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  • Writer's picturePGAA Tax

Are tax professionals emotionally intelligent and does it matter?

For technical, data-heavy jobs, emotional intelligence can be a preferred quality rather than a required ability for hiring new tax professionals. But I argue otherwise. Emotional intelligence is a foundational ability correlated with higher life satisfaction, self-esteem, and lower levels of insecurity or depression. That sounds super important for tax professionals sometimes working long hours where bandwidth gets short, with dynamic teams on high-impact tasks. Having a highly emotional intelligent tax team will make for a greased machine, working together efficiently and responding to the needs of your teammates and vice versa. Humans are fluid, emotional beings, and understanding this fact makes collaboration more pleasant and efficient.

Hopefully, your emotional intelligence practice got started in grade school. Remember being graded in pre-school on things like sharing, helping others, listening, and showing remorse when you made Timmy cry on the playground? This isn't that much different from adults. Read on and then take a few tests listed below to grade your adult emotional intelligence and see where you might want to stretch your skills.

Pillars of Emotional Intelligence

When it comes to emotional intelligence, four different components make emotional intelligence. As you read along, think about yourself in your tax teams, and make a mental note of how this might relate to doing a better job bringing your best self to work.

1. Self-Regulation (manage): This is all about feeling your feelings all the way through so they don't get projected onto someone else or create a foggy brain and negatively impact your work and relationships. A good practice is to check in with yourself (ex. How am I feeling? What's my vibe? What prevailing emotion am I bringing to the table right now?) Some staff meeting leaders will ask for a two-word check-in so everyone can practice putting words to feelings and increasing group awareness/empathy. Regular check-ins make a person more emotionally intelligent. Managing your emotions in this way gives rise to self-awareness and brings out emotional competence in a person.

2. Self-Awareness (understand): Why and when you are behaving in a certain way is something that you can consciously monitor. This will help you know your weaknesses and strengths. It is important to take accountability for how you feel and trust that you can manage feelings/triggers/frustrations in the workplace and not point fingers at someone else to solve your feelings or change so you aren't activated. As a teacher once said, "When you point a finger, there's always three pointing back at yourself."

3. Empathy (perceive): If you want to connect with other people and have clear and positive relations, it is essential to bring empathy and compassion to your behavior. Empathy is the tried and true, "I am imagining myself in your shoes." This is compassionate imagination, and the more you perceive someone else's experiences, the more you can connect and "read the room"; this will increase productivity and motivation in the office.

4. Motivation and Social Skills (use): Using emotional intelligence in the workplace is critical. Feeling seen and heard in work relationships will lead to more collaboration, trust, and motivation.

Take a test and begin the journey to increasing your emotional intelligence! Remember your report card where the teacher would grade "works well with others?" It is the adult version!


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