By Deborah Pinnock on Jan 1, 2021 3:30:00 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 to buy your products, services and overall…buy YOU. Human decisions are based on a combination of things including logic, knowledge, and experience. But also, emotions or gut feelings are big players in decision making and they can be a lot harder to predict. So to be successful in influencing prospects and clients (i.e., people) as an insurance broker, 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, effective leaders all have a high degree of emotional intelligence.
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. John D. Mayer, one of these psychologists and respected both in academia and the business world, define EI as 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.”
Daniel Goleman, who is also the best selling author of “Emotional Intelligence,” 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 observe and understand emotions internally and externally, and how you use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships. But specifically, how can emotional intelligence impact your brokerage?
1. Improve Client & Prospect Meetings Through Emotional Awareness
Being a successful broker means influencing prospects to buy your 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. On the other hand, are you scared, anxious, stressed, desperate or sad? The person you are meeting with will pick up on this and run for the hills like that scene in movies where you see the birds flying full speed in the opposite direction of some ominous danger.
2. Improve Interactions by Effectively Managing Your Emotions
Emotionally intelligent people are aware of and manage their emotions well. As an 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. But 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 driving to a new prospect meeting 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 emotionally intelligent helps you recognize your emotional state and to deal with your emotions, and those of others under stress.
3. 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 who make it all about themselves. Once a prospect or client picks up on this self-centeredness, and sees what Psychology Today states is how poorly a broker listens, the prospect will run for the hills. So, the key to understanding what your clients are feeling 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 their behavior and 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. Being emotionally intelligent means you possess the awareness and skills to use emotions to help you become a better broker and develop productive relationships. If you're looking to further develop your emotional intelligence, leadership skills, or other broker skills, don't forget about your continuing education (CE) credits! You can get up to 12 hours of free online courses by clicking our link below!