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Emotional Intelligence and Sales Performance

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The concept of emotion as a relevant factor in any profound field of study is not sufficiently exploited. However, emotion is slowly beginning to get noticed by researchers and scholars, particularly in the field of sales management and developmental psychology. In sales management, attention is being directed towards the development of certain skills that would make salespersons more competitive and efficient in the field.

On the other hand, psychological studies are now exploring the neglected aspect of emotional intelligence (Kunnanatt, 2004). Psychologists are steering away from the universally accepted standard of cognitive intelligence and taking the cue from Daniel Goleman in opening up for the possibility of another kind of intelligence that is potentially more important than cognitive intelligence.

            This thesis attempts to correlate the results and suggestions of the recent trend in favor of the recognition of emotion as a relevant factor, both in sales management and in psychological theory. It examines the relationship between the psychological construct of Emotional Intelligence (Goleman, 1998) and its impact and influence on successful real estate agents as measured by annual dollars in sales.

            The important role to be played by Goleman’s construct is intimately related to the accepted standards of the real estate industry when they assess their real estate agents. This is so, because despite the vastness of the employment networks of these real estate companies, much of their corporate successes depend on the individual capabilities of their real estate agents, who are responsible for winning the clients over. It is therefore safe to say that the success of any company is dependent on the personality and efforts of each individual agent.

            Experience would show that successful real estate agents rely heavily on a variety of personality traits and sales techniques to build professional relationships and increase performance with their clients. This observation is strengthened by the fact that Onetcenter.org, the official website for Organizational Development, identifies the following main characteristics as essential to any successful real estate agent:

  • Effective Negotiator
  • Informative Educator
  • Active listener
  • Interpersonal communicator
  • Able to build trust

            Following the premise that successful real estate agents are equipped with specific characteristics, real estate corporations are very much interested in knowing precisely what these characteristics are, and how they can be transferred to their agents.

            In the highly competitive world of Real Estate industry, corporations employ a variety of techniques and philosophies to gain and sustain a sales edge and significant market share over their competitors. These corporations are willing to spend a substantial amount on what they believe would make their agents sell more. Such costs would serve as their investment towards good business in the near future.

            Nowadays, sales training is seen by corporations as the best strategy to uplift the quality of their sales team, and it is quite common for companies to spend billions of dollars on sales training. (Wilson, et al., 2002). This trend is relevant to this study because of its underpinnings that can be traced to a belief in the power of emotional intelligence. Sales training does not focus on the development of the academic excellence of its agents; rather, it concentrates on the abilities and attitudes, inherent or otherwise, of the individual salespersons.

            Significantly, the accepted characteristics possessed by successful real estate agents can be related to the concept of emotional intelligence developed by Goleman in the 1990s. (Goleman, 1998). While it is undeniable that real estate agents would find a high intelligence quotient (IQ) handy, there are some research findings that suggest that professional success is more properly attributed to non-cognitive intelligences, such as emotional intelligence. It is observed that today’s real estate salesperson needs more than technical expertise and a high IQ in order to succeed. Research shows that emotional intelligence may actually be more important than intellectual and technical abilities (Goleman, 1998; Manna & Smith, 2004: McCoy, 1997).

            Emotional intelligence as defined by Daniel Goleman (1998) is said to determine one’s potential for learning practical and effective emotional management skills that, in turn, translate into successful life management tools.

            Goleman (1998) posits that emotional intelligence is essentially a composite of the following traits:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Adeptness in relationships

            Research studies suggest that individuals with higher emotional intelligence i.e. traits listed above, in a wide variety of situations and settings; tend to be more effective in their overall performance (Cooper, 1997; Dulewicz, 2000; Goleman, 1995).

Statement of the Problem

This dissertation critically examines Goleman’s (1998) psychological construct of Emotional Intelligence and its correlation to superior performance, more specifically, sales performance in annual dollars in the real estate industry.  Research data will be used to test the hypothesis that the criteria/traits of emotional intelligence delineated above are positively correlated with better overall performance and success in annual real estate sales.

It is hypothesized that emotional intelligence contributes to other related sales skills such as active listening, empathetic understanding of clients’ needs, effective communication skills, and powerful negotiation techniques. Conversely, the absence of emotional intelligence traits would result in a deficit of these related skills and hence, a poor sales record in annual dollar sales.

            The research design will compare two groups; Group A – Individuals with high Emotional Intelligence measures and Group B – Individuals with low Emotional Intelligence measures and test the hypothesis that salespeople who possess high Emotional Intelligence tend to do significantly better in terms of actual annual sales figures as compared to salespeople who are relatively deficient in the criteria of Emotional Intelligence.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to determine if there is a relationship between annual sales dollars earned and the components of emotional intelligence. It is proposed that real estate agents who are motivated, inspired, and positive towards life are the ones who make it big in the real estate business. Moreover, salespeople who demonstrate knowledge of their clients’ values and beliefs and those who show empathy are the ones who win their clients over and bring big accounts into the company.

Research Questions

            This dissertation aims to determine the extent of participation of emotional intelligence in the sales performance of real estate professionals, as measured by annual dollars in sales. Correspondingly, this dissertation shall ascertain whether there is a positive correlation between a high emotional intelligence (EI) score and the amount of financial earnings in the real estate profession.

            One hypothesis is that salespeople who possess high emotional intelligence tend to do significantly better in terms of actual annual sales figures as compared to salespeople who score lower in the criteria of emotional intelligence. In order to test this hypothesis a measure of emotional intelligence and information regarding annual sales dollars must be examined.

This is essentially a correlative study. However, for purposes of discussion, the following variables will be analyzed: The independent variable will be the emotional intelligence scores provided through the Emotional Intelligence Appraisal (EIA) ME edition. The dependent variable will be the sales performance as measured in dollars per annual sales of real estate.

            It is suggested that lower emotional intelligence may positively correlate with lower dollars per annual sales.

            A second hypothesis would be that real estate agents with low scores based on the emotional intelligence criteria will perform relatively poorly as measured in annual dollars in sales. This hypothesis will serve as a corollary to the first.

Research Limitations

            This dissertation is limited in at least two respects. Firstly, as in any self-report inventory, scores can easily be exaggerated or minimized by the person taking the inventory. The answers depend on the viewpoint of the subject, and therefore, not objective.

            Secondly, the correlation between emotional intelligence and good sales performance will only be tested by looking at the figures of annual sales in dollars. Other relevant criteria may have been left out. Nevertheless, this dissertation shall provide relevant and new information regarding the correlation between these two different branches of study.

Definition of Terms

            Ability to build trust is the skill of building on individual confidence and eliminating fear. This concept also includes authenticity, empathy, and genuineness.

            Educator is a person who has the ability to teach clients about the real estate concepts and what to reasonably expect in the transactions involved in real estate.

            Emotional Intelligence is a psychological construct substantiated by research. It consists of abilities, such as self-control, zeal, persistence, and the ability to motivate oneself, which abilities can be taught to children in order to equip them with necessary tools in living (Goleman, 1998)

            Good listener is a person who has the ability to accurately hear others’ needs.

            Interpersonal Communicator is a person who sends or receives information or communication with another person.

            Negotiation is the process of bargaining over price and conditions.

Goleman’s Constructs

            Adeptness In Relationships is the ability to analyze and understand relationship transactions. It means being good at resolving conflict and possessing sound negotiating and communication skills.

            Empathy is listening with an attunement to the subtle social signals that indicate what

others need or want.

            Motivation is the marshaling of feelings like enthusiasm and confidence to enhance achievement.

            Self Awareness is the state of recognition of a cognition or feeling as it happens.

            Self Regulation is the capacity to soothe oneself, to shake off rampant anxiety, gloom, or irritability.


            The concept of emotional intelligence as developed by Daniel Goleman (1995) consists of several traits, including self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and adeptness in relationships (Goleman, 1995). Significantly, these traits are also among those generally accepted to be characteristics common to successful real estate agents.

            This study will explore the extent of correlation between these two sets of constructs  in order to verify whether a high emotional quotient necessarily results in more sales in dollars, or vice versa. In order to accomplish said goal, this dissertation shall review some studies made on the matter, and utilize them in making a new conclusion.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Emotional Intelligence Overview

Historical Background

            In the field of behavioral sciences, it is perhaps the concept of emotional intelligence that is the newest in terms of exploration and study (Kunnanatt, 2004). While cognitive intelligence has long received numerous attention from psychologists and researchers, emotional intelligence first received attention in 1890. The concept of emotion began as an unpopular concept, so much so that it “has been until recently a taboo topic among neuroscientists and developmental psychologists,” and the very term emotion itself was seen as problematic (Rose, 2005).

            Emotion started getting attention in 1884, when William James published a paper entitled “What is emotion” (Fineman, 1999, 289). James’ idea led a number of psychologists to explore the matter, causing New York Times social science journalist Daniel Goleman to write one of the most influential and progressive works in the literature on emotions (Ashkanasy, & Daus, 2005). His book, entitled “Emotional Intelligence,” rejected the idea of intelligence as a single entity and equated emotional intelligence with life successes (Goleman, 1995).

            Despite the freshness of the theory, some psychologists already conducted studies that developed Goleman’s original construct, such that emotional intelligence is now commonly associated with leadership skills and successes (Carmeli, 2003). Aside from such academic growth, the theory has also met a warm welcome in the business sector, with large corporations investing millions of dollars on developing emotional intelligence, in the hopes that such would lead to better performance at work (Kunnanatt, 2004).

Daniel Goleman’s Theory

            Goleman explains that his theory on emotional intelligence is a challenge to the prevalent but narrow view of intelligence, whereby it is held that there is a genetic given called IQ or intelligence quotient, which is unchangeable by life experience (Goleman, 1995). Under this prevalent theory, a person’s life is virtually controlled by a factor over which he has absolutely no control.

            In the field of psychology, cognition has always been a subject of study. Such predilection of researchers and psychologists is based on the Cartesian tradition of cogito ergo sum, and manifested by certain traditions of developmental psychology, such as the Piagetian tradition and psychotherapy (Rose, 2005).

            Goleman rejects such concept, and wonders for the reason why some people with a very high IQ fail, while those with moderate IQ succeed in life. Goleman went into a search for the factors that could influence the successes or failures of people, aside from the limited construct of intelligence quotient (Goleman, 1995).

            For Goleman, emotional intelligence consists of abilities, such as self-control, zeal, persistence, and the ability to motivate oneself, which abilities can be taught to children in order to equip them with necessary tools in living (Goleman, 1998). Thus, for Goleman, emotional intelligence can be taught and controlled, in contrast to the prevalent theory that intelligence is genetics based and therefore unmanageable (Goleman, 1998). Goleman’s model is an expanded theory of intelligence, which incorporates the factor of emotions and considers it as an aptitude for living.

            Goleman’s theory is largely influenced by Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, which delved into the philosophical underpinnings of virtue, character, and the good life. Human emotions guide one’s actions and thinking; therefore there is a need to know how to control these emotions such that a person’s actions would not go astray. He adopts the problem presented by Aristotle, which consists in finding how intelligence can be brought to human emotions (Goleman, 1995).

            Goleman’s construct was influenced by earlier works of Salovey and Mayer (Ashkanasy & Daus, 2005) and Howard Gardner (Goleman, 1995, 39-42). In 1990, Salovey and Mayer provided the initial definition of emotional intelligence “in terms of  an individual’s ability to perceive emotion in self and others, to understand

emotion, and then to manage emotion in self and others” (Ashkanasy & Daus, 2005).

            Howard Gardner was a psychologist at the Harvard Schools of Education, who rejected the theory of a monolithic kind of intelligence (Goleman, 1995, 39-42). Goleman agreed with Gardner that there are multiple intelligences, which the standard IQ test misses (Goleman, 1995, 39-42). Two of the multiple intelligences theorized by Gardner is interesting for Goleman’s theory: interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences. Interpersonal intelligences involve four distinct abilities: leadership, the ability to nurture relationships and keep friends, the ability to resolve conflicts, and skill at social analysis (Goleman, 1995, 39-42).

            On the other hand, intrapersonal intelligence is a “correlative ability, turned inward. It is a capacity to form an accurate, veridical model of oneself and to be able to use that model to operate effectively in life” (Goleman, 1995, 39-42).

            Goleman, however, was not satisfied with Gardner’s superficial treatment of the emotional aspect of his multiple intelligences theory. For Goleman, Gardner focused too much on the cognitive aspect, despite the latter’s belief that emotional intelligence is crucial in taking on the rough-and-tumble of life (Goleman, 1995, 39-42, 45).

            Goleman posits that the concept of emotional intelligence has great importance because it has a moral aspect. There exists a link between sentiment, character, and moral instincts. Thus he says, “There is growing evidence that fundamental ethical stances in life stem from underlying emotional capacities” (Goleman, 1995, xii). A person who has emotional intelligence is able to “rein in emotional impulse; to read another’s innermost feelings; to handle relationships smoothly” (Goleman, 1995, xiii).

            Goleman ends with a hopeful note. He visualizes that future educational systems would include programs designed to inculcate essential human competencies such as self-awareness, self-control, and empathy, and the arts of listening, resolving conflicts, and cooperation (Goleman, 1995, xiv-xv).

            Goleman on the nature of emotions.

            Emotions are seen as occupying a central role in the human psyche. The term ascribed to human beings, Homo sapiens, or the thinking species, is seen as terribly shortsighted in that science shows that emotions play a large part in defining the humanity of men. (Goleman, 1995, 4-5).

            Sociobiologists claim that the heart has a certain preeminence over the mind, especially in crucial moments. Goleman illustrated this position through the story of Gary and Mary Chauncey, victims of an Amtrak accident whose last acts involved the saving of their eleven-year-old daughter. (Goleman, 1995, 4-5). For Goleman, such acts show humanity, not because it manifests that the parents were thinking, but because they manifest a stronger force that influences human action: emotions. It is man’s emotions that give guidance in facing predicaments. They point man in certain directions. They provide man with a readiness to act (Goleman, 1995, 4-5).

            Etymology of Emotion.

            Goleman looked at the origin of the term emotion. Emotion comes from the Latin word motere, which means “to move,” while the prefix “e-” connotes “move away.” This means that there is in every emotion a tendency to act. Thus, all emotions are impulses to act, which impulses are instilled to man through evolution (Goleman, 1995, 6-7).

            Emotions are responses, though they do not readily appear as such. However, recent technological advances have helped researchers study the physiological connections between emotions and the body, which prove that each emotion has a unique role and distinctive biological signatures. For example, an increased activity in the brain center that inhibits negative feelings and increases available energy is a biological change associated with happiness while an increase in heart rate and blood flow into the hands are signs of anger. Goleman suggests that these biological tendencies are further shaped by our life experience and culture (Goleman, 1995, 7-9).

            Emotion and Mental Architecture.

            Goleman claims that there are constructs created by society, which are designed to tame or subdue human passion and emotions. Despite this, emotions do not fail to rise to some occasions and overwhelm reason. According to Goleman, these phenomena arise from the “basic architecture of mental life” (Goleman, 1995, 4). Over the course of a million years, the slow and deliberate forces of evolution shaped man’s emotions; thus, the responses we make on our encounters are not shaped solely by rational judgments nor personal history, but also by a distant ancestral past.

            For Goleman, our mental life is composed of two fundamentally different ways of knowing and consequently, two minds (Goleman, 1995, 9-10). The first one is the rational mind. This is the one responsible for logical thought and awareness. On the other hand, there is the emotional heart, that is more illogical and impulsive, but powerful (Goleman, 1995, 9-10).

            The existence of two different types of minds in the human brain leads to the emotional/rational dichotomy. Essentially there is a balance that exists between the two, and each exists quasi-independently of each other. Thus, to a certain extent, the rational mind depends on the emotional mind for guidance, and vice versa. (Goleman, 1995, 10-14, 30-32). However, Goleman claims that in certain instances, the emotional mind gets the upper hand. This happens when passions surge, making the rational mind ineffectual (Goleman, 1995, 9-10).

            Primacy of the emotional mind

            For Goleman, the potent hold of the emotions on the rational mind is explained by the evolution of the human brain. That part of the brain that is responsible for emotions grew on the most primitive part of the brain, the brainstem, long before the “neocortex,” or the thinking brain evolved (Goleman, 1995, 10-14). Thus, Goleman says, “[t]he fact that the thinking brain grew from the emotional reveals much about the relationship of thought to feeling; there was an emotional brain long before there was a rational one”  (Goleman, 1995, 10-14).

            Beyond the primacy in time of the emotional mind over the rational mind, Goleman looks at a more scientific reason behind the former’s supremacy over the latter. Looking into the actual architecture of the human mind, Goleman discovered that there is a “limbic system” that rings and borders the brainstem. “Limbic” comes from the Latin word “limbus,” which means “ring.” This limbic system is the new territory where the emotions were housed. Through evolution, two powerful tools, learning and memory, were refined in the limbic system (Goleman, 1995, 10-14).

            On the other hand, the neocortex, the seat of thought, developed on top of the limbic system only after the lapse of about a hundred million years. The neocortex contains the centers that comprehend the input from the senses. It is also responsible for the triumphs of art, civilization, and culture (Goleman, 1995, 10-14). Nevertheless, Goleman states that the neocortex does not govern all of emotional life. In certain instances, particularly involving crises and emergencies, the neocortex defers to the limbic system.

“Because so many of the brain’s higher centers sprouted from or extended the scope of the limbic area, the emotional brain plays a crucial role in neural architecture(Goleman, 1995, 10-14). Since the neocortex merely grew from the limbic system, it is closely intertwined with the emotional areas, thereby giving the emotional centers “immense power to influence the functioning of the rest of the brain – including its centers for thought (Goleman, 1995, 10-14).

            The relevance of emotional intelligence.

            The insufficiency of the theory regarding the importance of IQ in a successful life is underscored by the fact that IQ fails to provide an explanation on the phenomena of unsuccessful people who have high IQs. It appears that there is a big difference between people who have high rational intelligence and those who acquired abilities such as handling frustrations and controlling emotions.

            Goleman did not believe that academic intelligence can be put to measure vis-à-vis emotional intelligence. For him, “[A]cademic intelligence has little to do with emotional life” (Goleman, 1995, 35-37). Goleman believed that the biggest contributor to success is not IQ, but the other factors that are yet to be recognized. Thus, he said, “[A]t best, IQ contributes about 20 percent to the factors that determine life success, which leaves 80 percent to other forces” (Goleman, 1995, 4-5).

            For Goleman, academic intelligence does not prepare one for the turmoil that life’s vicissitudes bring (Goleman, 1995, 38-39).  He thus resents the fact despite the lack of assurance that a high IQ  is a ticket to prosperity, our culture is so fixated with academic abilities (Mandell & Pherwani, 2003) that emotional intelligence, a set of traits – some might call it character – that also matters immensely for our personal destiny, is totally ignored (Goleman, 1995, 38-39).

Goleman was interested with other, non-IQ forces that form the greater percentage of factors that affect life. For him, these other factors form the relatively new concept of emotional intelligence, which consist of abilities such as “being able to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations; to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one’s moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to thin; to empathize and to hope” (Goleman, 1995, 36).

            While Goleman does not deny the relevance of IQ, he views it merely as a separate competency from emotional intelligence. He believes that persons possess both of these competencies, albeit in varying combinations. However, Goleman believes that “of the two, emotional intelligence adds far more of the qualities that make us more fully human” (Goleman, 1995, 48-49).

            Moreover, Goleman believes that emotional intelligence better equips an individual with the tools he will need to survive in this world, such that an emotionally intelligent person is at an advantage in any domain of life. Comparing the basic differences between emotionally adept people from those who are not, Goleman says, “[p]eople with well-developed emotional skills are also more likely to be content and affective in their lives, mastering the habits of mind that foster their own productivity, people who cannot marshal some control over their emotional life fight inner battles that sabotage their ability for focused work and clear thought” (Goleman, 1995, 37-49).

Peter Salovey: Five Domains of Emotional Intelligence

            Goleman looked into the theories propounded by psychologists who followed Gardner’s lead, particularly Peter Salovey, who outlined in detail the five domains of emotional intelligence, which include knowing one’s emotions, managing emotions, motivating oneself, recognizing emotions in others, and handling relationships (Goleman, 1995, 45-48).

            Knowing one’s emotions means self-awareness. A person who is emotionally intelligent can identify his true feelings. This is important because “people with greater certainty about their feelings are better pilots of their lives, having a surer sense of how they really feel bout personal decisions” (Goleman, 1995, 45-48).

            Managing emotions means the ability to deal with negative feelings. It is relevant for a person to be adept in this domain, because individuals who “are poor in this ability are constantly battling feelings of distress, while those who excel in it can bounce back far more quickly from life’s setbacks and upsets” (Goleman, 1995, 45-48). Therefore, emotionally intelligent individuals are more likely to spend their time doing substantial work rather than to waste their time languishing in despair.

            Emotionally intelligent individuals are good at motivating themselves towards better productivity in their field (Goleman, 1995, 45-48). This domain is especially significant to persons in the sales business because they cannot afford to be unhurried in accomplishing their tasks. Motivation will provide the driving force that will shove salespeople into action.

            The ability to recognize emotions in others is another domain of emotional intelligence pointed out by Salovey.  Being “the fundamental social skill,” this ability makes a person successful in callings such as sales, teaching, and management (Goleman, 1995, 45-48). This is because this ability enables a person to be “more attuned to the subtle social signals that indicate what others need or want” (Goleman, 1995, 45-48).

            Finally, emotionally intelligent people are adept at handling relationships (Goleman, 1995, 45-48). According to Goleman, this ability is the one that secures “popularity, leadership and interpersonal effectiveness,” making those who possess it “social stars” (Goleman, 1995, 45-48).

Application of Construct in Organizational Study

            The importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace is not sufficiently explored by research. While this dissertation looks in particular to the connections between the construct of emotional intelligence vis-à-vis real estate agents, it would be helpful to note the effects of emotional intelligence to senior managers. There is a possibility that the results in one would be similar to those in the other, considering that both senior managers and real estate agents are members of an organization.

            Abraham Carmeli conducted a research on the relationship between emotional intelligence and the work attitudes and behavior of senior managers. Carmeli sent a direct-mail questionnaire to 262 senior managers who are employed as chief financial officers in the local government authorities in Israel (Carmeli, 2003).

            Carmeli used as dependent variables the job performance of the senior managers and their withdrawal intentions from the organization, which are measured by using scales consisting of various points, depending on the self-assessment of the respondents (Carmeli, 2003). On the other hand, Carmeli controlled the following variables: organizational size, tenure in the organization, gross income, and respondents’ age. He did not make gender of the respondents a variable because a great majority of the respondents were male (Carmeli, 2003).

            Carmeli is motivated by the fact that emotional intelligence has been receiving much attention, particularly in relation to being an important ingredient to successful leadership (Carmeli, 2003). He is also frustrated by the criticisms on Goleman’s works on emotional intelligence to the effect that his argument as to the unique contribution of emotional competencies on organizations is yet to find empirical support (Carmeli, 2003). Thus, Carmeli’s study serves to close the gap between emotional intelligence as a theory and emotional intelligence as applied in the workplace, by testing a group of emotionally intelligent senior managers employed in public sector organizations (Carmeli, 2003).

            Carmeli was clear as to the concept of emotional intelligence he adopts in his study. Since the concept of emotional intelligence is far from being settled, it is treated as either an ability or a personality trait. For Carmeli, however, emotional intelligence is “a competency that is expected to augment positive attitudes toward work, and drive positive behaviors and better outcomes” (Carmeli, 2003).

            Carmeli’s study is relevant for this one because it related the concept of emotional intelligence to many work related factors involving senior managers that are equally at play in the work environment of real estate agents (Carmeli, 2003). Therefore, his findings are excellent starting points for this study on the relationship of emotional intelligence and the success of real estate agents. In particular, Carmeli related the construct called emotional intelligence with work attitudes, work commitment, organizational commitment, career commitment, job involvement, work-family conflict, organizational citizenship behavior, work outcomes, and job performance (Carmeli, 2003).

            Carmeli’s conclusions give strong support to the general theory that emotional intelligence is a relevant factor in improving job performance. The results of his study “indicate that emotional intelligence is an important predictor of both contextual performance and task performance” (Carmeli, 2003).

            Carmeli identified only two areas wherein the study yielded negative relationship results between emotional intelligence and work-related attitudes and outcomes. These include job involvement and effect of work-family conflict on job satisfaction (Carmeli, 2003). It should be noted that Carmeli adopted the definition of work-family conflict as “a form of inter-role conflict in which the role pressures from work and family domains are mutually incompatible in some respect” (Carmeli, 2003).

This means that family roles of a senior manager have some conflict in at least three work-related aspects, namely, time, strain, and behavior (Carmeli, 2003). In light of this conclusion, Carmeli suggested that job involvement may be more complex than assumed, which means there could be other unexamined factors that affect such variable (Carmeli, 2003).

            However, more important findings can be gathered from Carmeli’s study. He found out that “emotional intelligence was positively and significantly related to job satisfaction” (Carmeli, 2003). This means that individuals who are emotionally intelligent display higher overall satisfaction in the workplace (Carmeli, 2003). Carmeli also concluded that emotionally intelligent senior managers tend to develop stronger emotional attachment or affective commitment to their respective organizations (Carmeli, 2003). They are also more committed to their career (Carmeli, 2003).

            Finally, Carmeli concluded that emotional intelligence is negatively related to withdrawal intentions from the organization and positively related to better job performance (Carmeli, 2003). Correspondingly, this means that senior managers with low emotional intelligence perform worse than their counterparts who have high emotional intelligence.

            Carmeli’s conclusions are significant in the literature of emotional intelligence in the workplace because they provide support to the theory that emotional intelligence is the factor that could spell the difference between professional success and failure.

Emotions in the Workplace

            Literature on the role of emotions in organizational studies is similar to literature on emotional intelligence with respect to recognition and treatment. Writers on the topic were similarly slow in integrating the concept of emotion among the other established factors influencing organizational success (Fineman, 1999, 289-290). Despite this poor historical status of emotion in organizational studies, recent developments are showing a shift in the framing of organizational studies in favor of including emotion, thereby offering the possibility of interdisciplinary convergence (Fineman, 1999, 289-290).

            The workplace is a fertile ground for the interplay of various human emotions. Workers feel joy, hope, exhilaration, sadness, and frustration while going through their everyday duties. These feelings influence the way these workers react and perform. Workers’ tasks, such as communicating with others and making decisions are not mere robotic responses that can be accomplished in the absence of emotion (Fineman, 1999, 289-290). Unfortunately, feelings and emotions in the workplace have, for the longest time, been taken for granted.

            From the historical viewpoint, emotion is not a very popular factor in the performance of individuals in the workplace (Fineman, 1999, 289-290). As in the case of psychology, the preference for cognition over emotion was common in the field of organizational study. Even in the rare occasions that emotion is acknowledged as a factor in work performance, writers often find cognitive processes that could explain emotion (Fineman, 1999, 289-290).

            Despite this trend, emotion was still able to penetrate the organizational studies scene, and emotion had started to be viewed as an individual or group construct that is an important organizational topic (Fineman, 1999, 290). Emotion’s permeation of the field went unnoticed for a while because it was “camouflaged by different terminologies,” such as sentiment or morale (Fineman, 1999, 290).

            A close look at the literature on emotions in the workplace reveals that most works or studies related to the effects of emotions on top level or senior executives, rather than those belonging to the rank and file (Carmeli, 2003; Mandell & Pherwani, 2003). Moreover, most works were concerned about the positive effects of certain emotions in the performance of these executives (Carmeli, 2003), such as leadership success (Mandell & Pherwani, 2003).

            In the literature of emotional intelligence in the workplace, certain attributes stand out as the key character traits possessed by successful individuals (Fineman, 1999; Carmeli, 2003). For example, one construct was developed by Martin Seligman, which he called “learned optimism” (Cherniss, 2000). Learned optimism refers to “the causal attributions people make when confronted with failure or setbacks” (Cherniss, 2000). Applying his hypothesis to a group of new insurance salespersons, Seligman found out that salespersons that are optimists sell 37 percent more insurance than pessimists (Cherniss, 2000).

            Another attribute that is popular in the literature on emotional  intelligence in the workplace is empathy, which is believed to have positive correlation with occupational success (Cherniss, 2000). For instance, a study that looked at the relationship of empathy with sales performance of apparel sales representatives concluded that buyers value sales representatives who listen well and understands their precise needs (Cherniss, 2000).

            Motivation and commitment are also important emotional qualities that could affect the performance of salespersons. Motivation and commitment would play vital roles in preventing one of the biggest stumbling blocks of employees towards professional success, which is burnout (Chiu & Tsai, 2006).

            Burnout has been defined as “a severe psychological and physical syndrome that occurs in response to prolonged stress at work” (Chiu & Tsai, 2006). It results from the inability of employees to cope with the demands of work (Chiu & Tsai, 2006). Burnout has deleterious effects, not only to the individual, but also to the organization to which he belongs, because burnout causes reduced task performance (Chiu & Tsai, 2006) and consequently, reduced output.

            The construct of emotional intelligence is closely related with this concept of burnout because Goleman’s construct is designed precisely to address such issues as lack of motivation and inability to cope with stress (Goleman, 1998).

            Other studies that have endeavored to link emotional intelligence with leadership success of individuals in an organizational setting (Mandell & Pherwani, 2003) should also be noted. Mandell & Pherwani conducted a hierarchical regression analysis on 32 males and female managers or supervisors employed in medium sized organizations in the United States, in order to determine whether there is a predictive relationship between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership style, and whether there are gender differences in such relationship (2003).

            Mandell & Pherwani were able to observe a significant relationship between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership style (2003). They concluded that leaders must possess highly developed social and emotional skills, in addition to effective managerial skills (Mandell & Pherwani, 2003). This conclusion is in line with Goleman’s opinion that  “leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence articulate and arouse enthusiasm for a shared vision” (Mandell & Pherwani, 2003).

            The treatment of emotional intelligence in the workplace also includes the development of a construct called “emotional labor” (Meier, Mastracci, & Wilson, 2006). Emotional labor is defined as “the projection of feelings and emotions needed to gain the cooperation of clients or coworkers, the ability to see another’s side of the issue and integrate that perspective into what the organization does” (Meier, Mastracci, & Wilson, 2006). Literature on emotional labor attempts to show the correlation between the projection of emotions and better work environment, which in turn positively affects commitment to an organization and its objectives (Meier, Mastracci, & Wilson, 2006).

            Studies regarding emotional labor are somewhat gender specific, despite Goleman’s claim that this should not be so (Goleman, 1998). A majority of the findings shows that women are expected to provide more emotional labor and are in fact known to so provide, when compared with men (Meier, Mastracci, & Wilson, 2006).

            These studies regarding specific emotional intelligence competencies (Cherniss, 2000) and the specific areas where the construct of emotional intelligence is known to have positive effects (Mandell & Pherwani, 2003; Meier, Mastracci, & Wilson, 2006), illustrate how the construct of emotional intelligence has developed from its humble beginnings (Kunnanatt, 2004).

Sales Success

            There are some studies that relate to the relationship of emotional intelligence with corporate performance, especially in sales (Wilson, et al., 2002). These studies looked into the correlation between a sales agent’s maintaining certain positive characteristics and their sales performance. Some of these studies even made recommendations regarding corporate training of sales agents, based on traits that are associated with emotional intelligence. One such study was conducted by Phillip Wilson, David Strutton, and M. Theodore Farris II (2002).

            The study did not focus on emotional intelligence; rather, it centered on the perceptual aspect of sales training as a popular avenue for enhancing the performance of salespersons (Wilson, et al., 2002). Wilson, et al. were concerned that little formal investigation were made regarding training from the viewpoint of salespersons themselves. Thus, they investigated the relationship of training attitudes of salespersons and their performance (Wilson, et al., 2002).

            Wilson, et al. studied sales training because they realized that it has become a prevalent tool among corporations to increase sales, such that it was common for companies to spend billions of dollars on sales training (Wilson, et al., 2002). While there are some who believe otherwise and view sales training in a negative light, many corporations followed the trend of flattening their organizational hierarchies (Wilson, et al., 2002).  These corporations deemed it wise to invest in other aspects of the business, rather than on keeping a long list of salespersons on the payroll. Thus, these corporations are placing a rather big gamble on the ability of their salespersons to accomplish more complex tasks and employ good strategies in order to deliver what the companies need, such as sales training on product knowledge and interpersonal skills. Therefore, salespersons need training that would adequately prepare them for this revised role (Wilson, et al., 2002).

            Wilson, et al. defined sales training as “a deliberate and formalized accumulation of information, concepts, and skills that are intended to foster competence or enhance the performance of salespeople” (Wilson, et al., 2002).

            Sales training is relevant to the study of the relationship of emotional intelligence with sales performance because most sales training involve the objective of inducing certain behavioral changes in a salesperson, which would improve job performance (Wilson, et al., 2002). These behavioral changes include having the ability to demonstrate a product to the client, enact new knowledge, and transfer such knowledge to the client. They may also include the ability to implement a new selling philosophy (Wilson, et al., 2002).

            In this study, Wilson, et al., utilized three types of factors in specifying the transfer and outcome processes involved. These are the determinants of salespeople’s training perceptions, and the dimensions and outcomes of such training perceptions (Wilson, et al., 2002). The first type includes the job-related individual traits of salespersons; the second involves the sensitivity of salespersons to certain aspects of a training program; and the third involves the extent of transfer and actual performance of salespersons (Wilson, et al., 2002).

            Wilson, et al. worked on two models in testing their hypotheses. The first one is the Behavior-Driven Model, which hypothesizes that “transfer is driven by traits endemic to the trainee.” (Wilson, et al., 2002). This means that the belief of a trainee regarding his self-efficacy and learning orientation influences transfer of training, which in turn positively affects sales performance. The other model is called the Attitude-Driven Model, which holds that certain traits of salespeople influence their attitudes, and such attitudes in training have a positive relationship with sales performance (Wilson, et al., 2002).

            Wilson, et al. came up with their conclusion after gathering field data from salespeople and sales managers. They mailed a self-administered questionnaire to 1, 200 sales people and 100 sales managers. Their total returned surveys amounted to 512, which served as their raw data (Wilson, et al., 2002).

            Wilson, et al. claim that applying the Attitude-Driven Model, they found no relationship between performance and two endogenous attitudes, namely, selling skills and product knowledge (2002). However, they found that selling skills and product knowledge “positively influenced salespeople’s task specific self-efficacy for selling” (Wilson, et al., 2002). Wilson, et al. hypothesized that a salesperson’s sense of confidence influences his perception of his sales training, which is also reflected in his sales. (Wilson, et al., 2002).

            The study also found positive conclusion based on the Behavior-Driven Model. The authors’ findings show that salespeople with good learning orientation and those who believe in their self-efficacy strive to learn new skills in selling and to gain more product knowledge, which they could use in the field. Thus, these people get better at product presentation in the field, making them more successful as salespeople (Wilson, et al., 2002).

            This conclusion is relevant to this study, because it reinforces the theory that emotional intelligence can get a salesperson farther in his career than academic or cognitive intelligence. As shown by the findings of Wilson, et al., product knowledge alone is not sufficient to give a salesperson a tough edge in the field (2002). The acquisition or possession of certain skills also plays a big role in determining the success or failure of a salesperson. Moreover, emotional intelligence also influences a salesperson’s receptiveness to training, which is a recognized technique in improving efficacy at work (Wilson, et al., 2002). An emotionally intelligent person is one who has motivation, and it is such motivation that would spell the difference among the competitive players in the sales industry (Wilson, et al., 2002; Goleman, 1995).

Selling skills

            Emotional intelligence can also be related to sales performance through the study of a salesperson’s selling skills, which are mainly composed of constructs relevant in the concept of emotional intelligence, such as motivation and interpersonal skills. There are some researches in the field of sales management that focus on selling skills, and one of them is the study conducted by Rentz, Shepherd, Tashchian, Dabholkar, & Ladd (2002).

            The said study worked on the premise that selling skills are one of the best predictors of sales performance (Rentz, et al., 2002). However, the authors believe that there is inadequate treatment of this topic, particularly in terms of the ways by which these skills can be measured in order to determine who among many salespeople are the best in their field. Hence, they endeavored to formulate a model that would assess the sales skills of salespersons. This model would consist of three components of interpersonal skills, salesmanship skills, and technical skills (Rentz, et al., 2002).

            It would be noted that from the outset, the role of emotional intelligence in their study is very apparent. The authors had, from the beginning, referred to skills as a key component that is responsible for good sales performance. Rentz, et al., defined selling skills as “learned proficiency at performing tasks necessary for a sales job” (Rentz, et al., 2002). By its very nature, skill does not fall under the category of cognitive intelligence, because skill relates to the attitudes and techniques that a person learns from his experiences.

            Rentz, et al., was careful to note, however, that they believe that sales performance is only a consequence of many variables, such as motivation, management support, and role clarity (Rentz, et al., 2002). This means that skill is only one of the variables that could affect performance (Rentz, et al., 2002).

            Rentz, et al. listed down 19 items that would respectively fall under one of the three different dimensions of selling skills. The team first conducted a pre-test survey and interview on 12 food broker salespeople. Comments and suggestions gathered in the pre-test survey and interview were incorporated into the final survey instrument (Rentz, et al., 2002).

            The final questionnaires were distributed to 146 salespeople, 106 of whom answered. Rentz, et al. kept the food broker company as the independent variable, while the proposed three components of the selling skill constructs served as the dependent variables (Rentz, et al., 2002).

            Rentz, et al. assessed the nomological validity of the components of the selling skill measure they proposed.  According to them, nomological validity “represents how scores on one instrument relate to scores on other constructs or behaviors” (Rentz, et al., 2002). Thus, they related the scores on each dimension of interpersonal skills, salesmanship skills, and technical knowledge to several self-reported behaviors (Rentz, et al., 2002).

            Their findings went in their expected direction. They found that mathematical and verbal abilities have satisfactory correlation with the development of relationship in selling (Rentz, et al., 2002). This finding is more significant to the theory that gives primacy to cognitive intelligence rather than emotional intelligence.

            Nevertheless, Rentz, et al. concluded that the manner of interaction by a salesperson towards others has positive relationship with interpersonal, salesmanship, and technical skills (Rentz, et al., 2002). This bolsters the conclusions of several writers, such as Dawson, Soper, and Pettijohn, McBane, and Ramsey and Sohi, that there is a positive correlation between selling skills and noncognitive aptitude items (Rentz, et al., 2002).

Criticisms of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

            While emotional intelligence has been getting attention from researchers lately, there are some who are resisting this trend and criticizing the theory that emotional intelligence plays a great role in organizational success (Ashkanasy & Daus, 2005).

            Ashkanasy & Daus identifies three different criticisms to the theory, which are put forward by Landy, Locke, and Conte (2005). Landy’s critique states that  emotional intelligence has been largely developed by purveyors of commercial tests, such that critical scientific data are not available. Landy claims that the proponents of the construct base their studies on anecdotal evidence, which are cannot be verified by scientific scrutiny (Ashkanasy & Daus, 2005).

            Ashkanasy & Daus refute this criticism, first, by conceding that the proponents of the construct of emotional intelligence do use anecdotal evidence as basis. However, such fact should not support the proposition that the study of emotional intelligence as a form of social intelligence should be abandoned altogether (Ashkanasy & Daus, 2005). They acknowledge that there is much to be done, particularly in research, in order to form a more concrete construct of the theory, and this is precisely the reason why studies on the area should not be abandoned. However, Ashkanasy & Daus realize the importance of the suggestions made by Landy for future research (2005).

            The second criticism to the construct of emotional intelligence is that propounded by Locke. For him, emotional intelligence is an oxymoron, because one cannot reason with emotion (Ashkanasy & Daus, 2005). Secondly, Locke believes that the construct is being put forward by leftists who are motivated by a specific political agenda (Ashkanasy & Daus, 2005).

            Ashkanasy & Daus contradicted this criticism by claiming that there are studies that manifest how individuals’ reasoning is actually influenced by emotion (Ashkanasy & Daus, 2005). They cited the 1994 book entitled Descartes’ Error, written by Damasio, which illustrated how feelings shape cognitive thought processes (Ashkanasy & Daus, 2005).

            Finally, the third criticism comes from Conte, who argues that the measures of emotional intelligence “fail to deliver sufficient incremental predictive power over traditional measures of personally, attitude, and behavior” (Ashkanasy & Daus, 2005). His criticism was therefore a pragmatic take on the matter – he is concerned about the lack of accurate means by which the effect of emotional intelligence on an organization can be measured (Ashkanasy & Daus, 2005).

            Ashkanasy & Daus do not quarrel with Conte’s position (2005). They merely view it as a more pessimistic perception of the construct called emotional intelligence, which could actually be helpful because it provides for pieces of advice concerning future research (Ashkanasy & Daus, 2005).


            A review of the literature on emotional intelligence as a psychological construct and emotional intelligence in organizational studies shows that emotional intelligence has gained ground in terms of research and acknowledgment, despite its late introduction as a field of study.

            The construct of emotional intelligence as developed by Goleman (1995) has received warm welcome from scholars of psychology and organizational studies alike, such that there are already abundant resources for anyone who wants to study the correlations between emotional intelligence and organizational success (Ashkanasy, & Daus, 2005; Carmeli, 2003; Manna, & Smith, 2004; Wilson, Strutton, & Farris II, 2002).

            Despite such growing number of studies, there is still a significant silence on the question of whether there is a significant relationship between emotional intelligence and success of salespersons. This dissertation therefore intends to fill that void, in order to provide information and guidance to further research on the topic.


Ashkanasy, N. M. & Daus, C. S. (2005). Rumors of the death of emotional intelligence in          organizational behavior are vastly exaggerated. Journal of Organizational Behavior,       26, 441-452.

Carmeli, A. (2003). The Relationship between Emotional intelligence and Work Attitudes,        Behavior and Outcomes An Examination among Senior Managers. Journal of    Managerial Psychology, 18(8), 788-813.

Cherniss, C. (2000). Emotional Intelligence: What it is and Why it Matters. Consortium for       Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations.

Chiu, S. & Tsai, M. (2006). Relationships Among Burnout, Job Involvement, and           Organizational Citizenship. The Journal of Psychology,140(6), 517-530.

Fineman, S. (1999). Emotion and Organizing. In: S. R. Clegg & C. Hardy (Eds.), Studying         Organization: Theory & Method (pp. 289-304). London: SAGE Publications.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.

Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.

Kunnanatt, J. T. (2004). Emotional Intelligence: The New Science of Interpersonal         Effectiveness. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 15(4), 489-495.

Landy, F. J. (2005). Some Historical and Scientific Issues Related to Research on Emotional     Intelligence. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26, 411-424.

Manna, D. R. & Smith, A. D. (2004). Exploring the need for emotional intelligence and awareness among sales representatives. Marketing Intelligence & Planning, 22 (1), 66-83.

Mandell, B. & Pherwani, S. (2003). Relationship between Emotional Intelligence and    Transformational Leadership Style: A Gender Comparison. Journal of Business and            Psychology, 17(3).

McCoy, B. H. (1997). Emotional intelligence provides key to life success. Real Estate Issues,    22, iii.

Meier, K. J., Mastracci, S. H., & Wilson, K. (2006). Gender and Emotional Labor in Public       Organizations: An Empirical Examination. Public Administration Review, 66(6), 899-     910.

Rentz, J. O., Shepherd, C. D., Tashchian, A., Dabholkar, P. A. , & Ladd, R. T. (2002). A            Measure of Selling Skill:  Scale Development and Validation. The Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 22(1), 13-21.

Rose, S. (2005). Emotio Ergo Sum. The Lancet, 9460, 647-648.

Wilson, P. H., Strutton, D., & Farris II, M. T. (2002). Investigating the Perceptual Aspect of      Sales Training. The Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 22(2), 77-86.

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