Understanding EQ so you can better serve your couples
We don’t really need to say this because you already know it’s true—planning a wedding is one of the most emotional times in a couple’s life. From needing to have real conversations about money, navigating the opinions of their family and close friends and literally building a list that prioritizes the people they know, couples are experiencing a lot. And it can impact your work. So today, we wanted to dive deep into emotional intelligence: what it is, how it can help and real examples for you to learn from. Read on to better equip yourself with what you need to handle emotionally charged situations without stressing yourself out too.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a measure of your ability to recognize and respond to both your emotions and the emotions of others. According to Psychology Today, it:
Refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence is generally said to include a few skills: namely emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and helping others to do the same.
Put in plain English, you can think of emotional intelligence as your ability to “read the room” and “put yourself in someone else’s shoes.” Because, when you can do both of these things, you are much better equipped to respond in a way that is appropriate and calms a potentially explosive situation.
Real-life wedding planning examples and EQ advice
While we hope you never find yourself in a difficult or emotionally charged situation with one of your couples, we know it comes with the territory of running a wedding business. So we asked WeddingPro Educator, wedding planner and lawyer, Leah Weinberg of Color Pop Events, for some thoughtful advice—because she’s written an entire book about the topic!
Pro-tip: Leah’s book, “The Wedding Roller Coaster,” is a great way to educate yourself about how couples can navigate the stress of wedding planning. You can purchase a copy for yourself here.
Possible Scenario #1: One or both sets of parents really dislike the venue for the wedding
If you’re a pro and you hear from your clients (or maybe even directly from the parents themselves) that the parents aren’t happy with the venue their child has chosen for the wedding, it can definitely create some uncomfortable tension.
Step one is to take a step back and consider the emotions behind this concern. Parents are also experiencing this huge step in their children’s lives, but other than them possibly contributing to their events monetarily, they don’t have much say on what goes on (ideally, that is). So, that lack of control combined with the feeling of “losing their babies”, so to speak, brings up a lot of emotions they may or may not be equipped to deal with. So, it’s important to empathize with parents before we can move forward toward a solution.
Next, depending on what type of vendor you are and whether you have any direct interaction with the parents, reassure the parents (or suggest your clients reassure the parents) that it’s an incredible venue and everything will come to life on the wedding day. Show the parents photos from past weddings so they can visualize what their child’s wedding will look like there. It’s also going to be critical to remind the parents that your clients love this venue and chose it as a reflection of them—their styles, their personalities and their vibe. Make sure they know how happy their child will be having their wedding there, and hopefully you can convince them to come around.
Pro-tip: Your couples’ parents can be as emotionally stressed and involved as them, so it is important to know how to handle them, specifically. Here is our advice about how to work with controlling parents.
Possible Scenario #2: An anxious marrier on the wedding day
From time to time, we may find ourselves with a marrier who gets a bit overwhelmed on their wedding day. Maybe you’re a makeup artist and the marrier is literally crying in your makeup chair. Let’s say you’re a photographer who is completely unable to get any getting ready photos because the marrier can’t calm down. Or perhaps you’re a planner having to figure out how to pull everyone back together.
Anxiety, stress, and overwhelm on a wedding day are no joke, and one of my top tips for managing the situation is to let the marrier get their emotions out. Let them cry. Let them have a moment alone. Let them do whatever they need to do to catch their breath. Because if we start to rush things and essentially make them bury their feelings for the moment, those feelings are just going to resurface later in the day (or worse). If you’re looking for some helpful advice to offer a client in advance of the wedding to help them prepare to manage their anxiety on the day of the wedding, I have a few words of wisdom to offer:
- Make sure they take some time before the wedding day to actually process and appreciate the significance of the day. If they don’t, they might find themselves completely overcome with emotions on the wedding day
- If they know they are uncomfortable being the center of attention, suggest they do some visualizations leading up to the wedding to prepare themselves for the situations in which they might be the most uncomfortable on the day of
- Suggest they don’t party too hard the night before, get a good night’s sleep and eat and hydrate on the wedding day (to make sure all their basic needs are met)
Possible Scenario #3: A parent is upset post-wedding about a perceived error
Here’s a (very true) story of something I experienced as a wedding planner: The Monday after a wedding, I got a heads up from the venue that the groom’s mother called the events person to complain about an issue with their bar that past Saturday. The parents of the groom had paid for the premium bar and at some point during the reception, a friend of the parents went to one of the bars, asked for a cocktail with a particular liquor and was told they didn’t have that liquor—a liquor that was supposed to be in the premium package.
It’s, of course, within her right to be upset if she didn’t get what she paid for. However, after some digging, which included photos of the bar and the alcohol display that the photographer happened to get, the venue figured out that (most likely) the bartenders were moving product between the bars at the moment and told the guest that they could get that liquor at the bar in the other room. A game of telephone later and the groom’s mom is upset because she thinks the liquor was never available.
On the surface, yes, it’s totally normal to be upset when you don’t think you got what you paid for. However, her anger continued even after the venue offered a very plausible explanation. In this situation, it wasn’t just about the brand of liquor. It was about the mom feeling embarrassed because one of her friends had that experience at the wedding.
Regardless of whether parents pay for a wedding, we forget just how important it is for the parents to impress their friends and family at the wedding. And even if it’s not wanting to “impress” them, at the least it’s wanting to show them hospitality. So, when something goes awry with a guest, parents can feel like it’s a personal reflection on them, experience some embarrassment, and lash out as a result of their hurt feelings. If you ever find yourself in a situation where what the issue appears to be on the surface doesn’t totally explain the accompanying behavior, then it’s worth trying to dig a little deeper to find out what’s really going on.
How to improve your emotional intelligence
Even if you don’t feel like you have a high EQ at the moment, the good news is you can certainly work to improve it. And though it will take some time and effort, improving this skill will only help you understand (and potentially deescalate) sticky and stressful situations in the future. Here are a few things to practice.
- Be self-aware and work to understand your own emotions. This allows you to be mindful when interacting with others
- Respond to a situation—don’t react to it. Reactions happen too quickly to have done the type of thinking and evaluation that happens when you have emotional intelligence
- Be an active listener. You will better hear what the other person is saying and be able to address the stress accordingly
- Have empathy and work to recognize the other person’s emotions—even if they are struggling to
Working with couples is more of an art than a science, and we have plenty of resources to help you work with yours successfully! Check out the “Your Couples” category on the WeddingPro blog for more expert advice.
Photo Credit: fizkes / Shutterstock.com