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How to Avoid Losing Your Cool to Build Client Relationships

Last week the headlines about Hillary Clinton’s visit to Africa included, Hillary Clinton loses cool at question on Bill: ‘My husband is not the Secretary of State, I am’.
Hillary’s “rage” over a question asked by a Kinshasa university student overshadowed her entire Africa tour.

You can view the YouTube video of Hillary’s infamous reaction to the students question here.

As I watched the video of Hillary “losing her cool” which was repeated over and over on all the major news stations, I thought about how “losing your cool” can override good work and make a smart, sophisticated person look foolish.

I am reminded of a term coined by Daniel Golemen called Emotional Intelligence. Goleman defines emotional intelligence as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves , for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships”

Mastering Emotional Intelligence is an essential skill in building and cultivating long term relationships with clients, colleagues and referral sources.

One of the elements of Emotional Intelligence is Self Control, this is the ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses in check. The following are three actions to keep in mind to assist you in maintaining self control in a difficult situation:

  1. Manage impulsive feelings– Maintain an awareness of your emotions. Once you feel the urge to react negatively to a comment or situation, think about the goal you want to achieve and how your behavior will help (or hinder) you to achieve your goal.
  2. Respond calmly– Keep in mind that people respond better to a calm and thoughtful response. If you feel you are “losing your cool”, pause and visualize what you want to achieve before reacting in a disrespectful manner. If you have the opportunity, take a break and remove yourself from the situation before you respond.
  3. Become curious– As soon as you are certain that what you are hearing is wrong and upsets you. Seek to understand why the person is asking the question or making the statement.  Imagine how different the outcome would have been if Hillary would have asked for clarification from the student about the “Bill” question before she reacted.

Those who can monitor and control their internal feelings, impulses and resources possess a high level of emotional intelligent self-management skills.  In my experience, the lawyers and executives who have the ability to manage and control their emotions are also those who gain the most endorsement from clients, colleagues and their personal and professional network. By knowing how to manage disruptive emotions and stay calm in difficult situations, you will be perceived by others as more empathetic, intelligent and be someone who others want to spend time and do business with.

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