Successful marketing is a delicate mixture of art and science, where proof-based metrics and measurements are the foundation on which to set goals. The building itself needs to consist of quality content. There’s no recipe for creativity and quality, although many have penned opinions on the subject. Creativity comes from people, ideas, and back-and-forth discussions. An environment in which that can exist depends on the emotional intelligence of its members.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (also called EQ or EI) defines our capacity for relationships. It’s the concept of emotional awareness, in the self, in others, in social situations, and in relationships.
Both EQ and IQ are critical for success in any marketing company, but high emotional intelligence is more highly favored in any workplace environment as people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70 percent of the time. Think of IQ like an empty bucket. It measures your capacity for learning—not the learning itself—whereas EQ is a tree. Each branch touches all components of your diverse skill set. Stress management, flexibility, presentation skills, trust, accountability, and even decision-making are all governed by EQ.
While IQ is fixed, EQ can be learned and improved upon over time. Regular attention, exercises, and maintenance to the traits of emotional intelligence help to shape creativity, communication, and quality of deliverables.
8 traits and tips for boosting EQ
1. Embrace “good enough”
Perfectionism in the workplace is a hindrance rather than a benefit. Dragging along qualities like never beginning a task or doing slow work, perfection leads to often far worse consequences than someone who can tweak a project or email to simply get the message across.
Tip: Start with the biggest project on your list, set a timer, and stick to it.
2. Know when to walk away
Coming into work sick isn’t about showing you’re a team player; it’s a performance. Working when you’re on vacation can just as easily send a message to your team that you don’t trust them to handle the work. Going at full speed like a hamster in a wheel leads to burnout, miscommunications, and abrasive relationships.
Tip: Turn off your phone email notifications and leave your computer at work.
3. Prioritize and focus
If everything is on fire, nothing is on fire. All projects have deadlines, but that doesn’t mean that level of prioritization won’t change or adjust. Especially in an agency environment, clients and client projects aren’t a calendar; they’re a sound board. Move them up and down as needed, adjust all the components of a project to follow a logical flow of execution.
Tip: Write down all your tasks for one day. Using a highlighter or number system, rank them in order of urgency.
4. Be all for one and one for all
Repeat after me: “It doesn’t matter how we ended up here. What matters is how we’re going to fix it.”
5. Place empathy above all else
Empathy is one of the founding principles and largest characteristic of EQ. People who possess strong empathic traits are fluidly able to put themselves in others’ shoes. They are curious about the conditions of others and often ask leading and follow-up questions.
Tip: Ask questions about thought processes. “Why did you make this choice?”, “What’s the thought behind this?”, and “How do you feel overall about this?” are excellent places to start. Do not have a response ready to go; let the answer hang there for a second. People often have follow-up thoughts, and it shows that you’re listening.
6. Embrace self-awareness
This one is a blog post all its own, but we know it when we see it. Someone who blames others rather than taking responsibility. A person who is saccharine in direct conversations but complains often about others. They are infallible, and there’s always a reason something wasn’t their fault. Managers who possess high EQ don’t sacrifice their team members when something goes wrong; they use the term “we” over “her.” They share failures and inadequacies openly and often.
Tip: Start by sharing something that could have gone better, or that slightly embarrasses you. Explore your vulnerability and fallibility.
7. Learn to move on
Things are always going to go wrong from time to time. Sometimes the instinct is to launch into a post-mortem, where each component of the disaster is looked over and studied to prevent further mistakes, but an emotional response is usually instinctively to roll up sleeves and solve the problem as a team—without holding a grudge or singling anyone out.
Tip: Swap out “what happened?” with “we’ll fix this.” Then leave it at that.
8. Learn to say “no.”
Kindness should not be mistaken for weakness. In fact, people who can prioritize emotions and manage themselves often say “no” to prevent burnout, stress, or broken commitments. Setting boundaries is a crucial component of life. We are not capable of saying “yes” to and doing everything all at once.
Tip: Practice saying “no” to something that is non-crucial, that you could technically do. “I won’t be able to do that for you this time. I’m focusing on some other areas right now.” Pro-tip: Try doing it without saying the words “I’m sorry.”
There is no key to success, but embracing EQ is as close as it comes. Crafting and honing this essential skill puts the people around you at ease, allowing your employees, co-workers, and clients to thrive without hesitation and inhibited ideas.