improving.
Many factors drive the practical application of EQ awareness. These could include stress in the workplace or at home. People who are overwhelmed by stress tend to have lower EQ awareness meters. As employers, it is important that we understand stress factors within our businesses and try to lower stress and build team camaraderie among employees.
Research has shown that IQ and EQ work in tandem. IQ alone will not ensure success in personal life or business. In fact, research has shown that the most successful people are those who can connect on a personal EQ level and then drive interaction on the IQ level. I have seen this in action at Winning Technologies: Clients who really like a technician on an EQ level will be understanding and in some cases defensive of the technician when they are struggling to solve issues on an IQ level.
The vast majority of service calls that come into our help desk come in two forms: email and phone calls. With these being the two primary means of communication, how do you assess someone’s emotional status?
Most EQ-based communication comes in the form of body language, through facial expressions and posture changes. Our goal has always been to have the ability to assess the situation and communicate back what we heard them say. Then we turn that into a collaboration process to solve the issue in an effective and positive manner. I call this process “EQ transition,” which is taking a person on an EQ high and lowering that EQ to the point where we can focus on the issue that is frustrating the customer, which is IQ-based, equating the EQ to IQ transition.
The assessment of another’s EQ status can be difficult to detect. Learning how to manage responses in a manner that will not continue to escalate the EQ status is another skill that takes continued practice.
Leon Seltzer, PhD, who writes for Psychology Today, has come up with an “Anger Thermostat,” which is designed to help you determine not only your EQ state of mind but also others’ EQ and what might be the underlying emotional driving force. Seltzer’s theory is based on the idea that you have to be aware of your own emotional thermostat so that you have an understanding of when and why you are starting to become frustrated or starting to reach an elevated EQ status. This will allow you to detect the warning signs that your EQ level is rising and what factors are causing it. Is it stress, frustration or something else? The underlying principle is that as your EQ status rises, your ability to relate to another’s already-heightened EQ status lowers and your ability to relate on a personal level with empathy and sympathy lowers.
Understanding what is driving a heightened EQ status in yourself and others is key to the Anger Thermostat. Emotions like disappointment, anxiety, embarrassment and powerlessness can drive reactions such as feeling disregarded or unimportant. The less those feelings are acknowledged, the higher the EQ state or emotional reaction can be.
Over the years I have talked a lot with people about what I call the “Perception Gap.” This is the gap between the facts and the feelings of an interaction or in this case the IQ versus the EQ. As do most service-based businesses, we track a lot of information regarding our customers going back a number of years. We can tell you at any point in time factual information about a situation – who reported the issue, the time, the date, who worked on it and when. We trend and track just about anything that can be trended or tracked around a customer interaction, factual information or IQ. However, the EQ around that interaction is in the interpretation of the data collected, which is often lost in translation.
The Perception Gap is really another way of simplifying and relating to IQ versus EQ and how the data collected gets interpreted for process improvement. In our training we teach about how to narrow the gap between the facts and the perception of the service provided to the client in order to be more client-EQ-aware. It is a difficult and ongoing process of trying to explain to high-IQ individuals the importance of the emotional side of the equation. They struggle to identify with how people can still be upset even after they got their problems fixed.
The Perception Gap is a dynamic measurement; it changes with every interaction with the client regardless of how that interaction takes place – on the phone, via email or in person.
Because the Perception Gap is a dynamic measurement, at times people underestimate its power and the importance of managing it with every interaction. People become comfortable and complacent in how they manage the Perception Gap or EQ state of the individual. This complacency can have an impact on the overall relationship with the client and the individual technician or even reach a higher corporate level. Once employees feel that level of comfort and a tiny bit of complacency set in, there is a big shift in the EQ state of the client and the Perception Gap gets wider. This is because when you feel comfortable, you let your guard down or make assumptions about how the client feels about you on a personal level. Then something unintentional will be said or done and you may find yourself in a bad EQ state with your client.
This also reinforces why identifying people with naturally low EQ meters is so important to the overall success of the business. This information is key to our business, not only from a perspective of tracking activity and billing processes but also in the areas of risk management and litigation prevention and at times to reset expectations around what the factual information shows.
Scott Lewis is the president and CEO of Winning Technologies Group of Companies. Scott has more than 30 years of experience in the technology industry and is a nationally recognized speaker and author on technology subjects. Scott has worked with large and small businesses to empower them to use technology to improve work processes, increase productivity and reduce costs. Scott has designed thousands of systems for large, medium and small companies. Winning Technologies’ goal is to work with companies on the selection, implementation, management and support of technology resources. Learn more about Winning Technologies at www.winningtech.com or call 877-379-8279.
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