Why insurance professionals should adopt emotional intelligence at work

Emotional Intelligence or EI is a term that has gained popularity in the recent past. EI comprises a set of skills, including the ability to regulate one’s own emotions, by listening attentively, accurately perceiving others’ emotions and showing empathy. It is worth understanding the signals that emotions send about relations and to manage your own and others’ emotions.

In short, it is your ability to observe and understand emotions internally and externally, and how you use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships. Emotional intelligence involves competencies in the following areas:

  • Self – awareness
  • Self – management
  • Empathy and social awareness
  • Relationship management

It is often said that persons with higher EQ or Emotional Quotient than IQ, rise the ranks in the corporate and business world. Individuals who portray characteristics such as the ability to have emotional strength, self- awareness and good social skills during turbulent times while motivating their teams, have a higher EI than the rest. The realization that EI has become an important factor of job success, surpassing technical ability, has been growing over the last years.

The Insurance industry very competitive and the work itself, right from sourcing new clients to debt collection exerts a lot of physical and emotional pressure to insurance professionals. An underwriter who can operate under high stress situations such as dealing with complaints on delay in settlement of claims, usually steers an insurance company to greater heights. Moreover, teamwork and emotional intelligence work hand in hand in ensuring that a client is served right. Insurance professionals must develop better coping mechanisms to manage stress and work effectively in highly stressful situations.

It is worth noting that clients take note of small sensitive matters, such as greetings, which is part of email etiquette or a polite and welcoming tone in telephone conversations. Clients want insurance industry players who are listening and caring business partners. Many insurance professionals may not actively listen to a client because they are in a rush to complete other pressing tasks with tight deadlines.

Everyone has the strong desire to be heard and understood. The ability to effectively listen and respond to others is crucial in developing good working relationships. Most people are too busy thinking of how they will reply to be able to actively listen to what others are saying. When following up on premium payment, for instance, an insurer should firstly find out from the client, why the delay in settling the long outstanding premium, if the client is reluctant to pay, seek alternative premium collection strategies such as asking the client to settle the premium in installments and understand the needs of their followers to strategize on realistic and achievable goals for an insurance company. Leaders with high Emotional intelligence can put themselves in other people’s position and can see things from others’ points of views. They can judge the impact of decisions, which allows them to be more proactive and anticipate the reactions of others.

When hiring an insurance professional, Human Resource Managers look for employees who are highly adaptable, manage their emotions and work well under high pressure with a diverse range of people. Such employees are sought after by HR to work in all areas of the workplace across the industries. During interviews, an interviewer can indirectly ask how the interviewee is able to deal with an annoying colleague. This gives valuable insight to the interviewer on how the candidate perceives people and if they can get along with others. A person with low emotional intelligence will respond, “I hate it when I try to tell people something and they just don’t get it” or “I hate it when I know I am right, and someone still wants to argue with me.” A person with High emotional intelligence might respond with, “There is always more than one way of doing things.” Or they might say, “Someone who looks to blame when something goes wrong, instead of looking solutions.”

Employees who demonstrate higher Emotional intelligence, do not blame others during difficult situations and look for solutions. They are problem solvers an appealing character to an employer. Good interpersonal skills, Public Relations and an employee’s level of self-awareness fit in with most organizations’ cultures of service culture to its clients. Organizations’ core values, help its employees and the fraternity at large to serve its clients professionally and diligently, as they are the most important publics. One key benefit of emotional intelligence is that emotionally intelligent people make higher income and effective leaders

When clients buy insurance products, they do it from YOU, a human. Therefore, it is often said, “people do business with people”. Human decisions are based on a combination of things, including logic, knowledge, and experience. But also, emotions or gut feelings are big players in decision making and they can be a lot harder to predict. An insurance broker is required to demonstrate high emotional intelligence when sourcing and influencing prospects and clients.

How can emotional intelligence impact your brokerage? Being a successful broker means influencing prospects to buy your services and continue using them. For that to happen, they need to like and want to be around you. Your emotional state when you meet with them will affect how they feel about you. Being emotionally intelligent means that you are aware of how you feel and how this may affect the success of your interaction. For example, if you are joyful, comfortable, or curious, you will attract people. On the other hand, if you are scared, anxious, stressed, or desperate, you will scare away the client. The above feelings can be easily detected by a client both on tele-conversations and face to face meetings.

Just as psychologists say, a little stress is important in our day-to-day lives, as it enables us to review our emotions and how best we deal with such difficult situations. It is normal to encounter complaints from frustrated clients of how a claim was handled or solutions that were created when a claim is rejected. It is typical to be driving to a new prospect meeting only to get a call that you lost a big client. Or you may be summoned by your Chief Executive Officer for your department’s poor performance. An emotionally intelligent individual recognizes his or her emotional state and can deal with his or her emotions and those of others under stress. One way of doing this, is by walking away from the situation, especially in heated arguments, to cool off and think of strategies to remedy the problem.

Of importance is that nobody wants to do business with a narcissist. An insurance company or broker that makes it all about themselves and are self-centered, is a turn-off to most clients, who will not close a sale. The key thing is to listen to your clients’ needs and hear what they are saying not what you want to hear, Body language also plays a big role, in your sitting posture, eye contact, nodding in between conversations and turn-taking during conversations. This makes a client feel respected and creates a good rapport between the broker and the client.

If a client is angry and frustrated, a broker or insurer will take a step back, listen more and adopt a posture of “how can I help you resolve this problem.” If he or she sees that the client is confused, the agent may ask questions to find the source of the confusion and clear it up. While on one hand, a broker will listen to the needs and complaints of the client, the broker needs to “practice what they preach”, by practically solving the problem. If for example, a client complains of slow or no responses to business offers on time, which is why they lack confidence in approaching Insurer/Reinsurer A, and will offer competitor B with the same business opportunity, it is the broker’s responsibility to seriously address this matter by firstly acknowledging the client’s complaint and apologizing on behalf of the Insurer or Reinsurer and in an effort to protect the interests of the insurer/reinsurer, and inform the client of the Insurer or Reinsurer’s turnaround time policies, and will forward the complaint to the Insurer to work on this problem, to avoid losing many business opportunities.

Emotional intelligence cannot be achieved overnight and requires practice from time to time to ensure that as a business professional you meet the interests of your clients, to sustain mutual business relationships.

We conclude by a quote from Harvard Business Review “While you might excel at your job technically, if you can’t effectively communicate with your team or collaborate with others, those technical skills will get overlooked. By mastering emotional intelligence, you can continue to advance your career and organization”


Daniel Goleman “Emotional Intelligence” Published in Great Britain 1996. Pg.5-10 of 335in Great Britain 1996. Pg.5-10 of 335

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