Emotional Intelligence in today’s virtual world

Our ability to build rapport and develop partnerships has clearly had to carry over to a virtual context. But how can we effectively connect with physicians virtually on a long-term basis considering the lasting impact of the Covid-19 pandemic? Something that can help us in maintaining these relationships is applying Emotional Intelligence to build trusted partnerships, whereby we are able to identify and control our own emotions and respond accordingly to those of others.

We can explore this with Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence model. Goleman has identified the five core competencies of Emotional Intelligence (EI). They include:

1. Self-awareness: responding thoughtfully rather than immediately reacting instinctively.

2. Self-regulation: managing and recognising the impact of our own emotions on others.

3. Self-motivation: directing our emotions toward end goals – what is our desired outcome for an interaction?

4. Empathy: being emotionally aware of how another person is feeling.

5. Social skills: managing relationships through interpersonal effectiveness.

How can we apply these competencies practically to Medical Affairs? An example of a real-life scenario might be a virtual meeting with a HCP, in which their camera is not functioning properly. The physician’s video function appears to be regularly stuttering and pausing during your data presentation, which might distract you. Once you have finished presenting, there is another pause before the HCP responds. The most sensible solution in this situation might be for you to highlight the affected camera. They may also be aware of this; in which case they could be more comfortable to conduct the meeting over the phone. In taking the time to ensure your meeting guest is most at ease, you lessen the risk of interrupting one another and make it clear that you want to hear their perspective (maximising potential for uncovering insights). You have likely been in their shoes before, experiencing a technological fault. What approach would make you most comfortable if you encountered the same problem?

Goleman’s identification of self-motivation as part of EI can also be applied to our interactions. If we go into a meeting with a prepared end goal in mind, we direct ourselves in a way that assists our ultimate objective. Time is valuable to both participants in the interaction, so why waste it with indirect inquiries? Similarly, we can use empathy to acknowledge the realities of the HCP: what time pressures are they under? How is the current pandemic affecting their day-to-day work? And what historical reservations might they have about the product you are representing? By seeing the interaction from their perspective, we become more aware of their challenges and optimise our potential for uncovering insights.

For more information on Emotional Intelligence, check out our webinar recording on the subject found via ‘Resources’ in One Community.

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