Develop your emotional intelligence to become a better influencer

“Skills like persuasion, social understanding, and empathy are going to become differentiators as artificial intelligence and machine learning take over our other tasks.” – Harvard Business Review.

Consider that difficult client you’re trying to close a deal with, or the international businessman you’re struggling to communicate with. Before you enter a meeting with them, have you thought about what their values and motivations are? Do you know what their social and cultural expectations are?

While technical workplace skills are essential, what sets us apart in today’s highly competitive working environment is emotional intelligence and the ability to build effective relationships.

Deborah Jeppesen, Director, Psychological Edge, has been working in the area of interpersonal influence for more than ten years for Australia’s Department of Defence. She says developing professional relationships, and becoming more influential, requires developing emotional and contextual awareness.

“If you don’t take the time to develop human-oriented skills, you’ll struggle to build trust and rapport with your customers, prospects, and stakeholders, and in turn, you’ll have a hard time influencing them,” Deborah says.

“It’s neuroscience - our brains are actually hardwired to see a new person as an opponent, until we know otherwise.

“The more that you know about who you’re negotiating with, the more likely you are to exhibit the understanding, empathy, or confidence that will help you to motivate or persuade them.”

Emotional intelligence isn’t the same thing as being polite. “It’s about having the capacity to recognise your own feelings and those of others, and importantly, to regulate those emotions,” Deborah says.

Psychologist and author of What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters, Dr Daniel Goleman, says there are four key competencies of emotional intelligence:

  • self awareness
  • self management
  • social awareness
  • relationship management.

“All four competencies come into play when we want to influence someone,” Deborah says.

“Our values and cultural beliefs shape how we view negotiations, as do the values and beliefs of others, and when we have an awareness of these factors, we can better manage them.

“For example, if you know your client values philanthropy then your strategy will be different to negotiating with a person who values winning at all costs and doesn’t care about the consequences,” she says.

Develop your emotional intelligence skillset in our upcoming short course Optimising Influence in Negotiation on 14 March 2018.

Female leader in a negotiation at work.
“If you don’t take the time to develop human-oriented skills, you’ll struggle to build trust and rapport with your customers, prospects, and stakeholders”
Deborah Jeppesen, Director, Psychological Edge