The father of emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman, expanded upon his EQ theory to coin a term known as social intelligence: the ability to read people and situations and respond accordingly.
While emotional IQ focuses on the ability to identify and manage emotions in ourselves and others, social IQ takes it one step further. Socially intelligent individuals don’t just recognize what a person is feeling, they also have the social aptitude to address that person’s emotions the right way. They play different social roles depending on what the situation calls for.
High-SQ individuals are great at building relationships in their personal lives as well as in business. They perform particularly well in client-focused roles like sales, marketing, legal services, financial services and consulting. By raising your social IQ, you can provide better service to your clients and customers.
Listen to what clients are saying (and what they aren’t)
We all know what it feels like to be dumped by a client, seemingly out of the blue. More often than not, that client has been sending signals about their discontent for months.
Good listeners take the time to hear and address client concerns. Extraordinary listeners seek to understand more than what’s being said at face value. Tune into body language and cues, voice intonation, facial expressions, subtext and your prior knowledge of the client to get a fuller picture of the situation. When you understand what clients are really feeling or asking, you are in a better position to respond accordingly.
“When you understand what clients are really feeling or asking, you are in a better position to respond accordingly.”
Know who your client needs you to be
No two clients are alike. Some may want you to take orders, while others may look to you to shake up the status quo with new ideas. One client may rely on you for all their day-to-day details, and another may call you when they need you to go to bat for them at a board meeting.
Socially intelligent individuals are attuned to the social roles they need to fill within different relationships. Think about what your role is with each client — a leader? A mediator? A big-picture thinker? — and how it helps you deliver the highest value to them.
However, if your client only sees you as a tactician or a “yes man,” you may need to use your social IQ to communicate how you can help them better in other areas. Socially intelligent individuals are known for handling difficult or awkward conversations tactfully and setting up situations as a win-win for everyone.
Pay attention to what surprises and delights your client
In client-focused industries, relationships matter. It’s not only about the work you deliver, but the level of service you provide for your client that creates a strong and lasting foundation.
Building relationships with clients takes time, trust, dedication and respect from both sides. Account managers with a high social IQ will pay close attention to their social interactions with different clients and understand what makes them happy, or what makes them tick. They will listen to their clients’ preferences and apply them whenever possible.
A luxury hotel or five-star restaurant seeks to anticipate the needs of its customers and exceed their expectations at every turn. Think of your client service the same way. If your client is a great presenter but bad with details, arm them with a list of key stats and data points for their next presentation. If your client was particularly impressed by a competing agency’s work, ask what they enjoyed about it and see how you can apply their preference to your next project. Knowing your clients inside and out goes a long way toward serving them better.
This is part 2 of iQ 360’s blog series on different types of IQ. Check out last month’s post on emotional IQ for brands and stay tuned as we explore a new idea on intelligence next month.