I learned about emotional intelligence when I was trying to help a chef communicate better with his team. He was an amazing chef but he was quickly losing control of his kitchen due to his inability to connect with his team authentically. Interestingly, he did not notice the dissension and had no idea how disgruntled his staff felt.
This chef’s team complained that he was hasty, impersonal and never gave them positive reinforcement. The truth is he was not taking the time to get to know the team on a more personal level. He had no idea what motivated his team, and did not understand their emotional needs. Not because he didn’t want to, but because he was completely unaware of them.
However, this chef was interested in growing – he just didn’t know where to start. So, I talked with him about emotional intelligence, also known as EI. I bought him a book on EI and read it myself so we would be able to discuss the different ideas. My desire to help him ended up giving me an entirely new level of knowledge as well.
We both learned that a lack of emotional intelligence disconnects you from all the people that surround you daily. EI is not only a concept, it’s a tool that can change your personal and work relationships. Emotional intelligence at its simplest is being aware of how your emotional status is affecting your life as well as those close to you. Once you can recognize and manage your emotions, you will be able to adapt and impact those around you positively.
Unfortunately, just like this chef had no idea about his lackluster reputation, many people are naturally oblivious to their absence of EI. Here are some distinct ways to know if you need to improve yours.
1. You Lack Empathy
“I had no idea they felt that way,” is a sure sign that you lack intuition and empathy. Pissing a team member off is one thing; not knowing how you did it or that it happened at all is a sure tell that you are disconnected from their feelings. Empathy is being aware of someone else’s feelings, which is the core principle of EI.
When present, empathy can be a powerful form of human connection. It can change the productivity levels around you by increasing morale and engagement. A boss will not be looked at as an effective leader without the ability to be communicate an empathetic perspective.
2. Apologizing is Difficult
When was the last time you should have apologized to someone? Did you do it? The two reasons people don’t apologize is that they don't know they are wrong or because it makes them feel weak and insecure. Effective and authentic apologies are almost impossible for some.
But as hard as it is to say those two words – “I’m sorry” – it can literally keep relationships from deteriorating. Apologies are a gesture of respect and can be a powerful tool in building trust and immediacy within relationships.
3. You Have an Inconsistent Reputation
Reputations are built on how you treat people. If you have a varying reputation, that means you are inconstant in the way you treat people. Your reputation defines you and represents the way you are viewed on the outside.
Reputation management is an essential characteristic of EI. Understanding how you are perceived and the way you want to be perceived, and then treating people accordingly to achieve that reputation, is an essential function of EI. It is necessary for people to know what to expect with you. Having dimensions to your personality is great, but if your team never knows what they’re going to get with you, it creates a lack of emotional trust which can ruin your business reputation.
There are many people in the hospitality industry who lack EI and are unaware that it has damaged their effectiveness, reputation, and opportunities. Don't fall into this common pitfall. Start learning today how to improve your EI.