How to use Emotional Intelligence in business and its importance

November 30, 2021

Emotional Intelligence in business

Often coined a psychological theory only, Emotional Intelligence is one of the most powerful human elements you can bring to the business world, but its importance is often overlooked by those on a sprint to the top with their own agendas.

The thing is, no matter how hard and fast you try to climb the ladder, if you don’t possess the ability to read, understand and relate to a person’s feelings and the situations around you, then the cracks will soon start to appear in your journey.

To achieve success in the right way, you must understand the importance of emotional intelligence in business. Furthermore, you have to remember that whoever said that emotions in business are forbidden, was wrong.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Put simply, Emotional Intelligence is the ability to connect with one’s own feelings and the feelings of others and use this to shape how they react and engage. 

The theory was first developed in 1990 by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer who described it as:

A form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action.

However, it was Daniel Goleman who really brought the theory to life and defined its importance when it came to business success. According to Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) was more important than natural intelligence (IQ) in determining success! 

He laid out four elements of emotional intelligence, which over time have developed into five. Therefore, the five elements of emotional intelligence include self-awareness, self-regulation, internal motivation, empathy, and social skills.

7 aspects you can improve with emotional intelligence in business

If you think about the challenges and situations you are faced with on a daily basis in the workplace, you’ll realise just how much emotion comes into play.

Whether it be welcoming a new team member, dealing with a customer complaint, finding a member of staff not working as hard as they could, or even something as little as the printer breaking, each situation can be handled better if emotional intelligence is brought into the mix. 

Hence the importance of emotional intelligence in business.

Understand when issues between employees come up

Managing even the smallest group of employees can be challenging. Everyone might be working toward the same goals but each personality is innately different. Having emotional intelligence means being able to understand the diversity in the workplace and respond accordingly to each possible challenge.

As a business owner, you should always have a certain degree of empathy with each person that works with or for you. Without it, you can’t have cohesion as a company.

Better understand the client’s business goals

Emotional intelligence and empathy are both keys to generating business success. It’s vitally important to thoroughly understand the client’s present and long-term business goals on both an intellectual and emotional level in order to offer the best possible solutions. Once deep connections have been established then there’s no ‘selling’ needed as working together simply becomes an organic, collaborative effort.

Empathize with the customer experience

Emotional intelligence allows entrepreneurs to move beyond their products and services to empathize with the customer experience. Whether it is recognizing customer needs, addressing potential questions, or even understanding dissatisfaction or dealing with rude customers, having the ability to emotionally place yourself in the customer’s shoes is a great enhancement to your business.

For instance, if a customer complains about a service or product your business provided them, having high emotional intelligence prevents one from becoming defensive. Instead, it creates an opportunity to find ways to not only rectify the problem but make adjustments to the business’s customer journey, bettering service, and in the long run, increasing success.

Emotional Intelligence is an important business tool in a post-COVID world

Emotional intelligence has become even more important as a business tool in a post-COVID world. Everyone is responding to this pandemic with a little bit of information and a lot of emotion. People are doing what feels safe or feels like a return to normal, often without assessing risks in a realistic, accurate way.

Savvy business leaders should be using this as their starting point when they’re deciding thebest way forward. Customers will come back when they feel like they’re being kept safe, or when they feel like businesses are letting them be free of restrictions. Clearly, there is some conflict between these two emotional desires. Navigating this requires business leaders to know their customer base, and to respond to their emotional needs on this issue.

Helps in overcoming a business challenge

Emotional intelligence in business helps you overcome challenges in ways such as understanding why people behave the way they do, which helps maximize their engagement with work hence enhancing their work performance.

For instance, if you have an employee whose work performance is poor, you could be empathetic to them, try to be sensitive, and recognize their feelings. Get to the bottom of the issue, understand why their work performance is not good, and find ways to help them improve. 

Emotional intelligence will help you develop solutions such as offering them training services or teaming them up with another employee willing to help them improve their performance, making the workplace a better place for all.

Get more loyal customers

A higher emotional intelligence helps to get inside your customers’ heads. If you can understand your customers wants and needs on a deeper level, you can deliver those wants and needs more effectively. Satisfied customers are loyal customers, so in this case, having a higher emotional intelligence in business will serve your company well.

Building relationships

With the help of emotional intelligence, you and your business can skyrocket in the realm of relationship building and overall growth. Using emotional intelligence in the workplace can be seen as observing, comprehending, assessing, and responding. To go more in detail, some speak before they think, while others take time to process and comprehend everything before answering.

That same concept is applied when using emotional intelligence. You can observe your coworkers, clients, managers or more and have a better understanding of who they are as a person and worker. From there, you will be able to take a step back, comprehend what happened, and formulate the proper response. By using emotional intelligence you can defer a multitude of conflicts while staying professional, and ease stress during times of chaos.

Examples of emotional intelligence in business: How to use your EQ in real situations

Being truly emotionally intelligent will allow you to not only form an emotional connection with an audience but also internally with your team or externally with your clients or consumers.

As a result, an emotional bond will be formed which, as we know from a personal perspective, can support a long term, mutually beneficial relationship. Therefore, read the following examples of emotional intelligence in business and find out how to implement your Emotional Intelligence in different situations.

Emotional Intelligence when connecting with a team member

A member of the team doesn’t appear to be focusing on the job at hand. They’ve made a few mistakes and just seem to be elsewhere. It’s unusual behaviour for them as previously, they’ve won employee of the month and regularly smashes targets.

As an emotionally intelligent leader, you would recognise the behaviour is out of character, understand that perhaps something isn’t right, and contact the member of the team via email (as not to embarrass them) to ask for a quick chat, explaining that nothing is wrong, and you’re just concerned.

During the chat, the employee explains a family member has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness and they just can’t focus. As an emotionally intelligent leader, you’d understand how devastating this news is for them, ask how you can help whilst also explaining that work does need to be done and so if they are unable to, then someone else would have to take it on. You may then offer for the employee to take the rest of the day as an emergency holiday to process their feelings.

However, if you’re not emotionally intelligent, you’d likely not even recognise a change in behaviour or signs of emotional distress and instead, attack the employee verbally for not concentrating and blaming them for mistakes.

Emotional Intelligence to improve customers service

If a customer complains about a service or product your business provided them, having high emotional intelligence prevents one from becoming defensive. Instead, it creates an opportunity to find ways to not only rectify the problem but make adjustments to the business’s customer journey, bettering service, and in the long run, increasing success.

Using Emotional Intelligence to deal with rude clients

Using emotional intelligence to sort your best and worst customers is needed in business. Bad customers will drain your energy, eat up resources and never be satisfied whereas the best ones bring value to your business and help you grow. Hence, here’s where being emotional intelligent proves its importance once again.

Let’s say a customer requests a demo for your product a second time after they no-showed the first meeting without an explanation or follow up. And even though, misunderstanding when setting a meeting is happening often in business appointments, that was not the case. 

When the client was called out on it, he/she was angry and blamed you for missing the meeting. Needless to say, this is a red flag on many levels that if you sense it on time, you can’t prevent dealing with such customers on an ongoing basis.

Teaching Emotional Intelligence through behavioural flexibility

One of the best ways to understand how teaching emotional intelligence works are to look at examples of those with little behavioural flexibility and identify what behavioural modifications would make these people develop emotional intelligence, therefore more effective in their dealings with others.

In the book ‘Surrounded by Idiots’ by Thomas Erikson, he builds on the theory by the American Dr Susan Dillinger and Carl Jung the Swiss psychiatrist. They divide personality types into four categories: Blue, Green, Red and Yellow. Let’s explore:


General behaviours they display:
Maintain a low-assertive, low-responsive behaviour
Want to stick to the facts and get down to business without any chit-chat
Follow procedures to the letter, very conservative and analytical, and are resistant to change

Recommendations for appropriate behaviour modifications in these circumstances would therefore be:
Develop an understanding of the importance of feelings
Learn to make decisions based on intuition rather than facts
Be willing to bend the rules to accommodate others
Take the initiative


General behaviours they display:
Maintains a low-assertive, low responsive behaviour
Beats around the bush to be kind and tolerant of others
Takes deliberate actions based on feelings and relationships

Recommendations for appropriate behaviour modifications in these circumstances would therefore be:
Develop a sense of urgency and initiative
Learn self-assertion and strength of convictions
Be willing to take the initiative
Take a firm stand


General behaviours they display:
Maintains a high-assertiveness, low responsive behaviour
Wants to stick to business and to work independently
Blunt, overbearing, competitive, impatient – likes to control situations and people.

Recommendations for appropriate behaviour modifications in these circumstances would therefore be:
Develop empathy
Learn to relax and pace self
Be willing to listen and understand the feelings of others and be patient.


General behaviours they display:
Maintains a high-assertive, high responsive behaviour
Over-enthusiastic, over-optimistic and too much hype
Takes quick action based on feelings and relationships

Recommendations for appropriate behaviour modifications in these circumstances would therefore be:
Develop emotional control
Learn to use time more wisely
Be willing to analyse detail

Teaching Emotional Intelligence through behavioural flexibility

Since the birth of innovation marketing, consumer behaviour experts, business psychologists and anthropologists have worked alongside creative marketers to enable businesses to harness the power of emotional intelligence in order to persuade target audiences to react in pre-planned ways.

Whilst you may be thinking this is underhand or worse, it actually provides great benefits to both the business and the recipient.

What they do is enable business leaders to understand the emotions of their audience and think outside of the box to make their offering or product desirable. How? By changing perceptions. This can be achieved because they know how to use emotional intelligence.


Whether you are looking to boost creativity or operate more efficiently, emotional intelligence in business proves to be a helpful tool to boost your capacity to solve the problem at hand and generate valuable ideas.

By fostering heightened behavioural flexibility and awareness of the emotional connection/purpose and values that underscore your organisation as a whole, it is possible to translate this into concrete actions that form the basis of your organisational culture.

In doing so, this will ensure that the quality of your ideas is already aligned with your wider strategy, as opposed to generating more ideas but then losing them at the later stages because they do not tie to your end goals.

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