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Emotional Intelligence: The Secret Ingredient To Lasting CRE Success

Emotional Intelligence: The Secret Ingredient To Lasting CRE Success

On the surface, commercial real estate success is defined by the number of transactions on a deal sheet. But those deals do not reveal how CRE professionals forge lasting partnerships. More than market knowledge, business know-how and a high IQ, businesses that thrive on interpersonal skills have increasingly turned to another quality: emotional intelligence. 

“Eighty percent of the success we experience in life is going to be more than IQ, and EQ makes up a lot of that,” author Raymond Waters said. “It has a direct effect on how people interact with others and helps them build better, high-functioning teams.”

Waters is an author and syndicated columnist who focuses on issues related to personal growth and business performance. He spoke about the impact emotional intelligence is having on the business world last year during an education session at the Institute of Real Estate Management’s Global Summit. IQ has taken a back seat to softer, more people-focused skills, as companies take more stock in employees’ ability to not only understand their strengths and weaknesses but also empathize with colleagues. 

Beyond a healthier workplace, high emotional intelligence directly correlates to job performance. According to a study from TalentSmart, emotional intelligence is responsible for 58% of success across all industries. Even professionals with high-powered roles can improve their performance by taking time to grow their EQ.

The Carnegie Institute of Technology found that 85% of financial success was due to developing the ability to communicate, negotiate and lead. The study found that only 15% came from technical ability. 

“We deal with people all of the time who have great jobs and make a lot of money, but they are putting themselves in a ditch because they are not learning how to manage themselves properly,” Waters said. 

Emotional Intelligence: The Secret Ingredient To Lasting CRE Success

Emotional intelligence can be broken down across four categories: self-awareness, self-management, social management and relationship management. The latter two areas build a foundation for working and interacting with others, Waters said. Understanding one’s emotional makeup and working style can lead to better business decisions. People with high EQ take ownership of their mistakes and are open to constructive criticism.

Having the self-awareness to refer a colleague with more knowledge of a particular real estate asset class to a client, for instance, can lead to higher value deals and improved client relationships. In the insurance world, sales people with high EQ averaged $114K policies, compared to colleagues with low EQ, who averaged $54K

Self-awareness also helps curb emotional outbursts, what Waters refers to as an amygdala hijack. Part of a human’s primal flight-or-fight response, stress factors like disagreements or bad attitudes can set off adult temper tantrums. Staying present and acknowledging one’s emotions throughout the day, instead of suppressing them, can stave off moments of frustration. 

Knowing oneself is a step toward knowing others. After realizing that he lacked a deeper understanding of people living below the poverty line, Waters chose to listen rather than speak. He sought out people from backgrounds different from his own in an attempt to understand their stories. A lesson in empathy, this technique is applicable in the business world. Rather than superimpose one’s thoughts on someone else's, professionals can gain more insight by taking the time to learn about their clients. 

In a deal-oriented industry like commercial real estate, professionals can be quick to steamroll others in an effort to sell their ideas and let the room know they are knowledgeable. But it is the people who speak last and make sure the client is heard who have the greatest impact, Waters said. 

Unlike IQ, emotional intelligence can be taught. The key is putting theories on self-awareness, self-management and empathy into daily practice. 

“I am 55 years old and I am still trying to improve my emotional intelligence every day and learn more what it means to be empathetic toward others, to really know myself and to manage myself,” Waters said. “That is one of the beautiful things about emotional intelligence. It is an ongoing process.”

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