Do You Have Emotional Intelligence?

Last Updated Dec 14, 2007 10:36 AM EST

Emotional Intelligence in Sales SituationsThe discussion earlier this week over the issue "Are Sales Stars Made or Born?" really piqued my interest. Just about everyone who commented believed that innate personality traits played a role, but that skills training was just as important, if not more important. To be fair, that's exactly what Asher was saying, along with the proviso that sales professionals should be assigned to sales roles that match their personality traits.

However, the whole idea that you can't be good at sales unless you've got the right genetic brainwaves rolling through your skull strikes me as vaguely depressing. I happen to believe that everybody's success in business is directly dependent upon whether or not they can sell - regardless of whether they sell professionally. So that got me thinking about the work of another sales guru, Rob Scher, president of the Scher Group.

Scher is a big proponent of Emotional Intelligence (sometimes called Emotional Quotient or EQ), an idea that surfaced some years ago in a book of that name a professor named Daniel Goleman. The idea of EQ is that it's roughly similar to IQ (Intelligence Quotient), but measures your ability to use your "street smarts" to deal effectively with other people, their feelings, and your own feelings. Needless to say, having a high EQ is an incredible advantage in sales situation.

One of Scher's major points is that EQ differs from IQ in that IQ is genetically determined, while studies have shown that EQ can be increased through a combination of awareness and training. Asher seems to be arguing that personality traits are genetically determined and thus, like IQ, impossible to change. However, the current thinking among IQ experts is that even IQ can change, often substantially, over time, as illustrated in this article from the current issue of The New Yorker magazine.

So if IQ isn't as immutable as we thought, I have a feeling that EQ - and personality traits - aren't so predetermined that they can't be changed through a process of coaching and skills training. I find this issue fascinating, so I'm probably going to blog on it for most of next week.

Quick Poll: If you believe you have more emotional intelligence than the average joe, hit the "thumbs up" symbol at the top of the page!