“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” – Peter Drucker
One of the top skills that most employers are looking for is Emotional Intelligence and Communication Skills. These skills are essential to everyday business and even more so during this unprecedented time with COVID. Let’s dive into these two categories and see how COVID may be subconsciously sharpening your skills.
So, what is emotional intelligence (EI)? EI is the ability to understand your emotions as well as the emotions of others. Having a high level of emotional intelligence allows you to easily understand what others are feeling and how your emotions can impact others around you. This skill is important in leaders of an organization because it can help you manage others as well as handle difficult situations.
There are five elements to EI: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Self-awareness is the ability to understand how you are feeling and how that can impact others around you. Self-regulation is the ability to stay in control and apply personal accountability to yourself. Motivation is the constant strive for achieving goals, examining your situation, and seeking continuous improvement. Empathy is being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes which is important to be a successful leader. Social skills include a variety of components which include active listening, conflict resolution, teamwork, communication skills, giving praise, and being able to accurately “read a room.”
During COVID, emotional intelligence is becoming more important. We all feel the stress of COVID. It is how we deal with that stress as leaders that can impact those around us. Having high self-awareness and self-regulation during this time will aid us in these trying times. I know that many of us have started hiking or mediation as a way to self-regulate or even become self-aware of our emotions. Now more than ever, I see a rallying of people that are motivating each other for their common goals. This surge of team motivation is clearly evident in healthcare, food service, education, performing arts and many other sectors
Empathy and social skills tie directly into communication skills. So, let’s look at the different types of communication and how they relate to emotional intelligence.
There are four main types of communication: verbal, nonverbal, written, and visual. Some of the ways that COVID has sharpened our communication skills is that we may be subconsciously focusing on more nonverbal communication. With all of the telecommuting, I know that we are having to focus more on tone of voice and facial expressions because we aren’t getting a lot of other nonverbal communication from body language clues due to the limits of working remotely. Most studies say that 80% of our communication is nonverbal. These include tone of voice, fidgeting, facial expressions, head movements, hand gestures, body posture, eye contact, touch, and physical distance.
Nonverbal communication is very important in being able to have a high level of empathy. Being able to read a person’s body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice will help you to be able to determine more of what that person is feeling about a situation. Also, being aware of your own nonverbal communication can greatly improve your interactions with others. It is important to send the right message verbally and nonverbally. During this time, there has also been a focus on the importance of having a little time to socialize at the beginning or end of meetings. This social hour allows us the opportunity to empathize with each other and to touch base with how everyone is feeling.
Communication is vital to good social skills. One aspect of communication that is paramount is active listening. Active listening involves being fully concentrated on verbal and nonverbal communication. It is being patient, showing signs of listening like eye contact & smiling, asking questions, reflecting upon the conversation, and then summarize the speaker’s comments to ensure understanding. During COVID, I have noticed that we all seem to be increasing our active listening skills. During our remote meetings, I see many people with their mics muted as a way to show respect for the presenter as well as a way to remind us to not interrupt them but instead be patient. Furthermore, most remote meetings actually have a scheduled time for questions at the end. Also, there has been an increase in meeting notes being sent out that summarizes the meeting which has helped with clarity and provides a written backup for those of us that are better with written instructions vs verbal.
Finally, the best thing that has come out of our telecommuting is the praise and appreciation for each other. Praise is an important social skill as well as a great communication tool to inspire motivation and teamwork. I believe that we are all reaching out during this difficult time for some positivity. I have seen an increase in “you rock!” emails and “you’re the best” memes. Positive reinforcement is a powerful leadership tool. As per usual, I will leave you with a quote.
“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.” -Anthony Robbins
About the Author: Bea Timmermans, Accounting Director at Exhibit Concepts, Inc.
Bea is extensively involved in a variety of customer-facing aspects for Exhibit Concepts, ensuring our business runs smoothly and our customers are satisfied with our service. With over six years of experience with the company, Bea is as skilled with accounting functions as she is with quality people relations.
As Accounting Director, Bea manages our internal accounting team of Accounts Payable and Account Receivable, manages all aspects of internal software, credit card contracts, customer storage, and handles audits. She is skilled in client and internal relations, working to take our new clients through the onboarding process, while also helping to train staff on processes, software management, and invoicing.