In an industry fraught with emotions and entirely dependent on relationships, it’s crucial for real estate agents to have a high level of emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence (or EI, as it’s often called) has become quite the buzzword in the business community. The concept gained popularity in the 90s after it was introduced by a pair of psychologists, and since then, there have been hundreds of books and probably billions of articles written on the topic.
Studies show that high levels of emotional intelligence are linked to successful careers and better relationships. TalentSmart, a company that provides emotional intelligence assessments and training, conducted research and found this compelling evidence:
- Emotional intelligence ranks at the top of a list of 34 workplace skills as the strongest predictor of success.
- 90% of top performers have high levels of EI, while only 20% of bottom performers have high EI.
- People with higher EI make an average of $29,000 more per year.
To learn more, check out Why You Need Emotional Intelligence to Succeed in Business.
Obviously, it’s important. But what is EI, really? What does emotional intelligence mean for a real estate agent? And do you have it?
Let’s start with the basics.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is defined as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.”
It’s about self-awareness. It’s knowing that when you’re happy, it’s a good time to do some cold calling because you’ll be more personable and confident...and that when you’re in a subdued mood, you have better focus and concentration, so you should be catching up on your more detail-oriented administrative work.
EI is also about great self-control. It’s reeling in your anger when a client flakes at the last minute. Instead of letting it ruin your entire afternoon, it’s calmly letting her know that she must give you notice ahead of time, and then it’s using the 20 minutes it takes to drive back to your office to listen to calming music and refocus your mind.
When dealing with other people, EI is all about being perceptive. It’s having the ability to look at your client and tell by his expression that he’s in a bad mood. It’s having the foresight to adjust the way you give him some bad news, because you know he’s going to react to it more negatively than he typically would.
Empathy is also a major aspect of EI. With a high level of emotional intelligence, you understand how to empathize with your client—"I know this is frustrating…"—and you might even be able to lift his mood.
As a real estate agent, emotional intelligence gives you a major advantage. And that leads to the big question...do you have it?
A quick hack for gauging your emotional intelligence:
You can find plenty of free EI assessments online, but I think judging your emotional intelligence really requires a buddy. Because if there is an area where you aren’t exactly overflowing with emotional intelligence, you might be totally oblivious to the fact. So grab a close friend, a spouse, a partner, or an employee—someone who knows you very well, and will be honest—and ask them these questions:
To determine how well you understand your own emotions:
- Do I have a good understanding of my strengths and weaknesses?
- Am I rarely in denial about my emotions (meaning, do I have a good understanding of what emotions I’m feeling and what’s causing them)?
To determine how well you perceive others’ emotions:
- Am I good at knowing when you’re upset or stressed out, before you even tell me about it?
- When you’re sad or in a bad mood, do I talk and act with compassion? Do I show empathy?
- Am I good at cheering you up?
- Am I a good judge of character?
To determine if you are adept at regulating your emotions:
- Am I able to control my temper and calm down quickly?
- Do I stay rational and avoid letting my emotions get the best of me?
- Do I accept criticism graciously? Instead of letting it get me down, do I learn from it and quickly move on?
- Do I stay positive and refrain from speaking negatively about myself?
If they answer mostly Yes to the questions above, then you’re probably a pretty emotionally intelligent person. And if they mostly answer No, it’s not the end of the world. You just have some things to work on. (Many people are good at some aspects of emotional intelligence while lacking in others. Maybe you’re great at reading other people, but you just don’t have a good grasp on your own emotions.)
To learn how to improve your EI, I suggest starting with the Inc.com article How To Increase Your Emotional Intelligence by Justin Bariso, author of the upcoming book EQ, Applied. Daniel Goleman, the psychologist who popularized EI with his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence, also has a great article for getting started.
And because this post merely touches the surface of what is an extremely large and complex subject, here is some more suggested reading:
- What Emotional Intelligence Is and Is Not (Psychology Today)
- Signs That You Lack Emotional Intelligence (Harvard Business Review)
- How To Be Emotionally Intelligent (The New York Times)
EI & Your Real Estate Career
If you are currently running a successful real estate business, I’m guessing you have a pretty high level of emotional intelligence. After all, you’re in the business of building relationships. You have to be able to read people, know at least a little about what they’re thinking, and be able to communicate in a way that will resonate with them emotionally as well as intellectually.
But if you find yourself lacking in the EI department, check out the articles I listed above. Learn to get in touch with your emotions and the emotions of others.