Soft Skills Bring Hard Results in Business, Study Shows

    September 3, 2003

According to an article in the August issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Americans have one of the most emotionally distant work cultures in the world. Why are you not surprised?

They point out this “sterility” isn’t good for business. It can lead us to miss what’s really going on! The moreso in a multicultural environment. The research showed that “friendlier” employees were more productive, because they were more effective communicators. “Friendlier” workers were defined as those who could pick up on nonverbal cues going on around them, and this requires high Emotional Intelligence.

In the US, our distant work relationships mean we tend to “focus too much on explicit meanings and often misinterpret-or even ignore-underlying ones.” In the US “personal relationships are considered inappropriate at work and should be saved for social, non-work settings. By contrast, countries such as North Korea, South Korea, and China have a more social work ethic.

However you define “friendly,” it involves a lot of Emotional Competencies such as empathy, flexibility, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, anger management and the like. People with high EQ skills are more productive, and also happier and more successful in all areas of their lives.

People with high EQ have also developed both hemispheres of their brain (right and left) and are able to access them. Most of our education and training is left-brained (analytical, reason, linear), while we need our right-brain to process holistically. That means being able to get what’s gong on by more than just the words being spoken, and using empathy to interpret nonverbal cues.

Example? You ask your assistant to complete a project for you. She says, “OK,” but has her arms crossed, rolls her eyes, sighs, and spits out the words. And tapping her foot. If you aren’t picking up on those nonverbals, you aren’t cued in to the fact that, despite the word “OK,” there’s going to be trouble.

Increasing your Emotional Intelligence can pay off in all areas of your life. It all boils down to those important so-called “soft” skills that bring “hard” results.

Susan Dunn, MA, Marketing Coach, Marketing consultation,
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