Honing Your EQ

The concept of emotional intelligence (EI) was first popularized by psychologist/journalist Daniel Goleman in his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. The idea is of EI is being aware of our own feelings and other people’s feelings as well as being able to differentiate between the two and recognizing how to use that information appropriately. 

What Goleman and others have observed is that people with high levels of EI seem to be more mentally healthy and have greater success in their work. The term that is often used for the measurement of this trait is EQ, or emotional quotient. Similar to how an IQ provides a rough measure of intellectual ability, an EQ relates to how adept a person is when it comes to harnessing emotion.

Said another way, emotional intelligence is what allows you to “get” people in order to connect with them. For anyone in sales, having a high EQ can be a boon to your business. And it’s possible to raise yours with practice.  

Step 1: Recognize Emotions

The easiest place to begin is with ourselves. You can start learning how to be more cognizant of emotions by tracking your own.

You’ve just woken up—what’s the first feeling you can identify? Write it down. Set an alarm for 45 minutes later and jot down your predominant emotion at that time. Now set your alarm for an hour later and do it again. Keep doing this at random times and try to be as precise as you can. You feel good, but are you happy or kind of tickled or overjoyed? You feel mad, but is it anger or irritation or enragement? Emotion has nuance, and your job now is to notice the gradations.

After you’ve done this with yourself for a few days, try it while observing others. Faces are usually the biggest giveaway, so your “COVID pod” of unmasked family or friends is an obvious group to evaluate. But the pandemic also offers a unique chance to read body language since so many faces are hidden behind masks. What is the clerk at the grocery store telling you with their darting eyes or their hip cocked to one side? Are they scared or bored? Are they anxious or exhausted? What about the person on the phone? What is their pace of speech or volume or tone? Train yourself to notice.

Step 2: Label Emotions in Conversation

Now that you think you know how people are feeling, it’s time to find out if you are right. The easiest way is to ask.

“It seems like you are really frustrated that the claims process is taking longer than you expected. Is that right?” This phrasing is important, because it allows room for you to be corrected. You could get a response like, “You bet I am. It’s ridiculous that they’re so incompetent!” Or you could hear something like, “I’m more worried that they’re not going to pay me enough to fix my car.” 

You’ve now clarified that client’s emotion by labeling it, which will give you a stronger chance of avoiding conversational landmines and a better idea of where to steer the conversation going forward. 

Other ways to phrase emotional labeling include dialogue like:

“It sounds like you are feeling…”

“I can see that you are upset. Can you tell me more about what you are feeling?”

“Car accidents are really scary for many people. Is that how you are feeling?”

Step 3: Construct If/Thens

The next step to developing a higher EQ is to consider the consequences of a person’s emotion for your interaction. If someone is scared, they might crave reassurance but recoil from humor. If a person is angry, it may be more helpful to let them vent than to try to propose a logical solution right away.

Think through different insurance-related situations that could occur and how you would react to them. How would you feel if a tree fell on your house and split your kitchen wide open? How would you feel if you’d lost your job due to COVID-19 and had a large rate increase? How would you feel if you’d just had a baby and realized you needed life insurance but didn’t have it?

Then try to see those situations through someone else’s eyes. What concerns might they have that you wouldn’t? How might their reaction be different from yours? Constructing if/then situations like this can give you valuable practice and insights that you can call on in the future.

If you follow all three of these steps consistently for a few weeks or months, you should start to feel your EQ blossom. The final step then is to apply what you’ve learned to real-life situations and keep learning. Over time, you can improve your EQ and create fuller, more meaningful connections with both current clients and new prospects.

Hometown Quotes is pleased to provide insurance agencies with high-quality leads filtered by policy type, geographic location and more. Call us at 800.820.8921 to find out how we can help you achieve your sales goals.

Brendan Sera-Shriar

Brendan Sera-Shriar is the CMO for Hometown Quotes and a Staff Writer for Hometown University.

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