302 – Emotional Intelligence (Preview)

Emotional Intelligence is also known as your Emotional Quotient, or EQ. Like IQ, the measure of how head smart you are, EQ is the measure of how emotionally smart you are. It’s very important to have a high EQ when working in a profession so centered on the customer as the profession of the barista. So what is Emotional Intelligence?

EQ is defined as having five basic abilities that are applied in any interaction with other human beings. They are,

  1. Self-awareness. This is always knowing how you feel and how your current emotions and actions are impacting those around you. It means you know your strengths and weaknesses. You know what pushes your own buttons. If you’re weak in this area, try slowing down and being in the moment more often. Notice when you get angry. Ask yourself why. Notice when you’re excited. Ask yourself why.
  2. Self-regulation. Not only does it help to be aware of your emotions, it’s good to regulate them as well. When a customer attacks you or your coffee shop or whatever, holding in your tendency to verbally attack is a good sign of self-regulation. This doesn’t mean you need to become weak and let others stomp all over you. It’s actually a sign of great strength. Meekness is not weakness. It’s an ability to harness strength. If you’re weak in this area try discovering what you value about life. Knowing your values will help you stay true to who you are when you’re in the heat of the moment. A self-regulating person rarely regrets what they say or do to others.
  3. Motivation. When you have a high EQ, it means you maintain a high standard for quality in your work as a barista. This is extremely valuable to the coffee shop owner. The coffee you make isn’t a commodity like so many corporately-owned franchises. It’s an art. Your EQ will help you keep high the standards of quality on a drink by drink basis. How do you know you’re standards are high enough? Ask your boss. Ask a few customers you know well. See what others are saying about the quality (and consistency) you produce.
  4. Empathy. High emotional intelligence means you are able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes; to know what it’s like on the other side of the counter. Every customer brings to your shop all the experiences they’ve been dealing with. Some customers will approach the counter in tremendous frustration. Others will be bubbly and alive. Some will be extremely sad. Putting yourself in their shoes will help you relate with them on a deep level. How do you know you’re empathetic enough? Watch your body language. See what it is saying to others.
  5. Social skills. This is probably the most important aspect of EQ for the barista. This means you are good at handling whatever comes along, good or bad. You are able to handle a dissatisfied customer and make it right without taking it personally. You are able to engage with a customer who praises you without getting arrogant. How do you know you have good social skills? The next time you’re in a conflict, watch how you react and respond. If you are able to stay in the conversation and realistically handle the anger, you are on your way to having good social skill.
Back to: Barista Academy > Module Three - Soft Skills

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