In the cleaning industry we can find several instances where emotional intelligence can make or break a moment.

Emotional intelligence is a growing phenomenon in today’s culture. It has the power to bring relationships closer, repair broken alliances, clarify conflicts, and create more self-awareness. As we work with clients, coworkers, and interact with our friends and families there are multiple opportunities to utilize emotional intelligence to make everyone’s experience more fulfilling.

Emotional intelligence is the capacity to feel, manage, and express your own emotions as well as sensing the emotions of others while relating with them in useful, empathic, and constructive ways. In the cleaning industry we can find several instances where emotional intelligence can make or break a moment – leading to success with, or the loss of, clients as well as the creation of happy or unhappy cleaners and managers.

Factors that can impede your ability to access emotional intelligence:

  • How stressed you are in a given moment
  • How well you assert yourself
  • Limited emotional vocabulary
  • Making assumptions
  • Becoming defensive
  • Holding grudges
  • Not letting go of mistakes
  • Feeling misunderstood
  • Not knowing what triggers you
  • Not allowing yourself to get angry or feel other emotions
  • Blaming others for how you feel
  • Being easily offended

Ways to develop emotional intelligence:

  • Get curious about life, yourself, and other people
  • Embrace change
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses
  • Develop your social awareness and your ability to read how people are feeling
  • Be able to laugh about yourself
  • Know how to say no to yourself and others
  • Develop your ability to be assertive and have self-control
  • Practice naming the feeling you are feeling out loud while alone and with those close to you
  • Learn to name the need that is driving the feeling you are having (eg: I feel ____ because I need to feel safe, heard, seen, cared for, respected, that this situation is fair, etc.)
  • Acknowledge mistakes you and others make, explore what can be learned from the mistake, make steps to implement that change, and then move on
  • Let go of grudges. This usually occurs when we can learn from the mistake of the situation
  • Give without unreasonable expectations in return
  • Be willing to consider the other person’s point of view—usually more and for longer than you think you need to—in order to really understand what they are saying
  • Appreciate what you have and who you are
  • Be willing to feel and hold feelings that are uncomfortable in order to discover what is really needing to be attended to
  • Take a break from a stressful situation to get a new perspective on it
  • Take care of yourself—limit caffeine, get good rest, eat well, nurture positive relationships
  • Develop your capacity for feeling and expressing joy
  • Explore and limit your negative self-talk, replace it with self-compassion, curiosity, and kindness

Utilize emotional intelligence to help resolve the situation: 

  1. First, listen to their complaint. Attempt to assess what need was not met in the interaction.
  2. Bring as much curiosity and openness to the conversation as possible.
  3. Acknowledge what the person has said by reflecting back what you heard to make sure you are accurately listening to their concern, hurt, or frustration.
  4. Consider the person’s perspective and do your best to empathize how it was for them from their perspective.
  5. Respond to them with kindness and care, sharing your genuine desire to make the situation resolved.
  6. Offer to repair the situation with an appropriate apology, action, or amends. Offer a solution that you think may help address their original need, help them regain trust that you do care, are competent, etc. or ask them how they would like it resolved.
  7. Look at your internal emotional landscape. See what if anything has been triggered and tend to that within yourself. Was there a need that you have in this situation? How might it be tended to?
  8. If appropriate, name your need and ask for an appropriate response or action from them to help address your upset.

It is not about always being nice, but rather knowing how best to listen to their experience and how to best communicate your experience that brings about the best possible outcome.

Working with an upset client: 

  1. Ask them to clarify what they are upset about, listening for the unmet need
  2. Apologize if there was something that you did that was the cause for that need not being met
  3. Offer to make the situation better by addressing the need (coming earlier next time, doing the uncleaned area now, replacing the broken item, etc.)
  4. Mention anything you need in the situation such as clearer communication on a particular situation (like getting clearer instructions on what to clean each time if they are always changing their minds about what to do).
  5. If a charge of upset or hurt still persists after the interaction, look inside to see what might be triggered from the interaction. Is there anything else that needs to be heard from within you? Do your best to listen to that upset or hurt and tend to it.
  6. If need be, reach out to your manager, partner, or a trusted friend to listen to what the upset is about. You can request them to listen to you about this charged situation to help you discover what needs were not met for you so you can address them now.

Try some of these ideas out for the next few months and let me know how they work for you. Developing more emotional intelligence will help with resolution in interpersonal issues and bring more self-awareness, peace, and success into your life.

Eric Grace is the owner of Graceworks Housecleaning services based in Medford, Oregon. Eric also mentors individuals and business owners on emotional and spiritual intelligence for their personal lives and business development. For more information, go to or you can reach Eric at