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We need to talk about EQ

I'm sure there is a formal definition of EQ somewhere out there on the internet or in the vast chamber of some renowned centre of academia but I'll leave them there for now.

What do we, at Shiageto Consulting, mean when we talk about EQ? We should probably give a bit of a definition considering that it's one of the bedrocks of the services we provide...

Well, for us, it's that hidden element that sets the great from the good. That all-star quality that allows a person to really make the most of every interaction they have with another person or group of people. People with good EQ just really get others, they make a room light up, they make any idea seem like a good one, they make others feel respected and special after interacting with them. This isn't to be confused with charisma or awe and certainly not authority or technical excellence; it's good old fashioned people skills.

There are lots of examples of high profile individuals who have great EQ (I can think of countless politicians, movie stars that would be up there) but often those who are naturally good at it find themselves in coaching roles, customer service roles, teaching roles and yes, consulting roles.

What makes them good at those roles is the empathy, the ability to judge their own impact and to quickly assimilate what is going with the people they are talking to (this is lovingly referred to as "reading the room"). Most importantly of all, they are able to "flex their style", meaning that they don't just handle every interaction in exactly the same approach - they tailor how they are going to interact each time depending on the individual, the situation and the objective they need to meet; I mean you wouldn't use a hammer for absolutely every DIY job, but it's amazing how many people try...

I mentioned that a lot of consultants have this skill (equally I have worked with quite a few that don't) and this is what makes them so good at getting ideas over the line, moving from business to business in rapid time and maintaining large networks. Admittedly, a large part of this is because these are the natural skills that consulting recruit for (we often refer to it as the "airport test" when we recruit, i.e. would you be happy having to spend 24 hours at an airport with that individual if your flight was cancelled and there were no hotel rooms to check into) but it's also because they get to practice this a lot.

That's the good news; it's a skill that can be taught and developed with practice. Most people have never been shown the ways to develop their EQ, let alone been given an environment in which they can safely practice it; as such it's like a muscle that is never used, it becomes weak and flabby.

Having been a person that has made a successful career on being able to read a room and flex my style (first in classrooms before moving onto boardrooms), I soon realised that this was something I was good at and before I know it was asked to pull together a training programme at one consultancy to upskill junior and senior individuals in EQ. Over time, this course grew and grew and I began to deliver it to more colleagues and clients that wanted their teams to operate more like consultants. I went into retail companies and trained their teams to be better when dealing with suppliers; I supported internal strategy teams in utilities to better be able to land their recommendations across the business; I trained government teams in how to better work together.

The key I discovered was not just teaching theory on EQ but recreating specific scenarios that they found difficult (often with actors) to practice and try new styles. In the 10 years I have been helping individuals with their EQ, I've never failed to be amazed at the difference a bit of practice can make and the improvements teams make in short spaces of time. I can hand on heart say that every one of those individuals (and their bosses) saw the value they got from the support.

So, if your teams or your business are struggling with EQ, then drop us a line at Shiageto Consulting. We'd love to talk to you about it, who knows what we could do together to improve your effectiveness...after all this is just as, if not more, relevant to the world of friendships, family and relationships and it never hurts to be better at those

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