By Deborah Pinnock on Sep 25, 2018 10:56:16 AM
The saying, people do business with people, has far reaching implications for insurance brokers. At the end of the day, a human will be making the decision of whether or not to buy your products, services and overall…buy YOU. Human decisions are based on a combination of things including logic, knowledge, experience and emotions or gut feelings. Therefore, to be successful as an insurance broker in influencing prospects and clients (i.e., people), it’s vital that you have a high degree of emotional intelligence (EI).
Benefits of Emotional Intelligence
TalentSmart’s research finds that 90 percent of the top performers they studied had a high degree of emotional intelligence. Their research also shows that these individuals make higher incomes. What’s more is that emotionally intelligent people make better leaders. According to Daniel Goleman, the Rutgers's psychologist credited with popularizing emotional intelligence:
“The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence…My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.”
What exactly is EI?
The experts who coined or popularized the term have been featured in influential publications such as Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Time magazine, Monster, Inc., and TalentSmart, to name a few. These psychologists, respected both in academia and the business world, define EI as follows:
It is the “ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relations; and to manage your own and others’ emotions,” according to John D. Mayer, one of the two psychologist who coined the term.
Daniel Goleman, internationally known psychologist and best selling author of “Emotional Intelligence,” named one of Time Magazine’s 25 “Most Influential Business Management Books,” sees it as competencies in the following areas:
- Self awareness
- Self management
- Empathy and social awareness
- Relationship management
In short, it is “your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships,” per Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.
3 Ways High Emotional Intelligence can Make You a Better
A. Improve Client & Prospect Meetings Through Emotional Awareness
Being a successful broker means influencing prospects to buy your products and services and continue using them. For that to happen, they need to like and want to be around you…at least long enough for you to share what you have to offer; your emotional state when you meet with them will affect how they feel about you. Being emotionally intelligent means you are aware of how you feel and how this may affect the success of your interaction. For example, if you are excited, confident, calm, joyful, comfortable or curious, you will attract people to you. On the other hand, are you scared, anxious, stressed, desperate or sad? The person you are meeting with will pick up on this and like that scene in movies where you see the birds flying full speed in the opposite direction of some ominous danger, your prospects will do the same.
B. Improve Interactions by Effectively Managing Your Emotions
Emotionally intelligent people are aware of and manage their emotions well. As in insurance broker, you can’t ever afford to have an off day in this area. The effects can be similar to a bull in a china shop. The results? Stuff gets broken, in the form of lost accounts, damaged reputations, job terminations and more. However, the truth is that being in stressful situations is part of the life of a broker. It’s normal to meet with a frustrated benefits administrator who is ticked about how a claim was handled. It’s typical to be en route to an important prospect only to get a call that you just lost a big client. Or you may be in a meeting with your boss and it turns into a bad review. Being high in emotional intelligence helps you recognize your emotional state and utilize various ways to deal with your emotions under stress.
C. Improve Client Relationships by Understanding What Your Clients are Feeling
Nobody wants to do business with a narcissist. People get turned off in regular conversations with someone where it’s all about them. Once a prospect or client picks up on this self-centeredness, and sees what Psychology Today states is the prime indicator of narcissism (i.e., how well or poorly a person listens), the prospect will run for the hills. So, the key to understanding what your clients are feeling and the ability to show them empathy, is listening. Emotionally intelligent people listen and pay attention to what their audience is saying, how they are saying it and observe their body language in order to draw clues about their emotional state. Armed with that information, the broker is able to adjust his or her behavior, as well as what they say to the client. For example, if the client sounds frustrated and angry, the broker will take a step back, listen more and adapt a posture of “how can I help you resolve this problem.” If he or she sees that the client is confused, the agent may ask questions to find the source of the confusion and clear it up.
As a broker, you know the plans, the carriers and current ancillary benefits trends. But when it all boils down to it, you need to know more about people because you are in the business of educating, serving and influencing them. And wherever there are people, you will encounter emotions. They are simply a part of who we all are. The key is knowing that emotions can work for or against you. Being emotionally intelligent means you possess the awareness and skills to use emotions to help you become a better broker and develop productive relationships.