We’ve all heard about IQ (or intelligence quotient) and how “smart” people score high. There is more to succeeding in business than a fat number on a test. Successful professionals appear to have something just as, or more, important to give them a leading edge — emotional intelligence (or EQ for short). The larger an organization grows, the more important relationship skills become.

The idea of multiple intelligences has been around in literature at least as far back as the 1960s, but it was Daniel Goleman, and his non-academic, self-help style that popularized the idea of EQ in 1995 through his best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence — Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

Goleman presented EQ as a collection of skills that drive leadership performance and broke them down into five constructs: self-awareness, self-regulation, social skill, empathy, and motivation. He offered these as a set of learned capabilities jumpstarted by a unique aptitude from birth. Though his model is criticized by some psychologists, his presentation struck a chord with many and he developed an almost cult following for his books. He opened the door for variations on the different models and an entire industry devoted to developing relationships was born on the bookstore self-help shelves. Goleman made EQ understandable and relevant to people from all walks of life.


EQ at Work 

Today’s salon personnel can hardly argue that a keen awareness of these relationships and skills doesn’t exist, no matter what it’s called. Marcia Reynolds, an executive coach and best-selling author of Wander Woman and The Discomfort Zone, has studied the influence of EQ on business outcomes for decades. She shares that, “If the salon relies on repeat business, then the pros need to establish personal relationships with their clients. There are too many coupons and come-ons that could attract clients away. If they do a good job and help their clients feel better about themselves, they are more likely to keep their clients coming back to them. Emotional intelligence is the ability to notice what you are feeling, to stop and think about it, to understand what triggered you to feel this way, and then to make better decisions using the information your emotions gave you. When you have high EQ, you are both self-aware and able to notice what other people are feeling and what is truly at the source that is causing them to feel this way.”

Self-awareness “widens the connections between the emotional and logical parts of your brain.” Reynolds says, “The effect is that you are biologically better able to hear and understand others. You can remove your frustration, your desire to fix things, your need to be heard, your need to be liked, your need for peace, your fears of impatience, so you can be fully present to your clients. They will love you for it!”

EQ is all about monitoring emotions and being self-aware. The good news is that many salon pros already have high EQ, perhaps without even knowing it. They are the ones that everyone always seems to want to be around. They know what they feel and are in tune with the cause and effect, almost intuitively, without deconstructing it. If you want to test your EQ, you can take a short quiz at www.ihhp.com/free-eq-quiz/ developed by the Institute for Health and Human Potential. While we seem to be born with a certain capacity, there is evidence that we can maximize it through training. Lynda Chervil is the author of Fool’s Return, a novel that incorporates the principles of EQ life lessons in the form of a story. Chervil’s background in business development and marketing were impacted by her belief in using intuition and self-regulation. “Simply put, you need to exercise self-discipline and know how to control your emotions and be flexible in order to adapt to changing situations. Always consider intent versus impact, and know how your actions or decisions may affect the individuals or groups involved.”


Develop Self-Awareness

To develop your own personal EQ,  says Reynolds, “Start with yourself. Set your phone to go off two to three times a day. Notice what you are feeling and why. Write this down as soon as you can. This will help you become more aware of yourself, which naturally makes you more attune to others as you expand your capacity to notice emotions. If you don’t know why you are feeling the way you do, ask yourself, ‘What am I not getting that I expect to receive?’ Even socially incompetent people can develop their capacity to be emotionally sensitive.” Reynolds adds, “We all want people to know why we feel hurt, betrayed, or confused. When I feel you understand my why, I feel you have heard and understood me. I rarely get this in my day. When I relax with you in your salon, this is the greatest gift you can give me.”

Once you know your emotional reactions and why you feel the way you do, you are free to choose options. Reynolds says you can then ask for what you need. You may choose to just let it go if it’s truly an insignificant, knee-jerk reaction. It’s up to you. “Negative emotional reactions are generally based on a reaction to not getting something you expected to receive. It could be tangible, like someone not fulfilling a promise or not smiling at you. Often, it is more psychological, such as they didn’t respect you, acknowledge your work, honor your opinion, or show they liked you. Perhaps they disrupted your sense of order or made you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or devalued. When you understand what you feel you didn’t get from them, you are better able to determine if you can ask for what you need or release it. To release it, you must shift to feeling something else, like gratitude, peace, love, compassion, or pride.”

The beauty industry is an intimate one. Nail professionals not only are physically close in a client’s personal space as they hold hands or feet while performing services, but they become mentally close as they interact on an ongoing basis. Clients share intimate details of their lives — fears, accomplishments, loves, even what’s in their refrigerator.

“The most important thing someone can do for another is to fully listen and understand what they are experiencing,” says Reynolds. “We long to be seen. If salon pros listen deeply and show their clients they are listening, the result is more powerful than if they jump in and give their clients solutions to fix their problems. The person who feels you understand them — why they feel the way they do — will appreciate the time they spend with you. They will come back for the relationship as well as for your good work.” 


Brain Tips from Marcia Reynolds

The is an abbreviated Self-Care Checklist. The complete list can be found at

> Is your work space organized so you can find things easily?

> Does your home provide you comfort and a peaceful space where you can think?

> Is the temperature in your work space comfortable?

> Is your bed comfortable? Do you eat fresh, healthful food almost every day?

> Do you wake up looking forward to your day?

> Do you promise only when you can deliver?

> Are you debt-free or on your way to releasing yourself from debt?

> Do you invest in your own career development?

> Do you have people in your life who encourage your dreams?

> Do you tell your friends and family how much you care about them?

> Do you have a way to recharge your faith when you need to?

Regularly keep track and make a plan to correct any deficiencies.


Recommended Reading

Social Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman

Outsmart Your Brain, by Marcia Reynolds

Buddha’s Brain, by Rick Hanson

Emotional Intelligence 2.0, by Travis Bradberry

The EQ Interview, by Adele B. Lynn

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