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Emotional Intelligence in Sales Recruitment

Daniel Goleman developed the principles of emotional intelligence. He believed that IQ and other behavioural tests accurately predict how well a person would perform "on the job". But he also believed that emotions played a far superior role in human interaction than we believe they did.

4 'Intelligences' have been introduced:

  1. Mental Intelligence (IQ) - Our ability to reason and think, use language and comprehend.
  2. Physical Intelligence (PQ) - This is what our bodies do without conscious effort.
  3. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) - Our ability to communicate with others through various means.
  4. Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) - Our drive for meaning and connection with the infinite.

It has been recognised that people behave in different ways when faced with the same situation, and this is due to the individual level of emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence can be defined using the acronym ARROW

Awareness

    • This is being aware of how your personality affects others. This means we are able to see ourselves as others perceive us and then go on to manage ourselves accordingly. Have you ever wondered why a situation didn't go your way? It could well be because you were not aware of your effect on the other individual. 

Restraint

    • Identifying negative emotions that can cause damage. "The ability to know when to exercise restraint in a situation". Have you ever been kept awake at night reviewing something you wish you hadn't said? Or even simply been embarrassed remembering a situation where you thought you were justified in your point, but you went too far when thinking about it later?

Resilience

    • Developing an optimistic, persistent nature. Optimism is seen to be the backbone of resilience. Every day individuals come face to face with rejection, complex negotiations and difficult people, as well as changing circumstances. I am sure there have been times when you have felt like you wanted to give up.

Others (empathy)

    • Developing an emotional radar. Empathy is about walking in the other person's shoes and being empathetic and sympathetic. As a recruiter, you should be able to read between the lines and understand candidate motivation.

Rapport (Working with others)

    • The majority of sales professionals are good at building rapport - that is until we are challenged. What form of communication is more reliable than words? Yes, facial and body. It is understood that individuals who can read non-verbal body language are more popular as an individual in comparison to those who don't. If you are able and good at reading non-verbal signals, you are then able to make anyone feel fantastic in your presence.

Emotional intelligence is a crucial element of recruiting because people like to work with people like themselves as it makes them feel at ease.

If we are able to master the concepts of emotional intelligence, we can improve our lives and become even more successful within our working environment. Seeing that emotions are habits, they can undermine our best efforts if they get out of control. However, by unlearning some and developing other emotions, we are able to have maximum control over our lives. You can then control how you want to feel and how you want others to feel around you.

The principles of emotional intelligence focus on you as an individual regardless of your circumstances, both past and present. By mastering the theories of Awareness, Restraint, Others (empathy), and Working with others (rapport), you can master the dynamic of human interaction. This can help you become more successful personally and professionally.

Principle 1 - Awareness

Being aware is about understanding your strengths and not letting your weaknesses get in the way of your strengths.

Our personalities reflect on others - and it would be highly beneficial if everyone understood their own personality style and how it affects others. Psychometric testing is the best available tool to do this as they help you to understand how you react to certain situations. Well-developed emotional intelligence refers to the understanding you have of other individuals.

Being aware also refers to being attuned to how you communicate with one another and how individuals, in return, respond to your communication.

Emotional systems operate with more speed and certainty than our rational systems. To stay in control, we need to be aware of our body's automatic responses when it senses a threat - we need to take the necessary time to "normalise" before responding to that threat or situation.

It is often recognised that top negotiators have a highly developed awareness. They frequently observe scenarios, watch for signals, and utilise silence to their advantage. You will notice that great negotiators are always aware of what is happening around them and aware of the personality style of the person they may be negotiating with.

Although being aware sounds very simple, you would be surprised how many of us do not use or understand this approach.

Principle 2 - Restraint

Restraint means identifying negative emotions and replacing them with rational responses that will hold back negative emotions. Restraint enables us to practice patience rather than pushing ahead with the risk of damaging a relationship. Restraint is also about being aware of your body's reaction to angry or stressful situations and knowing how to manage the process effectively.

Emotionally intelligent individuals are able to release the demands they make on others that often cause them to feel persistent anger. I would suggest that if you are unsure of how to react, don't react at all. Practising restraint is something that all of us need to be do more (or at least be aware of). Often the nature of recruiting sales candidates means that we are more often than not thrown into unfamiliar territory.

Principle 3 - Resilience

Do you have the ability to "bounce back" after a setback? It can be argued that resilience is the single most crucial factor in a sales-orientated career, especially for recruiting sales candidates. Big billers have the ability to demonstrate lots of resilience, and they are able to successfully separate themselves from the rejection that occurs on a weekly (sometimes even daily) basis.

As emotionally intelligent individuals, we are responsible for keeping our pessimism in check. Think of the effect on those you work with when you make a pessimistic comment in the office about a client or candidate. Emotionally intelligent sales recruiters are always aware of themselves and others. When a problem comes about, they react by fixing the problem, not apportioning blame.

The most effective ways to develop resilience is to:

    • Notice when you're being pessimistic and use positive self-talk to overcome the pessimism.
    • Be aware your attitude affects not only you but also those around you. Try and make an attitude change if required.
    • Understand and accept the law of averages and learn not to take rejection personally.
    • Embrace change.

If you are able to develop resilience, you will be on the path to being an emotionally intelligent and successful person - as well as being great to be around.

Principle 4 - Others

Do you have the skills that enable you to be a better listener and observe others around you in situations? When recruiting sales employees, we often find ourselves doing most of the talking (by doing this, it's extremely challenging to observe the candidate). If you can develop an emotional radar and identify the personality style of the person you are interviewing, you are more able to communicate with the individual in a method they feel most comfortable with.

To develop empathy, you have to be able to better your active listening skills. If you can practice the following skills, you will be able to become an expert at actively listening:

Attentive body language

    • Using appropriate body language can portray focus and involvement. Further, maintain eye contact and provide a non-distracting environment.

Following skills

    • Providing friendly clues, asking questions and using attentive silences can help to invite communication.

Reflecting Skills

    • Paraphrasing can help demonstrate that you understood what you just heard. Empathy is all about putting yourself in other people's shoes. Watching, listening and showing candidates the face they want to see and adjusting communication accordingly demonstrates good use of empathy.

Principle 5 - Rapport (working with others)

When working with others and building rapport, you must focus on communicating, resolving conflicts and learning to relate with others effectively.

Make sure that you can actively listen. Focus on what is being said to you rather than thinking about what you plan to say next. If you think that a candidate specifically doesn't understand what you have said, instead of restating it, ask the individual concerned to put what they think you've said into their own words until you reach an understanding.

To Conclude

Working with others is about creating a win-win for all concerned. It is about understanding how to make your point effectively and recognising how both your verbal and non-verbal communications will affect potential employees.

It's further about using empathy to understand the other person's point of view and restrain in your response if needed. However, most importantly, you need to be aware of those around you and understand how your reactions will affect them.

Make sure that you understand that great sales candidates fully recognise that working with you as a recruiter is critical to a successful recruitment outcome. They are able to use the principles of emotional intelligence to ensure a win-win for all participants involved.

Date published: 5th March 2024

Rob Scott, Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, Author Photo

About the author

Rob Scott

Rob is the Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, a national recruitment agency specialising in sourcing sales and marketing staff for businesses across a broad range of commercial sectors. Before setting up Aaron Wallis, Rob spent ten years at a specialist Sales and Marketing recruitment division of a £0.5BN recruitment group, leaving in 2007 as Marketing & Sales Director to establish Aaron Wallis.
 
With over 24 years of experience in sales recruitment, Rob is a History graduate with an MBA (Merit) and a PgCert in Management Practice.  In 2007, 2009 and 2013 Rob conducted the most extensive surveys of sales professionals in the UK and is a trusted authority in the sales industry. From guiding employers through the recruitment process to helping candidates find their dream job, Rob's advice has been quoted in leading publications such as Business Insider and The Independent, as well as OnRec, which host The Online Recruitment Awards every year.

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