Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Posted by Amanda Walsh

Public Relations Tactics is a monthly industry publication for PR and marketing professionals produced by Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). I recently read this article, “EQ is the new IQ: The vital role of emotional intelligence in public relations” by Susan Balcom Walton, M.A., APR, of Brigham Young University.

According to the article, emotional intelligence, is “the ability to be attuned to the people around us – to consider their emotions, and our own, as we make decisions and navigate through our organizations. Our EQ is our measure of that emotional intelligence.”

Walton brings to light some challenges that public relations professionals typically face on a daily basis. I can speak from my own experience as an account coordinator at busy boutique-size firm. Interfacing with clients, the media, as well as my own colleagues at work, can make for a constantly changing communications environment. In addition, PR professionals are often the spokespeople or the “voice” of a company or brand and receive a lot of pressure from various stakeholders regarding ROI and high expectations.

Gina Rubel frequently speaks about her favorite book, the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. One of the agreements, “don’t take anything personally,” is one she references a lot. In the fast-paced world of PR many new professionals may find it hard to stay in tune with their emotions when faced with changes thrown at them from every angle. It’s easy to get upset about a brusque email or someone’s tone of voice, but if we remember to not take things personally, we realize that whatever is motivating someone to act in a particular way is fueled by their personal issues, not ours.

Walton gives a great tip, “hear the words, watch the signs.” When working with others it is important to not only hear what they are saying, but take note of body language and cues. In addition, EQ requires an understanding of “the people we work with and what they need from us.” This relates to figuring out how to best communicate with not only clients, stakeholders and the media but learning that Harry in marketing likes to be called on the phone or that Julie the accounting manager likes face-to-face meetings. Many times we spend so much time on social media, emailing or texting that we can forget that we work with other human beings and that human interaction can be invaluable in building relationships.

Lastly, to work on your personal EQ, welcome and embrace feedback in order to grow. Engaging your co-workers with your perspective from your various interactions will become a valuable piece of the puzzle that you can bring to the table.

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