Recently I had an incident with a service provider who simply did not want to create a report in the format I requested.
I had been challenged trying to explain what I wanted from this person, even going so far as to write what to change and add on a sample report, but to no avail. I couldn’t get the data I wanted. Then I tried creating a Google Drive document with the sums I wanted to see in certain columns and the figures that comprised those sums in separate columns.
Trust me: I wasn't asking him to build a Mars rover from scratch. I just wanted data that already existed reorganized in a different way so that I (chief salesperson, boss and paycheck signer) could use it to create my forecasts more effectively. It was simple enough or so I thought.
I was wildly agitated as this person tried to tell me that the level of detail I wanted wasn’t necessary or didn't need to be recorded, tabulated, cut and pasted the way I requested. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was about creating this report, although the frustration I felt was eerily familiar. But I was still stumped.
Then I woke up this morning and it all made sense: geometry!
Was I asking this guy to do geometry? No, but I was asking him to arrange something in a way he was unfamiliar with and he protested because he was a numbers guy and thought, This just isn’t how you relay this data.
Related: At Work, Emotional Intelligence Pays
My go-to brain guru, Howard Gardner, taught in his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences that people don't possess one specific kind of intelligence but rather individuals have multiple strengths and each person carries a unique blend of them.
A lot of the smarty pants you encountered in geometry class are probably logical-mathematical types who, as Gardner purported, do well with abstractions, reasoning, numbers and critical thinking and have the capacity to “understand the underlying principles of some kind of causal system,” which logical reasoning is closely linked to.
Well, I can barely figure out what that quote means, so clearly I am not the logical-mathematical type. But this, ahem, stubborn, vendor was. I, in fact, lean heavily toward the interpersonal type of intelligence that Gardner branded as working well with others, being sensitive to their moods and motivations and getting them to cooperate in a group.
Clearly I was failing at my own game, though, because exactly no one was cooperating. I just couldn't get this guy to see what I wanted him to create or understand that the only way I could effectively make sense of the data was to have it organized in a certain manner, one that made sense to my creative brain.
Is it really so annoying to create a report in the format a client desires if you're paid well? Why not just make the customer happy?
This notion should be at the root of businesses: How can business owners give customers what they want and how they want it? Most entrepreneurs build their businesses backward.
But giving clients what they think they need is best delivered by using emotional intelligence.
Here’s my formula for using emotional intelligence to make more money and save everyone a lot of angst:
1. Identify a target audience that’s big enough to serve, yet niche enough so you’re not everything to everyone and ideally a group that's very frustrated with the options currently available.
2. Get inside their heads and identify exactly what's keeping them up at night.
3. Present a solution that blows away the competition. Find a bold alternative that works.
4. Meet your customers where they are. Just give them what they want, when they want it. Period. It’s the crux of selling in the new luxury market and applies to every market as long as you can charge appropriately.
5. Get over yourself. Who cares if you think proofs or spreadsheets should be formatted in a certain way. Move over superstar, successful people in business don’t focus on their way: They focus on their customer’s way.
Remember, passion is great: Most entrepreneurs build their businesses around something they're passionate about doing, which is crucial to company longevity and success. But they cannot lose sight of who signs the paychecks: the customer.
The secret formula is to start a business that you’re passionate about and provide solutions in the most efficient manner and the format your customers crave so they can still be passionate about their businesses, make money, and in return, give you more work. Hello, superfat piggy bank!
And it didn’t even take a logical-mathematical type to give you the secret.