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Do emotions have a seat at the table when advisers meet with clients and colleagues?

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SAN DIEGO – An adviser can offer clients great portfolio strategies, strong tax planning advice and a winning retirement plan. Yet still be lacking something vital when they sit down with clients.

“Emotions always have a seat at the table,” says Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. “They’re always in the room.”

That’s important for advisers because emotions – how we feel ­– affect performance, decisions, relationships and engagements with clients, Brackett said at the Schwab Impact conference in San Diego this week.

“Emotions matter,” he declared. “Emotions drive cognition outside awareness. They are signals to clients and co-workers. And you don’t have to say anything – non-verbal displays [represent] about 80% of communication.”

Advisers should be concerned with cultivating individual emotional intelligence skill-building and creating an overall positive emotional environment in the workplace, Brackett said.

To begin to grasp the complexities of emotional intelligence, Brackett said there are a few points that people need to be aware of:

  • Recognize emotion

Identify emotion in oneself and others by interpreting facial expressions, body language, physiology and cognition.

  • Understand emotion

Knowing the causes and consequences of emotions on thinking, learning decisions and behavior.

  • Express emotion

Knowing how and when to express emotions with different people and in multiple contexts. Influences include personality, gender, power status, and social norms such as family and work environment and culture.

  • Regulate emotion

The thoughts and actions we use to prevent, reduce, initiate, maintain or enhance emotions to promote personal growth, build relationships, achieve greater well-being and attain goals.
Emotions are always present, so we can either accept or suppress them, Brackett said. Developing strategies to deal with our emotions is lifelong work but can be taught.

People must first become consciously aware of emotions. While automatic unaware responses can result in unintended and uncontrollable consequences, a conscious response should have the opposite effect, according to Brackett.

One method for positively controlling emotions is by developing an image of “your best self,” Brackett told advisers. When something happens and you have a response, force yourself to stop, see your best self, strategize and achieve the desired outcome.

Another strategy is to think about how you want to see yourself in public. Write down adjectives for how others perceive you and would describe you.

Brackett has also developed an app, moodmeterapp.com, that uses data about a person’s energy levels and degree of satisfaction during the day to measure emotional intelligence.

Mindfulness meditation can also be used to heighten awareness and supplement other strategies, Brackett said.

Benefits of emotional intelligence, he said, can include less anxiety and depression, fewer attention problems, better performance, greater leadership skills, more engaging and supportive employees and a more positive workplace environment.

Emotional intelligence can predict managers having greater empathy, effectiveness and better performance ratings, Barnett claimed. Teams with EI can create faster cohesion and effectiveness, and receive more internal social support, he added.

The objective of emotional intelligence isn’t to be happy because “happiness is 70% genetic anyway,” Brackett said. “The idea is to strive for well-being in your life and to develop better emotional skills.”

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