Emotional Intelligence - Skills for Business Professionals

Dr. Purushothaman
December 10, 2013

For more than a decade, organizations have been helping their employees improve their Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills. People at all organizational levels - from executives to administrative staff - experience the same emotions even though the challenges, pressures and demands they face at various organizational levels are quite different. People become internally self-managed and capable of making their greatest contributions when they develop their EI skills. And as they work in that zone of peak performance, so does the organization. The examples below detail how the development of EI skills can benefit various business professionals such as sales people, customer service representatives and technical professionals (i.e., analysts, engineers, information technologists, scientists, etc.).

Sales People:

Frequently, Sales People interact with demanding customers and prospects. They often face adversarial discussions over features, price, schedules, delivery, etc. As a result of these situations, the sales person and the customer can feel anxious, fearful, frustrated and sometimes angry. This can lead to a downward spiral of negative emotions where sales people are unmotivated, customers are unsatisfied and sales decline.

When sales people enhance their EI skills, they become more capable of controlling or managing themselves and thus the situation. They are not as apt to let the customer "push their buttons". They are more able stay focused on the key issues and not "give-away-the-store". Research has revealed that optimism is a critical sales trait in that the more optimistic a sales person is, the higher their volume and sales dollars. Optimism leads to persistence which leads to more sales. Enhanced EI skills enable the sales person to empathize with the customer allowing for better communication and faster, more effective problem-solving. Consequently, the strong positive customer relationships that are developed ensure better cooperation and higher sales when problems do arise.

Customer Service Representatives:

Throughout their day, Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) continuously deal with frustrated and sometimes angry customers. Through no fault of their own, they can find themselves being verbally abused. The customer's anger, frustration and rage can cause representatives to become nervous, mad, disgusted, and angry themselves. The CS supervisor may be required to intervene if the representative does not have a high level of EI skills to prevent the discussion from escalating. Or worse, inadequate skills may cause the company to lose that customer. When a customer becomes upset, he or she typically tells 10-15 friends about the poor treatment.

With enhanced EI skills, CSRs can easily manage their emotional reactiveness to angry customers, maintaining a polite, calm, and sincere attitude and conversation with customers. Loyal customers tell their friends. Higher customer loyalty leads to higher profitability.

Technical Professionals:

On a daily basis, Technical Professionals are required to do more with less faster, better, and cheaper. To complete their projects, they must work long, hard hours. They are challenged to work with many people from different functions, to create and innovate, and do tasks, in many cases, they would like to avoid. As a result, technical professionals may feel resentful, agitated, frustrated, anxious, and stressed-out much of the day. They may experience what is known as "emotional hijacking" which is a physiological response in the brain brought on by negative emotions that literally keeps people from thinking clearly. Creativity is blocked, communication is hampered, and more mistakes and errors are made.

Enhancing the Technical Professional's EI skills provides them with what they never were taught in school. They build interpersonal skills that allow them to get other technical colleagues to help them when they need it through learning how to manage their own emotional reactiveness to people and situations. Enhancing EI skills increases the likelihood that projects are completed on schedule, using the best, innovative thinking available.


Business professionals have achieved some impressive results as a result of attending EI training programs. Participants have reported a range of 20% to 40% reduction in stress and worry, 20% to 35% increase in personal productivity, 15% to 35% increased teamwork and similar improvements in personal motivation, management of emotional reactiveness, creativity, work/life balance and more. These increases can translate into positive return on investment for the organization.

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