From XU Magazine, 
Issue 36

Utilising Emotional Intelligence as a Professional

This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Here in Australia, we have just come through potentially one of the most stressful times of a bookkeeper’s calendar, the end of a financial year. This time generally lends to higher workloads, longer hours, demanding clients, and compliance deadlines.

It’s also a time of year where, because of these factors, our stress levels increase. It often means we can be reactive instead of proactive, and at times our patience gets stretched a little thin.

What this also means, is we need to ensure that we have the skills so that we can continue to engage professionally with our clients, stakeholders, teams, families and friends.

If we are to stay professional, we need to ensure that we are operating with a high degree of emotional intelligence (EI).

Emotional intelligence (EI) is about understanding and managing your emotions and the emotions of others. It helps you make better decisions, handle tough situations, and build positive relationships. It’s like having a toolbox of skills that help you handle emotions, communicate well, and get along with people, even during stressful times.

People with a high level of EI generally can perform well under stress, stay in control, and calmly assess situations, including timelines and managing heavy workloads.

“So, is there a link between how we handle stress and our own level of EI?”

Yes - as we all know, stress levels can be higher at sometimes than it is at others - it sits on a continuum that constantly shifts. Like our levels of stress, EI is a spectrum that moves as our lives move and adapt.

How do we build our own Emotional Intelligence

It’s critical we can recognise stressors that occur in our workplace, and the emotions that are raised for both us and our clients, teams etc.

Some have referred to developing a high degree of EI as building resilience. But it really is more than that.

I’m suggesting that EI is about building a self-awareness of how we react to and how we manage others, showing empathy and learning to regulate how we respond. We should aim to find out why we react in a certain way, what we find stressful and what triggers an emotional response in us and others.

The trick here is how do we build our skill set to deal with our reactions to others when our stress levels are high.

There are four components to consider:

Self Awareness – being conscious of your emotions and how you respond. Think about why you feel the way you do. By understanding your emotional responses, you can maintain composure even during high-pressure situations. This aids in problem-solving and decision-making, ensuring that your clients feel heard and valued.

Self management – balancing your moods so that negative emotions don’t get in the way of what needs to be done. Develop coping strategies find ways to deal with stress and pause before you react (put that email into drafts so you can calm down before you send it)

Social Awareness - understanding how you react to different scenarios and modifying your behaviour to achieve the outcomes you’re seeking. Practice your communication skills and learn to deal with disagreements calmly and respectfully

Show Empathy – actively listen and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Show genuine interest in others

Relationship management & communication –

Connecting with others to build positive relationships. Effective communication is amplified through EI. By tailoring your communication style to suit your clients’ emotional cues, you can convey information more clearly and mitigate misunderstandings. This level of engagement cultivates a positive client experience and promotes long-term relationships.

Tip: Keeping a journal is a great tool to keep track of the things that cause you stress. Jot down what the stressful situation was and how you responded. Refer to it later if you find yourself in the same or similar situation again.

Utilising Emotional Intelligence as a Professional

In the realm of bookkeepers and accountants, harnessing EI isn’t just an asset – it’s a strategic tool that can enhance client interactions, build rapport, and elevate the overall service experience. As a professional bookkeeper or accountant, utilising EI can make a substantial difference in your effectiveness and client satisfaction.

In essence, EI is a cornerstone of exceptional service provision. By honing self-awareness, empathy,

communication, and adaptability, you can create a service experience that transcends the transactional and becomes a genuine connection between you and your clients. In a world where client experience is paramount, your mastery of EI sets you apart as a professional who not only understands the technical aspects of your role but also the nuanced realm of human emotions.

Leading Teams with Emotional Intelligence

When dealing with your own teams, there are many factors to consider. When you understand their thoughts and feelings you can understand their behaviours better. It can also help to address a situation in a less judgemental way.

It also helps to develop empathy for your team, but it’s important to show some vulnerability yourself. It can connect you with team members on a level where they better appreciate your understanding of what they are feeling.

Build a culture where it’s OK to have open conversations. Encourage your team to talk about life outside of work. In reality, life doesn’t get checked at the door.

Ensure that you share your experiences as a leader also. Showing some vulnerability is a considerable sign of strength and will help build rapport with team members. Keep it real!

In leadership, embracing EI as a guiding compass empowers you to foster a harmonious and motivated team. By skilfully navigating emotions, communicating empathetically, and valuing diverse perspectives, you create an environment where collaboration flourishes, trust is built, and individuals are inspired to reach their fullest potential. A leader who leads with EI not only drives organisational success but also nurtures a culture of authenticity, empathy, and enduring achievement.

Why leave it there?

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