It may seem obvious why having a high “emotional intelligence” is critical to our interpersonal relationships, but insisting on it in our professional lives is a relatively new concept. Emotional intelligence, also called emotional quotient or EQ, addresses our awareness of emotions, and is vital to any job that involves interacting with others; public relations no exception.
According to Psychology Today, EQ is “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” The publication says EQ generally includes three skills:
- Emotional awareness—the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others
- Ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks such as thinking and problem-solving
- Ability to manage emotions, to regulate your own emotions, and to cheer or calm someone else
It’s safe to say that anyone looking to hire a PR firm will likely be happier working with people who have a high EQ. That’s because a PR firm’s scope of work goes far beyond crafting press releases and fielding media calls. It entails a broader assessment of an image—whether of a person, a company, or an initiative, such as a product launch—that involves analyzing multiple dimensions to reshape, elevate, or create a vision.
With people, for example, we first must understand how they see themselves, then understand how they want to be seen (and, in some cases, how that differs from how they should be seen). Then, we need to determine how they are actually seen. Once we grasp that comprehensive view, we can cast a message that promotes the client and resonates with the target audience.
Much of that process is about probing into the minds of others, understanding the world through their eyes, and being attuned to their emotional state. It’s not only about being self-aware, but about being socially aware, or alert to how someone else is affected by what we say. If we successfully embrace EQ, we can better navigate relationships, reach new levels of creativity and imagination, and more easily seek to influence, inspire or discourage our audience.
So, if you are a company, executive, entrepreneur or anyone else about to vet PR firms, here are a few questions to ask to help determine if your candidate has a high EQ:
- Are they nice, friendly and attentive to clients’ needs? Are they humble? Humility is a sign a firm is willing to place the client’s agenda above its own.
- Do the people show a capacity to empathize? Are they able to acquire a deep understanding of people, industries, cultures, or professions that are foreign to them? Are they able to set aside personal biases and preconceived notions for an unfiltered view of a client?
- Do they “actively” listen to what a client is saying, evaluating the “important” points that get the obvious attention and the seemingly “unimportant” topics that get glossed over? Do they try to rethink overlooked angles?
- Are they able to process what they’ve heard, and identify a message that has emotional appeal? Do they offer new insights, or do they simply repackage what the client has offered?
You want your voice to be heard loudly and clearly, but you want deep, meaningful connections to make sure your message continues to shine.