The world is ‘on edge’ these days.  Emotions are running high. Small businesses in particular are impacted, since happy customers are the backbone of any business.


Now more than ever, it’s time for you and your employees to practice emotional intelligence. This skill set of understanding and managing your emotions, as well as those of the people around you, is essential for those in public-facing roles, both online and offline. Mari emotional intelligence pic.jpg


Small tweaks in the way you handle customer support will make a huge difference in your business’ success, during coronavirus recovery and beyond.


Emotional Intelligence & How it Impacts You


When emotions go up, intelligence goes down. It’s that simple.


Ever notice how when a person smiles, laughs, or is kind, it can have a positive impact on your mood? The opposite is also true.


When an agitated person enters your realm, it’s human nature to get triggered and have a strong emotional reaction. This damages your health - your body gets into fight or flight mode; you release stress hormones. This can wear on your body over time, so you must be cognizant of it. Keep your immune system strong, manage your stress, and prioritize your emotional health so you can be the one having a positive effect on others.


A little bit of compassion, empathy, and genuine care goes a long way, regardless of your client or prospect’s emotional state. In fact, according to a report by the consulting firm Deloitte, customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies not focused on the customer.


You can improve someone’s day by tuning in to their needs and providing them with an outstanding experience at your small business. You can even turn a wary prospect into a long-term customer simply by using solid soft skills to make them feel genuinely important.


Soft Skills that Improve Your Emotional Intelligence


Whether your interaction is in person, on the phone, or online, similar rules apply. When you are interacting with a client - whether they are in a regular or amped-up state, stay positive, helpful, and genuine.


Here are 5 key tactics that you and your team can use every day to improve your emotional intelligence.


1. Listen


When a customer is upset, don’t make assumptions or jump to conclusions. Listen deeply … listen between the lines…try to hear what’s not being said.


Within reason, allow the customer to ‘empty out’ and explain what’s happening and why they are upset. The more you can simply ‘hold space’ for this fellow human being, even for a few short moments, diffuses intense emotions.


This will make a vital difference.


2. Build Empathy


Many business communications are fragmented, fleeting and hasty. This is especially true online, but even in person people tend to be in a rush. Expressing empathy enables you to draw others out, show that you care, serve your marketplace, and enhance your small business’ reputation as a quality company.


Simple and effective ways to build empathy include:


  • Ask someone their name. Sometimes individuals don’t immediately reveal their first name - or else they’ll use an alias on social media. If they don’t offer their name, just ask.

  • Use the person’s name. A person’s name is the sweetest sounding word in their entire vocabulary, and it’s a huge part of their identity. When you use a person’s first name in a natural way while communicating with them, you’ll instantly build more rapport and empathy. This is one of my personal favorites.
  • Find out one fact about the person. If you are on the phone or in person, build rapport through conversation. If you are interacting solely online, check their bio on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn (depending on where you’re communicating), or try a quick Google search to gather a bit more information about them. Once you know something about them, mention it in a natural way. It could have something to do with their profession, education, “likes,” hobbies, or some other facet of their personality or preferences. The idea is to make a genuine emotional connection.


Building empathy should be easy, since businesses are more human than ever. When you pay attention to your prospects and clients, you’ll discover that most everyone has very similar wants and needs. They want to be heard and understood, to belong, to know that they matter, and that they make a difference.


3. Take A Breath


Strive to never respond to anything when you’re emotional yourself. Remember, if you’re reactive, you’re not thinking clearly and may say something or act out in a way that you’ll later regret. Best to take a long, slow deep breath and have a method like an internal mantra, telling yourself to not take this person or situation personally.


This can often be easier to do online vs. in person, but one of my favorite mantras before hitting the send/post/update/publish button is, “What is my deepest intent?” Let me tell you, that question has kept me out of a few knee-jerk reactions over the years! For example, if my intent is to make the other person wrong, well I’m probably still triggered and need to go calm down.


If you ever face a negative situation in which you feel attacked, you have an opportunity to lead by example with grace, dignity, and compassion, best you can.


4. Prioritize Your Health


You can’t help your team, coworkers, or clients, if you’re not taking care of yourself. This includes good sleep, eating well, regular exercise, social support, and having at least one pursuit that brings you joy. Maintain your health and sense of balance with a daily self-care routine that works for you. This might include deep breathing, meditation, Quigong, yoga, or similar practices.


Keep an eye out for your coworkers and team. If someone starts to exhibit signs of ill-health and stress, find an appropriate moment to speak with them gently or let a manager know who can address the situation. The sooner you diffuse negative situations, and help someone on the road to recovery, the better.


5. Actively Check Your Social Media


Exhibiting emotional intelligence does not only apply to one-on-one customer service in your store or online. Interaction on social media also counts. Be cognizant of what your business posts, as well as how you engage with your audience online.


Much like children who throw tantrums, most individuals who feel the need to attack others online are simply seeking attention. If you respond at their level, you’re essentially giving them what they want. And, by engaging with that person publicly, you’re potentially introducing the attacker to your fans and followers. As a result, you may alienate a cross section of your own online community and target audience.


If something looks fishy, don’t let it escalate. Shut it down right away.


If you take only one thing from this article, in any and all customer situations, let this phrase be your guide: “Handle with care.”


About Mari Smith


Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events. mari headshot.png


Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.


Web: Mari Smith or Twitter: @MariSmith


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

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