How Can Emotional Intelligence Affect the Workplace?


Joseph: Hey there, listeners. Thanks for tuning in to the #B2UPodcast brought to you by Our goal is to bring business resources directly to you. Once again, I’m your host, Joseph, and I’m excited to welcome entrepreneur, author, professor, and representative of the Carolina Small Business Development Fund, Mic Alexander, to the studio. Thanks for joining us, Mic.

Mic: Thanks for having me.

Joseph: So, Mic, you’re a professional with many talents, including being an entrepreneur for over 37 years. Tell us more about your entrepreneurial journey and how you successfully have done so many things throughout your career.

Mic: Well, my entrepreneurial journey has been a roller coaster ride, to put it mildly. But, I started out very young with small businesses like jewelry making, I had a custom jewelry maker that I sold jewelry with, importing clothes from Nigeria when I was very young, just trying my hand at a lot of different things, not knowing what I really wanted to do. But then as fate would have it, my father opened a printing company in 1990, October. And I came to visit to discuss my other ventures that I was doing, found out they had this business and that the business had no clients and it was three months old, and so my goal was to come to Charlotte and close the business. And I thought that would take me about six months. And 14 years later, I was retiring him from the business because I became the CEO right away. And he and my mother, who eventually retired from another career and came into the business as our COO. And we went on to do great things in that business, making it to a multi-million-dollar corporation and hiring lots of people, and I like to say families, and, but it was not an easy road by any stretch of the imagination.

Joseph: I can imagine. Entrepreneurship is never ending. They always say the path of least resistance that’s not the entrepreneurial path.

Mic: It sure isn’t and often people see the end result. And they you know, get the accolades and the awards, but they don’t realize all the heartbreak and the sleepless nights and all that, that go along with it.

Joseph: Definitely makes sense. Well, Mic, you’re here today to talk to us about something I personally don’t know that much about, emotional intelligence. I’m in touch with my feelings, but let’s talk about this from a business perspective, right? So to start, what is emotional intelligence?

Mic: Emotional intelligence is the ability to properly identify your emotions first. Have the tools to manage them correctly, communicate about them under pressure, and then to do the same with others, to recognize their emotions and to be able to have empathy for theirs. So, it really is about properly labeling what you are experiencing as a first step, and then managing those emotions through to the other side.

Joseph: That makes sense. So, what are some signs that someone may have a high sense of emotional intelligence?

Mic: Well, it would have been easier if you would’ve asked me what they don’t have, because I could say that person that throws the glass across the room.

Joseph: Not a lot of emotional intelligence right there.

Mic: If they have the high sign of emotional intelligence, then they’re highly communicative about anything, just about at any place and time. They’re able to express what they’re feeling and if they’re very high on the EQ scale, they have a language that we learn, bound to be able to express what’s going on without giving you details or personal details of what’s happening. But they’re able to manage that emotion to a point of being able to make a good decision under pressure. Once that decision is made and the situation is gone, then they’re able to run those emotions through so that they’re not carrying around bad emotions or heavy emotions and then triggered later on. So, they know how to manage that process. And it is a process.

Joseph: So, when you’re mad, I guess you have to be able to communicate what you’re upset about, and then translate that into an actionable item. Better word, I guess, layman’s terms for emotional intelligence?

Mic: Uh yes, that’s a good way to describe it;  anger is the one most people go to. But there are so many others that people have struggle with managing. But if you are angry, then a high EQ person would be able to manage the reaction to the anger. So, they’re not managing the anger because we can’t control what we’re feeling, but they’re able to manage their emotions to the point where they’re able to restrain a reaction in order to make a good decision, and then later on, go back and address that. Right? So, we don’t want to address this anger in the moment of the anger, we want to address the solution.

Joseph: Right, makes sense. So, could you give us some common examples of when a business owner might need to tap into their emotional intelligence?

Mic: Yes, like when we’re in the middle of a printing job, a multi-million-dollar printing job, and my father walks in and says, “Find me a new press operator.” Because he just fired the person because he got angry at them. And we’re in the middle of a project.

Joseph: Right, that’s not good. It’s never a good situation.

Mic: That is never good. And not like press operators grow on trees, either. So, you know, especially in family businesses, it’s really important to be able to manage your emotions, because we blur the lines a lot between dad and press operator or, you know, CEO, or whatever the role is. But having the ability to breathe through it, because that is one of the first tools we teach you is how to breathe, and then to be able to say, “What is the solution?” And to focus on the solution first. Then to go back and say, “All right, this is what upset me.” And that doesn’t mean you’re not going to yell and scream in that process. It’s usually done in a safe environment, where the people who are involved with you understand the process for addressing these lower level emotions. We like to call them lower level and not necessarily negative because all emotions are important.

Joseph: Makes sense. That definitely sounds like the coach and parent situation. When the coach, if your parent is your athletic coach and you’re upset on the field and that can’t come back home. So, it sounds very kind of closely tied.

Mic: Yes, very much so. So, it’s showing some amount of restraint. But I want to be clear that there’s a thin line between managing emotion and controlling emotion.

Joseph: Okay, what’s the difference?

Mic: So, controlling the emotion, it would be more like suppressing it in the moment. Managing it means you have the ability to suppress it, but you must address it because it’s going to, to come up again. You’re going to be triggered somewhere around down the road, and it’s probably not going to be at the right time. So, by managing it you have an actual process that you work through and that will teach you to be able to work through it.

Joseph: So Mic, how can small business owners use emotional intelligence to create a better business environment for their employees, clients, and…?

Mic: Small business owners can create a better business environment by learning to use the process of emotional intelligence to manage their own emotions first. Then they will teach that to their employees and their employees will begin to use it with one another and with their customers, which becomes a cultural, ingrained activity into the culture of that business.

Clients will recognize that there’s something different, employees will be happier, and the leader will be able to take the criticism from the employees, which is a big challenge for a lot of small business owners. Getting that feedback and being able to manage how they feel about it, will become an easier process and the business will continue to grow and it will be stabilized because everyone will be on the same page doing it for the right reasons, same, same reasons.

Joseph: Yeah, we always hear a lot about in corporate America, the culture of corporate America and things like that. But it sounds like business owners, small business owners can set that tone with properly using emotional intelligence in their own businesses.

Mic: Absolutely. And I actually think it’s even more important when it’s a small organization, because so many people are doing so many different roles. They’re under a tremendous amount of pressure to grow and it’s a fine line between the growth and having the money to be able to grow and hire people. So typically, until those revenues come in, everybody’s under pressure. So, having a high level of emotional intelligence ingrained in your culture will help in that growth spurt.

Joseph: Makes sense. Are there any tips or tricks that you can provide to help small business owners practice emotional intelligence?

Mic: Yes, don’t go into business. No, I’m just kidding.

Joseph: That’s the easiest one.

Mic: The first trick is the breathing. I mentioned it to you earlier that, when one can control their breathing…and I’m a martial artist, too. I practice Tai Chi, I am not a master. But, um, that’s one of the first things they teach you in order to control your temper. And to be able to have power, one must be able to be aware of how they’re breathing. So, the first thing we teach them is how to manage that breath, to calm their heartbeat down, to calm themselves down so that they can think more clearly.

So, once you learn that technique, then it becomes a matter of learning the communication or the language, which gives everyone the ability to be on the same page and to express how they’re feeling without having to be personal about it. So, I can tell you which zone I’m in, because we teach you zones, and you will know, “oh, she needs help”, “she needs space”, “she’s in a great mood, we can joke around together” without me telling you what’s going on with me personally. Because I find that, especially in small businesses, people don’t want to be personal or to get into their personal business until you really develop trust and a bond.

So, but if you give them a language and a process to be able to express how they’re feeling, without that, then everyone knows, don’t bother her, she’s not doing well. Don’t bother him, he needs space, or pick up the slack while he gets himself together. It just becomes an environment where everyone can be comfortable feeling normal about how they’re feeling,

Joseph: How many different zones are there?

Mic: There are three zones. Red, yellow, and green. Just like they teach in school.

Joseph: Okay. I was about to say, red probably would be that, don’t come by my desk today.

Mic: Red is, “I need help.” And most people, the status quo is yellow, right? So, we’re like, “Yeah, I’m here. I’m going to do my job. I’m not feeling all that great about it. But I’m going to get it done.” And then green is highly communicative. Being winning and friendly, and easily approachable.

Joseph: I see. I can see like a red, yellow, and green like smiley face on somebody’s desk right now.

Mic: Actually, that’s what we use.

Joseph: Okay, cool.

Mic: Have you been to my classes?

Joseph: Not yet, I need to go now. So, if a business owner is not the best at communicating during high-pressure situations, or confrontational situations, where can they get some assistance or advice to work on those things?

Mic: There are lots of books now on emotional intelligence. When I got into this, there wasn’t a whole lot out there. And at that time, I was actually calling it mood management, which I still refer to it as mood management. But there are many, many books, including my own. And there are training classes where you can become certified in emotional intelligence. Or you can just get the knowledge of how to be calm or how to work on your emotional intelligence. The thing to understand is that everyone experiences all of the zones, all of the time, in their life. And to be able to understand that just because you may be feeling or experiencing a red zone, does not make you a red zone person. So, when we can understand that we are not our moods, we are just experiencing a mood, then we can understand it’s going to change, and we’ll experience something else.

So, the very first step is understanding that. If they realize that they’re not good at communicating under pressure, that’s the first step or the first tool is presence and awareness. And from there, if you’re willing to study and you’re willing to practice, and believe me, life is going to give you a lot of opportunities to practice. Then, you can just, you can get better and it is a process. Beyond that, they can call me. I also do processing which is a part of the whole emotional intelligence curriculum, my curriculum that I’ve developed, which is teaching people how to ask themselves the proper questions to move themselves up the emotional scale, from red to yellow to green. And that’s just simply a process of knowing which questions to ask yourself.

Joseph: Definitely. Where can they find out more information about your course and your book?

Mic: My website is

Joseph: Okay.

Mic: And they can always email me,

Joseph: Okay. All right, thanks so much for joining us today. I definitely never realized how much your social intellect can really affect your day-to-day business practices. Is there anything else that you would like to share before we close a bit?

Mic: Yes, I did want to just talk one minute about my role as a business advisor for the Carolina Small Business Development Fund. We are a nonprofit organization that makes small business loans or microloans up to $250,000. But what makes us unique is that, when you become part of our portfolio, you’re entitled to a business advisor. And that would be me in the Mecklenburg County, and I am working with these individuals throughout the life of the loan. And part of that process is helping them to train in emotional intelligence. So, I will give them the technical assistance they need to make their businesses successful, but I’m really concerned about their mental health and I want to give them the tools they need to be sustainable.

Joseph: Yeah, definitely makes sense and you’ve got to be mentally healthy or you’ll ruin your business.

Mic: That’s it.

Joseph: Don’t want to drive yourself up a wall, at the same time.

Mic: That’s right. You don’t want to work so hard that you can’t enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Joseph: Definitely. Well, listeners that does it for today’s episode. Once again, I’m your host, Joseph. And thank you for tuning in to the #B2UPodcast brought to you by If you have any questions about today’s episode, feel free to tweet us @cbrbiz. And until next time, we mean business.

Do you have a topic you’d like to hear us cover on our #B2UPodcast? Tweet us @CBRBiz!

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