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Author says emotional intelligence is key to job security

October 05, 2009|By NATALIE BRANDON / Special to The Herald-Mail

With the United States in an ongoing unemployment crisis, two authors have offered strategies to help you keep your job.

"Fifty-eight percent of job performance is affected by emotional intelligence," said author Travis Bradberry during a telephone interview with The Herald-Mail.

Bradberry and Jean Greaves have updated their 2004 bestseller "Emotional Intelligence Quick Book" and retitled it "Emotional Intelligence 2.0" (TalentSmart, 2009).

Bradberry said emotional intelligence is more than just feelings. It involves understanding and managing your emotions and the emotions of others. This has an impact on many aspects of life, including working.

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"A person with the ability to understand emotions in the moment, to use that awareness to manage behavior, to read the emotions of other people and use those things to manage relationships is someone who is highly emotionally intelligent," Bradberry said. "It's a skill that helps you hang onto your job these days."

The Maryland Department of Labor reported that unemployment in Washington County was 9.9 percent in August.

"Learning about emotional intelligence teaches you to roll with the punches, understand your emotions, understand the emotions of other people and how to approach tasks more efficiently," Bradberry said, "It arms you with the tools to navigate those situations."

Local managers contacted for this story agreed that customer service is important in their workplaces.

"Every job description that we have needs excellent communication skills and the ability to deal with the public effectively," said Bill Sonnik, director of the Human Resources Department of Washington County. "As long as the employee does what they're supposed to, their job performance will be rated as satisfactory or better."

He said he believes individuals who display higher emotional intelligence will be more successful in the workplace.

Karen Cook, assistant manager of Gap Outlet at Prime Outlet Center, south of Hagerstown, said she is more likely to hire an employee who is more emotionally aware and can read the people around them.

"When you're dealing with customers, you have to be able to read them and their needs," Cook said. "It's very important to actively listen and look for customer cues."

She said physical cues include smiling (indicating satisfaction), crossing arms (unhappiness or concern) or squinting eyes (unhappiness or concern).

"Those cues are important when a sales associate wants to ensure customer satisfaction," Cook said.

In "Emotional Intelligence 2.0," readers are invited to test their "EQ" -- an acronym researchers have created for rating emotional intelligence.

"EQ differs from IQ, because a person's EQ can change," said Bradberry.

He said "Emotional Intelligence 2.0" offers 66 strategies readers can use in their everyday lives to detect strong and weak points in their EQ and take steps to strengthen their weak points.Misty Sosedee, food quality manager at Bob Evans restaurant on Railway Lane in Hagerstown, thinks having a high emotional intelligence is like having a sixth sense.

"Being able to read another person's emotions is a great skill, especially within a business that deals with people all the time," she said. "Customers will want to come back to see those employees again."

Bradberry reports that readers are pleased with "Emotional Intelligence 2.0." The book highlights five core emotions that are said to be shared by all human beings: happy, sad, anger, fear and shame.

"Every emotion funnels back to the five core emotions," said Bradberry, "For instance, the first level of shame is discomfort. The second level is guilt. The third level is mortification."

He also admits that there are some emotions that are hard to put into these categories.

"You can't turn an emotion on or off. All you can do is choose what to do in response to it," he said.

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