How Mobility Professionals Can Use EQ to Help their Talents Confront Uncertainty

Who remembers the catchphrase, Emotional Intelligence, or more commonly referred to as EQ (also described as EI)? It was in 1995 when Daniel Goleman’s bestseller was touted by business leaders for playing a vital role in their company’s success. The concept came from Yale psychologists John D. Meyer and Peter Salovey in 1990.

Well, EQ is getting a revival of sorts on account of the current crisis. It’s being dusted off for people to understand how to manage their emotions in an uncertain time. Psychology Today defines it as such:

  • The ability to accurately identity their own emotions as well as of those of other
  • The ability to utilize emotions and apply them to tasks, like thinking and problem-solving
  • The ability to manage emotions, including controlling your own, as well as the ability to cheer or calm down another person

Increasing your EQ

But the question remains: Can you increase your emotional intelligence? The answer has always been yes, but modern challenges require new methods for both mobility professionals and their talents to address them.

Travis Bradberry, the author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and a co-founder of TalentSmart, a provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, defines it in his own terms: “Plasticity is the term neurologists use to describe the brain’s ability to change.”

“As you discover and practice new emotional intelligence skills, the billions of microscopic neurons lining the road between the rational and emotional centers of your brain branch off small “arms” (much like a tree) to reach out to outer cells. The chain reaction of growth ensures it’s easier to kick a new behavior into action in the future.

“As you train your brain repeatedly to practice new emotionally intelligent behavior, your brain builds the pathways needed to make them into habits,” he said.

In the nineties, emotional intelligence served as a model for propagating a healthy workplace interpersonal behavior, to be co-opted by a new term, corporate culture, which was broken down to various company initiatives such as diversity and inclusion. They all serve as checks and balances around verbal habits, purposeful thought, empathy and authentic support. This has been embraced by the global mobility industry.

The shift to EQ in the mainstream of human resource management now is not unusual. Due to lockdowns and remote work, office interactions with colleagues and peers have become far less personal, which calls for ways to figure out how to enhance relationships even if one can only see a colleague online. Even more troubling, employees’ mental health and well-being is in tatters.

Imperative EQ initiatives 

Below are some measures that globally mobility professionals need to do as outlined by Graebel, an international relocation services provider in more than 165 countries:

  • Engage in proactive communication – Consistent, regular communication helps to reassure mobile talent that mobility professionals are working on their behalf, monitoring developments, identifying challenges and solving problems
  • Hear out every voice – Employees’ suggestions, requests, concerns and opinions must be heard and addressed whenever and wherever possible
  • Be empathetic – Mobility talents need to be assured someone is watching out for them and can relate to their concerns – at both a logistical and emotional level
  • Be compassionate – Mobility professionals must quickly determine a mobile employee’s unique areas of anxiety and then respond compassionately with solutions and information to reduce those concerns

Most of these EQ initiatives are employee-employer concerns but it’s also worth noting how many talents working in Silicon Valley are Asians. Most of the news coverage talk about Asian Americans without mentioning Asian expats or recent transplants who may feel even more vulnerable having to face something they’ve never experienced before: being the subject of Asian hate crimes in the US. 

This makes it even more vital for global mobility professionals and HR to talk with Asian expats about how they or their employers can help them cope with the many crises they’re experiencing. It’s already a culture shock for many to experience the most number of COVID-19 deaths in the world, let alone being a target of hate crime.

Yes, there are expats with natural high EQ or EI. This is because they have traveled the world and are more aware and realistic about their views on life and work. Sometimes expats learn this only when they move to unfamiliar territory because they have no choice but to build up emotional reserves. Still, it doesn’t hurt to check out on them.

How to spot someone with high EQ

How to spot someone with high levels of emotional intelligence? It’s not easy to do so right away, but a study by the University of Stratchclyde in Glasgow points to one thing. 

It determined that people with high levels of emotional intelligence are likely to be less susceptible to “fake news,” which are spread easily on social media. In the research, those who identified the types of news correctly scored highly on their EQ tests. There was a similar correlation between correct identification and educational attainment.

Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist and bestselling author of The Coddling of the American Mind,” said social media has definitely changed the dynamics of communication, describing social media as an outrage machine. 

Paraphrasing Haidt, he said there’s no wall anymore and for that reason, we need to set a higher bar for ourselves. (Dennis Clemente)