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Emotional Intelligence and How Your Team Can Leverage It for Client Relations

Emotional intelligence, often abbreviated as EQ (Emotional Quotient), concerns our ability to identify, understand, use, and manage emotions wisely. It's an essential aspect of human interaction and crucial in business operations, particularly in client relations.

Empowering and training account managers on applying emotional intelligence when handling client concerns increases their credibility as a Trusted Advisor. Moreover, when leadership is knowledgeable about fostering emotional intelligence in the workplace, it results in a positive work environment.

An image of the brain connected to a heart signifying emotional intelligence

The 4 Core Competencies of Emotional Intelligence

According to the Harvard Business School, there are four core competencies of emotional intelligence (EQ):

  1. Self-awareness

  2. Self-management

  3. Social awareness

  4. Relationship management

Each core competency impacts one another, from awareness to actions. It may uncover answers to questions like:

  • Are your account managers aware of how your clients view their work?

  • How do your team members react when clients are upset with the reports?

  • What can your team do to improve client feedback saying a team member doesn’t seem present during meetings?

In this blog, we delve into each core competency and look into how it affects B2B and client relationships.

1. Self-awareness

Self-awareness involves recognizing and understanding one's own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values, and motivations. Individuals with high self-awareness can accurately assess their thoughts and feelings, and understand how these factors influence their behavior and decisions.

Companies spend resources for their team members to undergo self-reported assessments that measure self-awareness. The bad news is that we are notoriously bad at judging our own abilities. Taking these assessments at face value without investigating how it affects team performance can be counter-productive.

HBR’s five-year research found that “although 95% of people think they’re self-aware, only 10 to 15% actually are.” If each team member isn’t even aware of their incompetencies, how can they adjust their performance? How does that affect decision-making and strategizing?

According to research by Dierdorff and Robert, two situations arise from having team members who lack self-awareness skills:

  1. teams with less self-aware individuals made worse decisions, engaged in less coordination, and showed less conflict management.

  2. the most damaging situations occurred in teams with high numbers of over-raters (individuals who thought they were contributing more than they thought they were) 

In B2B, and client relations in general, clients will rely more on credible teams with self-aware members and can adjust to situations accordingly. Self-awareness enables team members to recognize how their emotions may impact client interactions and effectively manage their responses.

When it comes to decisional quality, coordination, and conflict management, high self-awareness from members leads to better team performance.

2. Self-management

To put it simply, self-awareness deals with recognizing while self-management deals with regulation. It refers to the ability to control one's emotions, impulses, and behaviors in various situations.

In a competitive industry, unforeseen circumstances always arise. Stocks can crash, clients are upset about the downward trend of your site impressions, and customers may not be getting the services they expected. How do your team members work through this?

Reaction vs. Response

According to Laura Noel, “Reacting is an instinctive, emotional response to a situation.” It's often an act of impulsiveness and influenced by our experiences. On the other hand, “responding is a thoughtful and deliberate action”. It’s the ability to consider a situation and make an informed decision. Those more in tune with their emotional intelligence can make the transition from reaction to response faster and easier.

The key idea here is that before you can properly manage yourself, you need a certain level of awareness. Team members need to have a better understanding of their skills - or what they lack thereof, before making lasting changes to this behavior.

Team members who excel in self-management can maintain composure and professionalism during client interactions. They can effectively manage their emotions, come up with effective solutions, and handle difficult situations with tact and diplomacy.

In client relations, “when a business can navigate turbulent waters with grace, it sends a strong message to its customers.” (Medura, 2023). Clients may view the company as reliable and capable of delivering consistent quality, regardless of external circumstances.

3. Social awareness

So your team members are self-aware and can self-regulate, but can they read the room? Social awareness entails understanding and empathizing with the emotions, perspectives, and needs of others.

For some of us, it can be tough especially when we're usually focused on ourselves and wrapped in our own thoughts. Being able to put aside selfishness and self-centeredness to accurately grasp how others think and feel is an asset in a workplace environment.

Social awareness involves:

  • empathy

  • organizational awareness, and

  • service orientation.

In a B2B relationship, empathy requires active listening skills to recognize verbal and non-verbal cues from clients. Organizational awareness involves external forces that may affect your team and business such as culture, government policies, and global economics. Lastly, service orientation helps businesses understand the needs and values of those they serve.

When team members are in tune with their emotions, they can easily asses their environment as well. They can identify which clients are in the grey area when renewing contracts and develop strategies not to lose the accounts entirely. They know clients who are looking for personalized experiences.

Consequently, when clients' concerns are heard, the more they feel valued. It tells them they are recognized. This leads to building lasting client relationships and customer loyalty.

4. Relationship management

Relationship management involves navigating and nurturing relationships with others, including clients, colleagues, and stakeholders effectively. More importantly, it pertains to conflict resolution. Who likes conflict and confrontation, right?

Negative emotions surrounding a team can drag down productivity and drain company morale. Moreover, when problems arise between account managers and their clients, leadership must be able to step in and hold difficult conversations to resolve them.

The three other competencies are crucial components to effectively managing relationships. It takes work to cultivate these skills. When it comes to client relations, those who excel in relationship management can communicate effectively, resolve conflicts constructively, and collaborate seamlessly with clients to achieve shared goals. These are unparalleled skills needed from Trusted Advisors.

9 Reasons Emotional Intelligence is Important to Client Relations

Building Rapport and Trust

To connect authentically, professionals must possess a high level of self-awareness, enabling them to identify and manage their own emotions. It lends a sense of authenticity to interactions, which clients can intuitively perceive and respond favorably to. When leveraged effectively, it allows for a deeper connection and the creation of a strong relational foundation.

Understanding Client Needs

EQ aids in creating a fine-grained understanding of clients' needs by focusing less on what they are saying and more on how they are saying it. It's the art of attuning to shifts in their moods, observing their body language, and recognizing the unspoken words, resulting in higher client satisfaction and success.

Conflict Resolution

Managing one's own emotions under pressure while understanding the emotional states of others allows professionals to approach conflicts with empathy, patience, and a solution-centric mindset. This forms the basis of creating a win-win situation where the needs of both parties are adequately met.

Managing Client Expectations

Emotional intelligence plays a vital role in setting realistic expectations, communicating transparently, and effectively managing any potential disappointments. By identifying and understanding their clients' needs, professionals can anticipate and meet their expectations more effectively, thereby maintaining a positive and trustworthy relationship.

What is Emotional Intelligence and How Can Your Team Leverage it for Client Relations?

Handling Difficult Clients

Every professional encounters difficult clients. Emotional intelligence equips professionals with the ability to handle challenging situations with grace and professionalism. It is not about suppressing emotions; rather, it's about effectively managing the emotions of both parties involved and coming to a resolution. Remember, winning the client, not the argument, should be the ultimate goal.

Enhancing Customer Experience

At the heart of a great customer experience is emotional connection. Emotional intelligence contributes significantly towards ensuring that clients feel valued, understood, and supported. By providing personalized and empathetic service, professionals can create exceptionally positive experiences that not only meet but exceed clients' expectations. These memorable experiences can, in turn, foster long-term client loyalty and advocacy.

Strengthening Client Loyalty

Clients who feel consistently valued and treated with care and understanding naturally develop a stronger emotional bond with the business. Responsiveness, empathy, and dependability can go a long way in nurturing the kind of client loyalty that leads to repeat business, referrals, and long-term partnerships.

Resilience and Adaptability

Emotional intelligence lends professionals the ability to manage their emotions effectively, maintain a positive mindset, and approach obstacles with a solution-focused outlook. This not only instills a sense of confidence and trust in the clients but also allows for continuous learning, improvement, and growth in the relationship.

Personal and Professional Growth

Emotional intelligence doesn't just benefit client relations – it also contributes to personal and professional growth. By regularly practicing and honing emotional intelligence skills, professionals can enhance their self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills. This personal development, in turn, positively influences professional interactions, overall work quality, and success in managing client relations.

earned sales equity bell curve

Measuring Client Insights Can Help Your Team Develop Emotional Intelligence

Take our initial situation where your team members may lack self-awareness and do not even know about it. How do you go about helping them acknowledge these incompetencies and develop the skills they need to improve?

You need qualitative data and feedback directly from the clients you are working with. Not some simple feedback survey where you only get a one-sided assessment, but a bird’s eye view of how each of your clients sees your business and their account managers as a provider.

With Encompass-CX, we help you uncover customer health and perfect your client experience. We take feedback from your clients and your account managers and compare them with one another. Are your account managers and team members over raters of how confident they are with their skills? Does your client view your company as reliable as you thought they would? What kind of training does your team need to improve these relationships?

Encompass-CX has the answer to these questions. Test the power of the number 1 customer experience management application for B2B! Sign up here for a free trial.

A graph how Encompass-CX shows Relationship Climate between account managers and clients
Example Aggregate of the Relationship Climate between Account Managers and Clients in Encompass-CX


Dierdorff, Erich C, and Rubin S Robert. “Research: We’re Not Very Self-Aware, Especially at Work.” Harvard Business Review, 6 Dec. 2017,

Midura, Danine. “Fostering Emotional Intelligence in Customer Relationship Management.” Technology Advisors, 2 Nov. 2023,

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