Archive for Relationship Management

Emotional Intelligence and the Importance of Being Genuine

There’s an enormous amount of research suggesting that emotional intelligence (EQ) is critical to your performance at work. Recent research has tested the EQ of more than a million people and found that it explains 58% of success in all types of jobs.

People with high EQs make significantly more annually than people with low EQs. Ninety percent of top performers have high EQs, even a single-point increase in your EQ adds to your salary.

Suffice it to say, emotional intelligence is a powerful way to focus your energy in one direction with tremendous results.

But there’s a catch. Emotional intelligence won’t do a thing for you if you aren’t genuine.

A recent study from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington found that people don’t accept demonstrations of emotional intelligence at face value. They’re too skeptical for that. They don’t just want to see signs of emotional intelligence. They want to know that it’s genuine—that your emotions are authentic.

According to lead researcher Christina Fong, when it comes to your coworkers:

“They are not just mindless automatons. They think about the emotions they see and care whether they are sincere or manipulative.”

The same study found that sincere leaders are far more effective at motivating people because they inspire trust and admiration through their actions, not just their words.

Many leaders say that authenticity is important to them, but genuine leaders walk their talk every day.

It’s not enough to just go through the motions, trying to demonstrate qualities that are associated with emotional intelligence. You have to be genuine.

You can do a gut check to find out how genuine you are by comparing your own behavior to that of people who are highly genuine. Consider the hallmarks of genuine people and see how you stack up.

“Authenticity requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency, and integrity,” – Janet Louise Stephenson

Genuine people don’t try to make people like them. Genuine people are who they are. They know that some people will like them, and some won’t. And they’re okay with that.

It’s not that they don’t care whether or not other people will like them but simply that they’re not going to let that get in the way of doing the right thing. They’re willing to make unpopular decisions and to take unpopular positions if that’s what needs to be done.

Since genuine people aren’t desperate for attention, they don’t try to show off. They know that when they speak in a friendly, confident, and concise manner, people are much more attentive to and interested in what they have to say than if they try to show that they’re important. People catch on to your attitude quickly and are more attracted to the right attitude than what or how many people you know.

They don’t pass judgment. Genuine people are open-minded, which makes them approachable and interesting to others. No one wants to have a conversation with someone who has already formed an opinion and is not willing to listen.

Having an open mind is crucial in the workplace, as approachability means access to new ideas and help. To eliminate preconceived notions and judgment, you need to see the world through other people’s eyes. This doesn’t require you to believe what they believe or condone their behavior; it simply means you quit passing judgment long enough to truly understand what makes them tick. Only then can you let them be who they are.

They forge their own paths. Genuine people don’t derive their sense of pleasure and satisfaction from the opinions of others. This frees them up to follow their own internal compasses. They know who they are and don’t pretend to be anything else. Their direction comes from within, from their own principles and values. They do what they believe to be the right thing, and they’re not swayed by the fact that somebody might not like it.

They are generous. We’ve all worked with people who constantly hold something back, whether it’s knowledge or resources. They act as if they’re afraid you’ll outshine them if they give you access to everything you need to do your job. Genuine people are unfailingly generous with whom they know, what they know, and the resources they have access to. They want you to do well more than anything else because they’re team players and they’re confident enough to never worry that your success might make them look bad. In fact, they believe that your success is their success.

They treat EVERYONE with respect. Whether interacting with their biggest clients or servers taking their drink orders, genuine people are unfailingly polite and respectful. They understand that no matter how nice they are to the people they have lunch with, it’s all for naught if those people witnesses them behaving badly toward others. Genuine people treat everyone with respect because they believe they’re no better than anyone else.

They aren’t motivated by material things. Genuine people don’t need shiny, fancy stuff in order to feel good. It’s not that they think it’s wrong to go out and buy the latest and greatest items to show off their status; they just don’t need to do this to be happy. Their happiness comes from within, as well as from the simpler pleasures—such as friends, family, and a sense of purpose—that make life rich.

They are trustworthy. People gravitate toward those who are genuine because they know they can trust them. It is difficult to like someone when you don’t know who they really are and how they really feel. Genuine people mean what they say, and if they make a commitment, they keep it. You’ll never hear a truly genuine person say, “Oh, I just said that to make the meeting end faster.” You know that if they say something, it’s because they believe it to be true.

They are thick-skinned. Genuine people have a strong enough sense of self that they don’t go around seeing offense that isn’t there. If somebody criticizes one of their ideas, they don’t treat this as a personal attack. There’s no need for them to jump to conclusions, feel insulted, and start plotting their revenge. They’re able to objectively evaluate negative and constructive feedback, accept what works, put it into practice, and leave the rest of it behind without developing hard feelings.

They put away their phones. Nothing turns someone off to you like a mid-conversation text message or even a quick glance at your phone. When genuine people commit to a conversation, they focus all of their energy on the conversation. You will find that conversations are more enjoyable and effective when you immerse yourself in them.

When you robotically approach people with small talk and are tethered to your phone, this puts their brains on autopilot and prevents them from having any real affinity for you. Genuine people create connection and find depth even in short, everyday conversations. Their genuine interest in other people makes it easy for them to ask good questions and relate what they’re told to other important facets of the speaker’s life.

They aren’t driven by ego. Genuine people don’t make decisions based on their egos because they don’t need the admiration of others in order to feel good about themselves. Likewise, they don’t seek the limelight or try to take credit for other people’s accomplishments. They simply do what needs to be done without saying, “Hey, look at me!”

They aren’t hypocrites. Genuine people practice what they preach. They don’t tell you to do one thing and then do the opposite themselves. That’s largely due to their self-awareness. Many hypocrites don’t even recognize their mistakes. They’re blind to their own weaknesses. Genuine people, on the other hand, fix their own problems first.

They don’t brag. We’ve all worked with people who can’t stop talking about themselves and their accomplishments. Have you ever wondered why? They boast and brag because they’re insecure and worried that if they don’t point out their accomplishments, no one will notice. Genuine people don’t need to brag. They’re confident in their accomplishments, but they also realize that when you truly do something that matters, it stands on its own merits, regardless of how many people notice or appreciate it.

Bringing It All Together

Genuine people know who they are. They are confident enough to be comfortable in their own skin. They are firmly grounded in reality, and they’re truly present in each moment because they’re not trying to figure out someone else’s agenda or worrying about their own.

What other qualities do you see in genuine people?

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Surprise your clients with a “thank you”

When it comes to client loyalty, saying thank you can make a real difference. Courtesy and manners all play their part in establishing a trusting relationship and, as we have seen, genuine relationships are vital in a world where customer loyalty is increasingly rare.

We are told that manners cost nothing, but thanking clients properly does take time out of your day and we all know what a precious resource time is. However, if we think of time as currency, then remember how much time was invested in securing clients in the first place. Spending a little time to show your appreciation for a client costs you less than spending a much larger portion of your time winning over a replacement.

Spending your time is really what gives a thank you meaning in the first place, anyway. Your clients know exactly how precious time is and therefore appreciate you sacrificing some of yours in order to recognise their custom. If time had no value, a thank you would just be an empty gesture.

A simple email is an easy way to say thank you and let a client know that you appreciate their business. Given that the time invested is what gives thanks its value, it’s always worth considering going beyond the simple and easy.

Admittedly, if you want to go beyond the simple, you need to know your client. Not everyone would appreciate a hand written letter, but many would. You would have to know the likely response from clients if you were planning to invite them to a thank you function or event. Whatever method you might use to demonstrate your appreciation, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that it is a thank you.

There’s nothing wrong with thanking clients at Christmas time or when you have reached a milestone in your work together. However, much like the way in which ‘flowers for no reason’ are often the most appreciated, a stand-alone thank you, not tied to anything else can have a significant effect.

Most importantly, a thank you should be what it says on the tin. Though it may seem a good idea for a thank you email, letter, gift or event to be combined with or a prelude to a new pitch or proposal, it is unlikely to impress. The meaning is lost and people are likely to feel tricked or trapped. There’s nothing wrong with simply saying thanks.

Courtesy makes your business or organisation stand out from the crowd and goes a long way towards forging strong professional relationships which will continue to present opportunities. The potential benefits of showing a little gratitude vastly outweigh the costs to you. Thank you for reading.

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Is Customer Loyalty an oxymoron or can it be earned?

How many Twitter followers do you have? How about LinkedIn connections? How many people ‘like’ your company’s Facebook page? Whichever form of social media you choose to utilise for work (and you really should be using some form of social media by now) you will have noticed the emphasis placed on increasing your numbers.

This gamification of business (gathering greater numbers of followers, as you would points in a game) makes clear a trend that has been around long before social media made the process so overt. The success of your website was always measured in new hits. Before websites, a skewed and potentially unhelpful bias towards new business already existed.

This is fully understandable – attracting new clients is essential for any business or organisation. However, the problem arises when the pursuit of the new leaves little room for existing clients. Customer loyalty is not what it once was and, whatever product or service you offer, it is quite normal for clients to be looking around to see what alternative providers are out there. The fact that people are now more connected than ever makes this window-shopping incredibly easy.

If you are constantly looking over the horizon for the next client instead of giving existing clients the attention they deserve you cannot blame them for deserting you. The ‘attention they deserve’ involves more than just doing the job on time and fixing any problems that occur. Think about anticipating needs, pre-empting problems and going the extra mile – the things you were willing to do to win new business.

If anything, in a time when business loyalty is scarce and individuals frequently bounce between companies hoping for a better deal, established clients are the most worthy of that extra mile. Often attention itself constitutes this extra mile. Most people rank time as their most precious resource. Client realise this and will acknowledge and appreciate time spent on them beyond responding to a direct question or request.

If it’s so easy for clients to leave you need to focus on making it easy for them to stay. Be available. Be proactive rather than re-active and consider contacting established customers outside of any mass circulated marketing. We have looked at the importance of trust many times and it is trust that you need to build in order to retain clients.

If a client trusts you it is less likely they will want to leave in the first place. Even if they are tempted to jump ship, the decision becomes that much harder if you have created a working trusting relationship with them. Put yourself in a client’s shoes – can any number of special offers or introductory rates from a complete stranger outweigh the benefits of working with someone you implicitly trust to do the best for you?

The decision is not a foregone conclusion, but a bond of trust is a powerful factor in making it. Focus on building this trust as repeat business always brings more value in the long run. Put relationship building and customer retention above client acquisition in your list of priorities. Make time for existing clients, go the extra mile, and say thank you.

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Authentic Listening

Most people will admit that they need to listen more. There are many areas of our professional lives that we feel we could or should improve, but listening is a skill area that regularly crops up in people’s self-diagnostics.

Unlike other bad habits which we may be completely unaware of until someone else points them out, not listening properly is something that we all know to be wrong yet most of us will plead guilty to having done at some point.

We all know we need to listen properly and we’ve all heard the old adage about having two ears and only one mouth; the trick is ensuring that we do use those ears. This begins before the conversation even starts. Important conversations can crop up spontaneously, but if you are arranging to meet someone who you know has something important to discuss with you, make sure you are in the right frame of mind.

If you know, for example, that another meeting later that day will be on your mind, show your client some respect and schedule a time to see them when you can (to the very best of your knowledge) give them your undivided attention.

That attention needs to continue once you actually meet. It might seem patronising to remind you that phones, tablets and laptops can be distracting but they frequently seem to creep into meetings – not only acting as a temptation to you, but allowing other parties not even present to distract you with incoming messages.

Once you’ve put away the gadgets you need to remember to put away your tongue. Interviews and assessment centres have built habits in all of us that make us want to have our say. We feel we need to be seen to be contributing. However, if you’re trying to listen, you need to rein in any desire to speak before your client’s had their say.

Great care is taken with a sterile scientific experiment to prevent any alien contaminants from influencing the outcome. Similarly, anything you choose to add to an individual’s train of thought or stream of conscience serves to influence its path. If you need to demonstrate agreement, show empathy or encourage someone to continue, there are a host of non-verbal gestures available to you.

The one occasion on which you should interrupt someone you’re trying to listen to is if you need something clarifying or explaining. Even if you think nothing is unclear enough to warrant an interruption, once the speaker has finished you should confirm that you fully understand what has just been said. Briefly recapping the key points and issues in your own words is a great way to do this. It ensures that you are both singing off the same song sheet and demonstrates that you have done what you set out to do – you have listened.

Hearing is a natural ability. Properly listening is a skill. Listening, like any other skill can be actively employed, worked on, and improved. You need to choose to listen to someone. You need to ensure you devote headspace to the person in question, give them a platform, remove external distractions, and confirm understanding. Genuine listening connects you to the speaker, connections lead to trusting relationships and it’s in these relationships that you find value.

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Why Relationship Quality Is Better Than Relationship Quantity

Do your clients actually like you? People pay close attention to the number of ‘likes’ they get for their LinkedIn updates and Facebook posts, but building genuine personal relationships with people in the real world is incredibly important too.

Hollywood films are keen to point out the shallowness of popularity whilst championing the outsiders and, to an extent, the quantity of your contacts in the real, professional world is not necessarily an indicator of success either.

However, it can be. The more relationships you strike up and the more contacts you make, the greater the odds are of translating these connections into sales. The outsider, unconcerned with acceptance is a hero of fiction. In the real world, your business or organisation needs relationships with people.

More important, though, is the quality of these relationships. Even if you are able to deliver your clients success, as they define it, if they do not have a good relationship with you and actually like working with you, they will always be looking for alternatives.

If they discover somebody they get on with better than you who can deliver the same results, your days are numbered.

There is much written about practitioners being too concerned with being liked to make the tough decisions and perform effectively. Certainly, you cannot compromise your professional integrity or values in order to curry favour or remain popular but by building trust, establishing a relationship and using emotional intelligence to connect with people you can make the tough calls without being seen as the villain.

It is in your interest to build this trust and it begins at the beginning. If people you meet at networking events get to like you and “rate” you for who you are and what you can provide, you are more likely to achieve a sale in due course.

If you manage to build a good relationship with a new contact, then not only does it increase the likelihood that you are creating a future client and/or a route to market, but you may find that they have something which would benefit you or someone who could be of use to you. A valuable symbiotic relationship could be taking root.

Wanting to be liked for the sake of being liked and to satisfy your own vanity is not a helpful way to operate. Generating a professional relationship where each party not only appreciates the service provided by the other but genuinely enjoy working together can be hugely beneficial to everyone involved. Life’s not a popularity contest but real friendship can often mean more than a signed contract.

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