Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Is EQ Better than IQ?

EQ v IQIt seems Emotional Intelligence – or EQ – is as important to being a great lawyer as that other type of intelligence.

And it also makes you much nicer to be around.

EQ is trending. Business school professors are writing scholarly papers about it. Human resource managers are conducting workshops on it.

And savvy lawyers are looking for it in new hires.

One ardent EQ advocate is American Express. The company conducted Emotional Intelligence training in its Financial Advisors division. The result: a marked increase in sales revenue.

What exactly is emotional intelligence? It is simply being smart about feelings.

Step one is self-awareness. Emotionally intelligent people are in touch with their emotions. They own their feelings – positive and negative – and don’t try to dump them on someone else. This leads to self-discipline and self-motivation.

Step two is empathy. Emotionally intelligent people make an effort to understand how others – clients, colleagues, judges jurors – are feeling. They understand it’s not all about themselves.

9 Key Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence

  1. You think in terms of relationships and connections. “This lies at the very heart of emotional intelligence—the ability to forge positive, long-term relationships,” writes Bruna Martinuzzi on American Express Open Forum. “We all know the old adage: We buy from people we like. And we like people in direct proportion to how they make us feel.”
  2. You ask what you can give rather can what you get. People with high EQs are interested in helping others. That makes them ideally suited for the legal profession, which is all about service. What does a prospective client want? How can I help them get it?
  3. You don’t do all the talking. Lawyers love to talk. We’re good at it. Unfortunately, it is impossible to talk and listen at the same time. And without listening – really listening, not just nodding your head robotically – you cannot know what the other person is feeling.
  4. You are not obsessed with facts. Don’t be afraid to ask clients about their feelings. “Just the facts, ma’am,” worked well for Joe Friday on Dragnet. Not so much for lawyers. We’ve got to peek under the surface layer of what happened to find out why it happened. Even more important: how does the client feel about it? Only then will we be able to understand how we can best help.
  5. You pick up on psychological cues. These can be verbal and nonverbal. Pay particular attention to body language. If during a negotiation session opposing counsel hops up without a word, storms out of the room and slams the door while exiting, it’s a good bet they aren’t happy.
  6. You know yourself. Are you a natural storyteller? Or do you have a more linear, logical style? Are you quick on your feet? Or do you perform better with notes and an outline? People with high EQ have a clear and accurate sense of their strengths and weaknesses. That way, they can capitalize on the former and minimize the latter.
  7. You are flexible. Feelings can turn on a dime. Adaptability is key. EQ means you can handle change and are open to new ideas.
  8. You are not a phony. Keep it real. Authenticity builds trust. How can you possibly be in touch with your true feelings if you’re pretending to be somebody you’re not?
  9. You are humble. Here’s a little secret. Clients don’t freak out or flee when their lawyer says, “I don’t know” or “I could be wrong” or “I made a mistake.” They appreciate the honesty and humanity. “People connect with – and trust – those who have humility, says business communication guru Mitch Anthony in Selling with Emotional Intelligence: 5 Skills for Building Strong Client Relationships.

So, now that you know all about EQ the question is: how do you feel about it?

Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He feels really good about this post. Contact, phone 919-619-2441; http://www.riskmanlawsolutions.

Source: American Express Open Forum

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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