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Emotional Intelligence: the Key to Success

What’s more important: EQ or IQ? In the hospitality industry, many business owners are beginning to realize the significance of the latter.

EQ, or Emotional Quotient, refers to the ability to properly acknowledge, understand and manage one’s own emotions in order to interact and communicate properly with others, relieve stress, and manage stressful situations. In other words: emotional intelligence.

It would make sense that emotional intelligence is a necessary and desirable trait to have in a colleague or leader in the hospitality industry – which, at its core, exists to make guests feel happy, welcome and comfortable. It would also be safe to say that the success of any hospitality establishment depends on the good nature of its employees. According to Forbes, one of the soft skills that are vital to a business’s success is emotional intelligence, and by 2030 employment requiring these soft skills is estimated to account for two-thirds of all positions.

So, what makes for an emotionally intelligent employee, and how does having a high EQ improve the quality of customer service? Here are five traits to look out for:



Known as the cornerstone of EQ development, self-awareness is the ability to recognize one’s own emotions and how they affect the individual and others around them. It would be difficult for one to demonstrate the other competencies of an emotionally healthy individual without it. In order to become more self-aware, an individual must regularly assess his or her own moods and feelings in order to understand, control, and deal with their emotions to ensure that they do not get in the way of personal or professional responsibilities and relationships.



Self-regulation refers to the ability to control impulsive feelings and behaviors. An individual who can regulate their own emotions can remain level-headed enough to address and correct their mistakes. Self-regulation even helps set personal and professional boundaries because it grants one the ability to say “no,” which shows that the individual values their commitments and responsibilities.

This trait makes an employee highly adaptable to changing circumstances. In an industry as hectic and unpredictable as Hospitality, an employee with the trait of self-regulation can transition effortlessly through changes and challenges, helping them adapt to the daily demands of work.



Empathy refers to the awareness and consideration for other people’s feelings: the quality that lets one imagine themselves in the shoes of another. In an increasingly globalized world, empathy is vital to understanding diverse cultures and environments in order to avoid conflict and misunderstandings. Empathizing with others helps one build strong relationships with customers and co-workers alike, which helps build strong relationships and fosters an environment of trust and loyalty. empathetic individuals are capable of developing others in the team, offering constructive feedback and calling out undesirable behaviors when necessary.



Motivation is the quality that allows one to accomplish their goals. A motivated individual has the natural desire to learn and improve. In their strive for excellence, motivation allows one to question the status quo and to explore new methods to achieve what they set out to do. With their consistency and high standards, motivated people also set an example that others are inspired to emulate, which leads to growth and success in the team.


Social Awareness

Social awareness refers to the ability to “read the room”. Socially aware individuals are comfortable with people, and are capable of easily picking up emotional and social cues. They are also effective communicators: they know when to talk and when to listen, which leads to better understanding and stronger relationships. In addition, because they are so good at interpersonal communication, they make excellent mediators in times of conflict.


At the end of the day, emotionally intelligent employees understand their guests have one desire: to be understood. Employees possessing a high EQ are vital to any business that hopes to succeed in the long run.

However, employers must be aware that emotional intelligence starts with a healthy work environment, which in turn heavily impacts employee loyalty and retention. Employees who are nurtured in an environment where they feel valued and understood will be motivated to serve an establishment for many years to come, and are more likely to serve guests with the same compassion and sensitivity that was shown to them.

This has a direct impact on customer retention as well. Research suggests that, while standardized service and a clean, quality environment is always advantageous to any establishment, guests’ decision to return to an establishment is also dependent on how the employees made them feel during their stay. In that respect, emotionally intelligent employees are one of the key factors that successfully differentiate a business from the rest. They help build the bridge between the business and its clients, thereby ensuring long term success.