“The key for procurement professionals to deliver strategically is through the development and use of the right soft skills.”
(Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply)
Emotional intelligence (EI) is a foundation for developing and improving soft skills. Understanding emotional intelligence is a way of improving soft skills for procurement professionals. EI is defined as “the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions as well as the emotions of others”. People who have high emotional intelligence will instinctively create an alignment with others and can easily build rapport and trust. They have natural empathy and will pick up on the concerns and needs of all stakeholders. For example, in a group meeting they will notice those who don’t get their say and will seek to ensure everyone is engaged. They will have the ability to diffuse emotionally charged situations that could easily escalate and become unproductive. They are innately motivated to seek win / win outcomes and have the ability to influence and communicate winning ideas and strategies that resonate with other people.
Emotional intelligence is a human skill and just like any other personal skill it can be learned and improved by developing more self-awareness, self-reflection and by taking the time to practise.
In this article we explore 3 ways to improve soft skills for procurement professionals by using communication techniques; rapport, re-framing and chunking. Each can help to develop both EI and soft skills to improve any interpersonal relationship.
Rapport is the single most important factor for communication and building relationships. With rapport you can influence, people are much more likely to share information, listen and accept others’ ideas and will be motivated to create opportunities together.
It is important to note that in building rapport our body language has a large part to play, particularly our facial expressions. Rapport has to be genuine, most of us have probably experienced a time or a situation with another person when the words being spoken by them haven’t matched the nonverbal (body language) messages. When you build rapport you must be both genuine and consistent. Refer: Albert Mehrabian model
- Simply being friendly and approachable will build rapport
- Showing an interest in the other person (develop your listening skills)
- Look for the humanity in a person
- Find reasons to like the person (even if you don’t initially feel a rapport or connection)
- Think about rapport as building a bridge between yourself and the other person by finding the
common ground between you such as shared experiences, sport or interests
- Consider your body language and what you might be ‘saying’ unconsciously to the other person.
There may be a time when our ideas are not being taken up, or the other person just doesn’t seem to ‘get it’. First of all, you need to become aware of your need to reframe. A deeper awareness of the other person will alert you to notice that you have lost rapport or that they seem disinterested. Then try reframing your idea and offering a different perspective to them. It’s a bit like asking someone to put on a new pair of glasses and see the world in a new way from a different perspective. The world hasn’t changed, but the way you are enabling them to view it has.
- Problem Solving
- creating a vast array of solutions to a problem
- turning a problem or challenge into an opportunity
- looking at the problem from different angles
- generating new ideas
- Relationship management:
- when there doesn’t seem to be a solution to a problem
- when the relationship hits a difficult situation – perhaps performance issues or supply shortages – reframing can help to manage emotions and allow clear thinking
- Negotiation: as a recovery method when there is an impasse.
- Behavioural Change: when someone is stuck in a fixed mind-set or an unhelpful pattern of behaviour or habit.
– Brian McGreevy
The chunking process involves taking individual pieces of information and grouping them into larger chunks. For example a chunked number 256 – 894 – 879 is easier to remember than 256894879.
- Begin with the most important point you want to make (concepts or titles)
- Break each concept or point into smaller but related points
- Order the information in a logical order
- See if you can remove any detail without losing the value of the communication
- Use pictures as visual cues to help support your points
– George Johnson
Read our Supplier Relationship Management series here:
Realising the benefits of Supplier Relationship Management
5 ways to mitigate the risk of supplier failure
3 ways to develop soft skills for procurement professionals
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