From IQ to EQ: Personal Interest and Involvement Is a Critical Factor

Do you work at a company that sells something? Or are you in a situation where you must convince others about something? Are you dependent on the support of others? If so, read carefully.

So many people consider it their job to keep a cool, objective distance from their surroundings, including their customers and colleagues, believing that they should remain an impartial mediator of facts. So many professionals believe that they serve best their career and their company’s interest by being detached and consider it unprofessional to get involved personally. They believe that they have achieved or will achieve success because of their objective, impersonal, and transaction-oriented relationships with their customers, colleagues, and partners. I believe they have achieved a measure of success in spite of this kind of practice; otherwise, they would have achieved even more in less time.

I have heard people say that they leave their personality at the door when they enter the workplace. This is misguided “wisdom.” My point is that personal involvement, which is how well you understand yourself and others in order to adapt to your immediate surroundings and the current demands, is indispensable. It is a direct extension of your EQ and will advance your career.

To paint a clear picture, imagine a business professional looking for the most dispassionate, matter-of-fact adviser, partner, or salesperson—not very likely. Businesspeople want to feel that the person they are talking to has concern for them as an individual, not just business interest.

Try to remember the last time you felt that your bank manager, dentist, or accountant was interested in you on a personal level. You might have needed to dig deep into your memory. It was a good feeling, right? That feeling gave you the urge to call them the next time you had a problem, or even recommend them to others.

If you can establish trusting relationships with your clients, colleagues, and managers, you will have a unique platform for your career. You will then become an extremely valuable asset to the company you work for, manage, or own because you increase brand value and create loyalty.

There is also a more commercial benefit to building relationships based on personal involvement: the deeper and more comprehensive your relationship is, the longer the relationship will last; and therefore, more value can be created. You and your company are transitioning from solving individual, specific problems to solving complex problems. Taking a personal interest in people that you encounter in your career does not mean that your professionalism will be compromised. Your professionalism will always be your entry ticket. Presenting yourself as an authentic, trustworthy professional will help you create long-term relationships.

Occasionally, you may find yourself in a situation where you cannot serve all customers or cannot be everything to everyone. It is a fact of life that sometimes personal chemistry between individuals is not suitable for sustaining a fruitful professional relationship. Do not be discouraged by this infrequent occurrence. You will experience greater job satisfaction, creativity, development, and synergy with your loyal customers and the many new ones you will get!

What remains for you to think about is how to work with relationships. Strive to be introspective over the course of your career. Do not be afraid to ask yourself relevant questions: How involved am I with my customers, clients, and partners? How do I express my personal interest? What can I do to improve my ability to connect to them?

Do you want people to remember you?

Based on my experience, people do not remember academically talented individuals—they remember the passionate ones. Do you ever doubt that statement? Maybe this can make you believe it: Think about how often you judge a person based on his or her energy, charisma, and what other people say about him or her. The impression you leave has a more lasting effect than what you say or do. Think about how you react when you meet someone who is enthusiastic, energetic, informed, and excited.

These people are contagious, and they are the type whom you listen to when the conversation centers on professional topics. The energy you bring to the table and leave in the room becomes part of your business image, your business card, and it is far more important than the title on your business card—remember that anybody can obtain a title. Therefore, it is important that you consider whether you inspire confidence or mistrust in people.

For example, think about the idea that experts inspire a higher level of confidence than salespeople. As much as 50 percent of the reason people buy from you or believe in what you endorse is influenced by whether or not they like you.

Do people like you? Do they recommend you or warn against working with you? Or even worse, do you get merely archived in the imaginary folder titled “Unimportant—throw out and forget”? What emotions do you evoke in people? You can determine the level of people’s trust in you based on the extent to which you are involved in the professional life of the people in your network.

How many of your connections spar with you—for example, people who sent you an article that they thought you would like, or recommended an event that was right for you? That is personal involvement.

People recommend people they like and trust.

If you are academically skilled AND at the same time have a high EQ, you are obviously in a good position. Having both qualities maximizes your potential and allows others to see your authenticity! A recruiter once told me that such people do exist. They are few, but they do exist.

“From IQ to EQ” is an article series edited from Soulaima Gourani’s article New Trends in Human Resources – From IQ to EQ. The original copy of the article can be found here.

Soulaima Gourani is a Danish speaker, author, board member and special adviser to ministers, task forces, goverment think tanks and demanding private companies. She was also one of the speakers of Nordic Business Forum 2014. More about Soulaima at

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