All Business is Personal

by William Childs

There’s a saying that’s used when describing any type of business interaction when the other party ends up being disappointed, “Hey, it’s not personal; it’s just business.” It sounds to me like an excuse for treating people poorly. Everything is personal, from how we treat each other in social situations to how we conduct ourselves when doing business transactions.

That insensitive saying should be erased from the lexicon and replaced with training for managers on improving their emotional intelligence. While I understand that not ‘taking it personally’ is a way to protect oneself from disappointment and rejection, someone who takes their work ‘personally’ is more loyal and dedicated at their jobs.

The American Psychological Association defines Emotional Intelligence (EQ) as a type of intelligence that involves the ability to process emotional information and use it in reasoning and other cognitive activities. That definition might scare some managers because the old school model was to leave your emotions out of any decision-making process. Yet, studies have consistently shown that emotional intelligence accounts for roughly 90% of the traits a leader needs to run a company effectively.

There’s a seismic shift occurring in how businesses are starting to communicate and treat their employees. Between the great resignation and quite-quitting, companies realize that this issue needs addressing, or they must face the added costs of finding and retaining quality employees.

Employee retention starts with building a positive communication culture inside a company. Sure, all the perks presently making the rounds at various companies are excellent. Still, there’s nothing better than when you work at a company where the leadership understands and employs emotional intelligence.

If leaders understand how to use EQ, the benefits far outweigh the risk. For example, Leaders with high levels of EQ are great listeners, show empathy, make better decisions, keep their cool under pressure, embrace change, and will strongly consider how their choices will affect everyone, not just the bottom line. Conversely, managers with low EQ often blame others for poor results, refuse to take responsibility when things go wrong, can be overly critical of others, and have aggressive communication styles.

A high EQ is something that a good hiring manager will look for when filling open positions. Because those individuals are better at managing conflict, excel at problem-solving, and are comfortable with change. Not because they believe they have all the answers but rather because their ego does not lead them. They tend to be open to new ideas and work towards finding positive solutions, all while avoiding office drama. These people find motivation when their passion meets their purpose. Money, title, and acclaim do not drive the high EQ individual. One of the top three reasons employees cited for changing jobs in 2021 was ‘feeling disrespected.’ The other two were low pay and lack of opportunity within the organization.

Managers must consider how financially damaging it can be when a dedicated, passionate, loyal employee leaves the company. According to Glassdoor, the average company spends about $4,000 to hire a new employee, often taking around 50 days to fill the position. That might not sound like much, but there are other hidden costs, too, like how employee morale suffers when good people start leaving with more frequency. Here are some simple tips to increase your EQ immediately. First, stop thinking that you have to have all the answers. Make an effort to listen more and talk less. Be willing to accept criticism without feeling the need to defend yourself. Be more introspective. Don’t stigmatize mistakes. Try and see things from different perspectives. And above all, stop saying, “It’s not personal; it’s just business.”

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