Have you ever had a meeting with someone, and afterward you felt that it could have gone better? Something was missing in the discussion. Either we didn’t “get” them, or they didn’t “get” us. All good relationships are built on trust and communication and especially with clients and donors when things get bumpy, understandably we can feel a little anxious. The good news is, there are easy steps that we can take to improve our ability to connect with current or prospective clients and donors in a meaningful, positive way. Building our Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is one way to do this. Research links EQ to better work performance and a greater ability to manage stress, Dr. Patricia Thompson notes. It also enhances relationships at work and sharpens strategic focus. Reading your own and others’ emotions is a specific EQ competency known as Emotional Literacy. And it can make all the difference in being able to develop and maintain productive client and donor relationships. What is Emotional Literacy? Simply put, it’s our ability to accurately identify and understand emotions -- both ours and those of others we interact with. How do you know if your Emotional Literacy skills need work? EQ assessments are one way to learn about your EQ strengths and areas that you can improve. You can also conduct a self-assessment. Are you finding that there are a growing number of times when you’re not connecting with clients or donors? Are you experiencing an increased incidence of conflict with them? Think back to the last time you and a client or donor didn’t connect for some reason. Did it feel like…
You’re overwhelmed or maybe blowing the situation out of proportion
You might prefer analyzing the situation
You tend to dismiss emotions that come up as irrelevant or feel that acknowledging them might be a sign of weakness
Perhaps most notably, the question that comes to mind after a difficult exchange is, “What just happened?” These may be signs you could benefit from enhancing your Emotional Literacy skills. What do strong Emotional Literacy skills look like? Six Seconds describes it this way:
You have a robust emotional vocabulary, and you’re comfortable using it in positive ways
You’re able to use your vocabulary to create a sense of mastery and insight, in describing your own emotions and those of clients
When you’re in touch with and able to “read” the emotional data you’re providing -- and that others are providing -- you gain insights into what drives your own behavior and that of others.
In turn, good Emotional Literacy skills make it easier to “act in the moment” and respond in ways that are mutually beneficial. Everyone wins. Growing your Emotional Literacy. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind if you’d like to develop your Emotional Literacy skills:
Try to practice mindfulness. Meditation is a wonderful way to begin observing what’s going on with our bodies, and what’s happening around us. It also has many health benefits.
Make a note throughout the day when you find yourself experiencing strong feelings. If something happens that really prompts those strong emotions, make a note of it. It also helps a great deal to write it down and journal for a few minutes about what you’re feeling and perhaps why. It’ll help you with creating your emotional vocabulary, and by taking a step back from the situation, you can engage that part of your brain that works on problem-solving, said Dr. Patricia Thompson. “That way, you can make better sense of your emotions and use them to your advantage when making choices about how to interact with others.”
Interested in learning more about Emotional Intelligence? Stay tuned for my new podcast series starting in November about the 8 competencies of emotional intelligence. Have an idea, question, or topic you’d like covered on an upcoming podcast? Please comment below and let me know!