When Emotional Intelligence and Social Media Collide at Work

Man texting on mobile phone outside of a meeting
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People who display high levels of emotional intelligence (eq) are hyper-aware of the impact their presence and communication approaches have on others. They are able to readily adapt their behaviors and communication styles to the situation. This issue now transcends interpersonal interactions and extends to our own personal social media communications. One improper or poorly conceived post, tweet or update can quickly turn viral and adversely impact both you and your employer.

 

Emotional Intelligence in Our Working Lives:

Emotional intelligence in the workplace is far more important today than it was just two generations ago. Our parents and grandparents worked in a world where manufacturing ruled the day. Workers were responsible for specific tasks, and they rarely interacted with others. They followed a process and there was very little room for interpretation.

Today’s workplace, however, is all about teamwork, cooperation, and communication. Communication is critical in all areas of business, and as technology continues to infiltrate all aspects of interpersonal communication, both verbal and written skills are extremely important.  Since so many workers depend on teams to get their jobs done, emotional intelligence is a critical factor for success. Employees at all levels—from hourly customer service reps all the way through the C-Suite—must exhibit the ability to read and react appropriately to others.

When employees are unable to manage their emotional intelligence there can be a negative impact on your organization. And when social media is added to the mix, the impact can go viral and be more significant.

Online Emotional Intelligence is Essential

We live in a world where we can share our thoughts and opinions on social media and instantly broadcast them to the entire world.

  On one hand, social media can be used as a tool to develop thought leadership and establish yourself as an expert in your field. On the other hand, one poorly timed or ill-planned tweet, photo, comment or post can land you and your firm in a boatload of hot water.

Online self-regulation is a critical skill — and it’s a skill that not everyone has a handle on. It can be difficult to follow and keep up with social media etiquette. It is also incredibly difficult to infer tone and meaning in 140 character messages.

People are quick to react to others, and they often forget that the entire world has access to that reaction. It is critical to understand how every word “said” online can be, will be, or could be perceived by the general public. Even a small lapse in judgment can be catastrophic for your reputation or the image of your firm.

Viral Tweets have cost people their jobs, from hourly service workers all the way through corporate executives. They have also damaged corporate reputations and impacted business effectiveness. Whether CEO or receptionist, everyone must begin to develop online skills that support success. There have been numerous examples of this over recent years in which people have lost their jobs because of a social media misstep, and because of social media, the world learned about their blunder.

Emotional Intelligence and Customer Interaction

Emotional Intelligence is not just important for internal and online communications. When you build a team of individuals who each have and display strong emotional intelligence, it will have a positive impact on customer relationships, as well.

Emotional intelligence has always been a critically important skill  for those employees who have direct contact with customers or the general public. When an employee comes face-to-face (or voice-to-voice, or even text-to-text) with a customer, they become the company to that customer. They must be able to read the customer’s verbal and nonverbal cues, they must respond in kind, and they must never, ever react inappropriately.

We all remember those interactions with a call center representative who was sympathetic to our problem even when we might have been extremely angry and frustrated.

We also remember the person who was unable to handle the conflict over the phone and all of a sudden you hear crickets and then a busy signal. They have hung up on you!

Tempering your response can be a challenge when a customer is angry, hurling insults, or even telling untruths. Employees with a high degree of emotional intelligence will always know how to react in these situations without escalating the problem. They will also know how to capitalize on happy customer interactions to help strengthen and reinforce the relationship.

The Bottom Line:

We used to think of emotional intelligence strictly in terms of leadership. However, employees at all levels must be able to exhibit emotional intelligence in all types of workplace and public scenarios. When employees are self-aware and tuned in to others, productivity and customer relationships will improve. And as a leader, it is your job to identify those who are challenged with their emotional intelligence and help coach them through these challenges so they can be a more productive and effective leader.

About the Author

Beth Armknecht Miller is a Certified Managerial Coach and CEO of Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. Her latest book is, “Are You Talent Obsessed?: Unlocking the secrets to a workplace team of raving high-performers. 

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Updated by Art Petty