This world we live in is a social one, and no one can walk this earth without interacting with other people in their lifetime. Even Tarzan and Mowgli, the fictional cartoon characters raised by animals, finally met and interacted with humans.
On average, each person will meet about 80,000 people (a pretty large number) in their lifetime and have to interact with them. For fashion entrepreneurs, who meet with various people – vendors, employees, clients, prospective clients and other fashion designers – in the course of building a fashion brand, this means that emotional intelligence is needed.
This week, we spoke with Mr. Dipo Adebayo on emotional intelligence for fashion designers.
Mr. Dipo Adebayo is the Founder of Oasis Training Academy and co-founder of Isosceles Water Solutions. Oasis Training Academy is a corporate training academy devoted to helping people become more productive at work by equipping them with workplace softskills. Mr. Adebayo is also a writer, public speaker, trainer, civil engineer and teenage counselor.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
According to him, in order to be able to effectively define emotional intelligence, a foundation on emotions needs to be laid first.
Let’s give a little illustration, shall we? Think of emotions as fire. Just as you can either harness fire to drive steam engines or chemical reactions, you can leave it to burn uncontrolled and rage, consuming anything in its way; so are emotions.
Emotions can drive you forward or burn you down. – Dipo Adebayo.
Emotions are powerful and we are controlled by them more often than we think. We might feel like rationale drives our actions many times, but the truth is that emotions like fear, joy, hope, jealousy, pride, shame and others are often the real driving force behind our actions. Emotions, therefore, need to be managed effectively to help us live happier and more productive lives.
If we don’t get a grip on our emotions, like a wild dog let loose, they may run wild and lead us in the wrong direction.
“So, building on this foundation,” he said, “we can define Emotional Intelligence as understanding and effectively managing our emotions, and also understanding and influencing the emotions of others.”
Emotional Intelligence is intelligently managing our emotions and influencing that of others.
As a fashion entrepreneur, you need emotional intelligence to understand the key feelings that drives your target market. When you understand how your clients want your outfits to make them feel, you will be able to design items that provide them with that feeling.
What are some of the Characteristics of Emotionally Intelligent People?
There are 4 key traits emotional intelligent people possess;
1. Self Awareness:
This is the part of emotional intelligence that deals with understanding your emotions. To understand means to be able to identify what emotions you feel at a particular time and the root cause of these emotions.
Self awareness also means knowing the things that move your emotions either in the negative or positive direction. E.g. knowing the things that make you happy, sad, angry, worried, excited etc.
2. Self Control:
Self control is that aspect of emotional intelligence that involves managing your emotions. To manage your emotions simply means to control them. So, not only can you identify your emotions, you can also control them and how your actions give expression to them.
An important part of emotional intelligence is that of influencing the emotions of others, but to influence someone else’s emotions you first have to understand them. Empathy comes in here.
Empathy is that ability to put yourself in the shoes of another and see situations through their eyes. It also involves trying to feel what they feel in those situations.
4. Social Skills:
After understanding the emotions of others, it is important to be able to influence their emotions – this is where social skills come into play. Social skills include listening, communication, connection, motivation, conflict resolution, respect and relationship management.
Ways to Apply Emotional Intelligence in Relating with Employees and Clients
Relating with your employees and clients in an emotionally intelligent manner involves applying all of the aforementioned traits in your daily life.
Be more empathetic towards both your employees and clients and try to understand the underlying feelings behind their requests, criticism and complaints. Don’t take anything personal.
The more you understand the underlying feelings of your clients and employees, and use the right social skills to attend to them, the more success you’ll have with them, and build loyalty in them.
Ways to Build Emotional Intelligence as an Entrepreneur
Like anything else in life, practice makes perfect. Make it a habit to practice emotional intelligence skills to be a master at it. Don’t just practice it with employees and clients, practice with yourself first.
The more you understand and manage yourself, the better you’ll become at understanding and managing others. Read books on emotional intelligence and take trainings or courses. And remember, dont just learn, practice also.
In closing, he said, “Entrepreneurship is about deeply understanding the needs of your market and then developing solutions to meet those needs. Often these needs are tied to feelings, so as a fashion entrepreneur you have a duty to enquire about the needs of your unique market.
“Ask them questions, study them, research on them, know the feelings that drive their buying decisions, feelings they may not even be aware of. Then, go to your drawing table, and develop great designs to meet those feelings. You’re in the business of feelings. Don’t forget that!”