My car had been having starting problems, so I took it into the local dealership to be repaired. As there was nothing wrong with the battery, the workshop manager outlined the diagnostic procedure for a diesel-powered engine – they start at the back (the fuel tank) with its fuel pump and work their way forward, as the right pressure applied to the fuel all along the system is necessary for combustion to take place. I accepted this procedure and went home. After some time, I received a call from the workshop manager, who invited me to join him for a cup of coffee, saying: “These kinds of issues are better discussed face to face”. Upon arrival, I duly received my cup of coffee, we sat down, he established eye contact and then began the conversation by noting that emotion, concern and affection are relevant for any car owners, particularly relating to any expenses incurred for servicing and/or repairing the vehicles. As such, he felt that it would be the right thing to do to speak to me about the vehicle problems face to face, rather than an e-mail or faxed quote. I was duly impressed – mechanics have hearts too! The emotional intelligence displayed by the workshop manager secured my brand loyalty and trust.

All emotionally-charged issues, whether positive or negative, should be addressed face to face. This is particularly true of meaningful relationships, including those in the workplace. Recognition and acknowledgement or admonition and discipline – all are invested with emotional content and, as such, require personalised conversations. Emotional intelligence takes the following considerations into account:

  • Are there any positive or negative emotions vested in this issue? If so, how is this person feeling right now? What emotions are being experienced?
  • What is the most relevant response that I can offer to this person that will exactly identify with those perceived emotions?
  • Am I confident that I am leaving my own ego at the door? I know that there will come a time when I can express my own emotions, but not right now. I need to be fully focused on this person’s feelings.
  • As I offer my response, does the person resonate with it? Do I perceive that the person sees that I understand how he/she is feeling?
  • Am I sure that I am not missing something? Have I checked that I understand the issue comprehensively?
  • How do I facilitate the solution? Positive or negative, the person carrying the emotion should own the solution (e.g.: if my son comes home and announces success with his law degree, I can congratulate him and then ask: “How would you like to celebrate this evening?”)
  • Am I confident that I am fully present? Full presence elicits trust in the relationship. Distraction frustrates the other.

When issues are either positively or negatively emotionally-charged, emotionally-intelligent responses are required to identify adequately with the feelings of another. Emotional identification produces respect and trust in relationships.

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