Since Peter Salovey and John Mayer coined the term, “Emotional Intelligence”, in 1990, so much has been said and written about it. Daniel Goleman has been at the forefront in popularizing the concept through books and articles. Today, Emotional Intelligence has found its place in the daily vernacular of managers, leaders and professionals in all walks of life.
We have learnt that technical and conceptual abilities alone do not guarantee success in life and at work. Stories abound in the corporate world about executives with very high intelligent quotients and extra-ordinary technical skills who fail to perform when promoted to higher leadership positions largely because they lack Emotional Intelligence. We have also heard of people with average intellect and skills who made extraordinary success in such positions.
Facts emerging from several researches show that when an individual combines Emotional Intelligence with good conceptual and technical skills, a star is likely to be born. The story is the same in Public Relations. Emotional Intelligence is the defining point between a good and a great PR professional.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
According to Psychology Today, “Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your emotion and the emotions of others”.
Daniel Goleman has broken it down into 5 keys skills, namely:
- Self-Awareness – the ability to be aware of your own emotions and those of others. This includes knowing your emotional strengths and limits; knowing your drives, values and impact on others; and having a sound sense of your self-worth.
- Self-Regulation – the ability to keep disruptive emotions under control. This involves being aware and able to manage your emotional triggers as well as reframing stressful and challenging situations.
iii. Motivation – the ability to move oneself to achieve goals just for the sake of achievement. In other words, having the drive to improve performance, not just for external rewards such as money or status, but also for the sake of achievement itself.
- Empathy – the ability to be aware of the feelings, needs and concerns of others.
- Social Skills – the ability to build rapport with others and influence them to act in desired ways.
WHO IS AN EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT PR PROFESSIONAL?
Simply put, he or she is one who has mastered the five key skills of emotional intelligence. Mastery here is not just about intellectual comprehension; it is about demonstration or practical application of the five skill areas in life and in the course of work. You can spot them by looking for the following 6 key qualities:
- Self Confidence
Self confidence is defined as a firm belief and trust in one’s own abilities; the kind of basic belief that says you can do what is required to produce the desired result.
It comes from self-awareness; that is, knowledge of one’s strength and weaknesses. That is why emotionally intelligent PR professionals know when to ask for help and how not to ask for challenges they can’t handle because they know how far their abilities can go.
One other good thing about them is that they find it easy to admit their mistakes and apologize. And they never feel bad about constructive criticisms.
When you see a PR professional that is transparent and walks his talks, open and honest about personal feelings and about difficulties on issues he is trying to resolve, then you may have found an emotionally intelligent one. Candour is his watchword. This integrity is founded on his ability to regulate himself from acting on impulse and self-awareness – a sense of his self worth and capabilities.
An emotionally intelligent PR professional is naturally comfortable in stressful situations and comfortable with change. He or she can handle the pressures of difficult times and still deliver at work. Finding inventive ways of dealing with unexpected and devastating curve balls that change in life and work circumstances throw at them is the stock-in-trade of emotionally intelligent PR professionals. This is why they find it easy to navigate relationships with those others may call difficult clients. This is also why they master and apply communication technologies as they come and cope with the stresses of meeting deadlines.
Their strength is founded on adaptability. They know their strengths and weaknesses. It is therefore easy for them to identify ideas and actions to counter their weaknesses and enhance their strengths in order to better cope with pressures and overcome obstacles to their goals.
Passion for PR work and the drive to excel in the profession is another hallmark of emotionally intelligent PR professionals. They set very high standards for themselves and work very hard to achieve it. They struggle to make the most impact in the profession not just for status or pecuniary gains but for the sake of adding value to the profession. This propensity comes from self-awareness and self regulation; for they know their self worth and can motivate themselves to act in ways that mirror their sense of self.
Persuasion is the art of winning others to your point of view. It requires putting your targets in a mindset that allows them to accept your idea or point of view.
The starting point is to understand your emotional tendencies and how they can affect others; then understand the perspective and emotions of the other party before tailoring your ideas to suit their interests, feelings, motivations and cultural backgrounds, using positive and tactful language and tone, good body language and words that convey the right meaning in the situation.
Emotionally intelligent PR professionals are adepts in persuasion. They can express courtesy, kindness and respect in ways that melt the psychological boundaries and resistance of others. This is why it is easy for them to become members of the dominant coalition of any organization they find themselves, for they are able to use these instruments of soft power effectively.
- Capacity for Teamwork
PR professionals are often called upon to work in or lead teams. One of such is crisis management team. Emotionally intelligent PR professionals can make successes of such offers. They know that uncontrolled emotions can impact the dynamics and culture of a team negatively. With self-confidence and self-motivation, they inspire other team members to do their best. The ability to understand the feelings and perspectives of other team members make it easy to build rapport, interact freely, avoid and manage tension and conflicts and stimulate co-operation and success of the team.
ARE YOU EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT?
It is time to do a self-check. Do you have most of these qualities? If not,
do not despair. Emotional Intelligence can be developed. All it takes is an open mind, a willingness to practice for an extended period of time and a structure for feedback.
The first step to take is self evaluation. Check how you react to stressful situations and to people. Check whether you rush to judgement on a person or on an issue before you know the facts. Examine how your actions affect others.
Next, enlist others for honest feedback on your progress. Be open to the feed-back you get; otherwise, others will tell you what you want to hear. Perhaps, a life coach may be of great help.
Lastly, assess your progress from time to time. Then move again to address grey areas discovered.
Developing Emotional Intelligence is worth the effort. It is indispensable for success in all aspect of Public’s Relations. We work with people of different temperaments. We must ensure we don’t offend their sensibilities in the course of our work; otherwise, success will become a pipe dream. Yes, technical PR skills are important but it is crucial we make sincere efforts to become emotionally intelligent. As Daniel Goleman rightly said, “we are being judged by a new yardstick; not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also how well we handle ourselves and others.”