Written by Marijn Overvest | Reviewed by Sjoerd Goedhart | Fact Checked by Ruud Emonds | Our editorial policy

Emotional Intelligence in Procurement — What You Should Know?

Key takeaways
  • Emotional intelligence involves being self-aware, motivated, and empathic among others.
  • A mindful focus will help you make smarter decisions in a procurement negotiation.
  • Staying calm in a negotiation puts you in a better position to make an offer.

Emotional intelligence in procurement is becoming more important as society continues to progress. However, according to Travis Bradberry, the author of “Emotional Intelligence 2.0,” suggests that only about 36% of the population in the world is emotionally intelligent.

Nonetheless, we can still argue that emotional intelligence can be developed. In this article, we’ll explore what emotional intelligence is and why it is important in procurement.

Additionally, we’ll examine how SWOT Analysis can assist in evaluating emotional intelligence. We’ll dive into the 5 techniques for managing emotions and provide a template for enhancing emotional intelligence. 

Furthermore, we’ll show you an example of emotional intelligence to motivate you in your journey to improve your emotions when it comes to dealing with your suppliers. 

After reading this article, you will know how to assess yourself and what you can do to improve your emotional intelligence in procurement. 

Before scrolling down, I have created a free-to-download editable margin calculation template. It’s a PowerPoint significantly improve your emotional intelligence (EQ) and its impact on your business efforts. I even created a video where I’ll explain how you can use this template.

What is Emotional Intelligence and Its Importance in Procurement?

Emotional intelligence, also called emotional quotient, describes a person’s capacity to effectively handle and comprehend their own emotions as well as those of others. Having a high emotional intelligence helps make connections, address problems, and create a better working environment.

For example, during negotiations, emotional intelligence can help you understand the situation and change how you deal with things. Thus, making it more possible for you to get good results while maintaining good relationships with your suppliers.

Professionals who have high emotional intelligence in procurement are good at listening and understanding different points of view.  It also allows you to remain calm in tough negotiations and make more smart decisions when things turn out to be at your disadvantage. 

Furthermore, having high emotional intelligence makes people trust and respect you more, making colleagues, suppliers, and your team want to work with you. This makes you look good professionally and encourages others to work together efficiently. 

Core Components of Emotional Intelligence

Now that you know the importance of emotional intelligence, let’s break it into its core components:

1. Self-awareness

Self-awareness is about knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Procurement is about understanding your biases, how you react when you get into heated arguments, and what triggers your emotions in negotiations. 

For example, knowing that you tend to become defensive when being questioned a lot by your suppliers can help you approach negotiations more effectively. 

2. Self-regulation

Self-regulation refers to how you can control your emotions well. In procurement, this skill might manifest as staying calm and composed when facing deadlines or encountering tough negotiations with your suppliers. 

For instance, maintaining a good and positive attitude while discussing contract terms with your suppliers can help prevent any misunderstandings and build smoother negotiations. 

3. Motivation

Motivation is vital in setting and pursuing goals both personally and professionally. In procurement, staying motivated is important when dealing with complex problems or unexpected obstacles. It becomes the driving force for you to push yourself to your limits. 

For example, setting a goal to streamline your procurement process despite facing budget cuts can help maintain focus and drive progress. 

4. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to know and share the feelings of others. It translates to being genuinely interested in listening to the concerns of your suppliers to maintain and foster relationships. 

For example, empathizing with your supplier’s problem regarding product delivery delays can lead to collaborative problem-solving rather than heated discussions.

5. Social skills

social skills encompass effective communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution. In procurement, strong social skills can help navigate tricky negotiations, build trust, and promote collaboration. 

For example, adeptly communicating with suppliers to address concerns and find mutually beneficial solutions can strengthen partnerships and enhance procurement outcomes.

You may wonder why we’ve delved into these components. The reason is simple: by improving these aspects of your emotional intelligence, you become not only a more skilled negotiator but also a more adept communicator and a reliable leader in your procurement position. 

This enhancement enables you to make wiser choices, cultivate stronger bonds with suppliers, and, in the end, improve your own achievements.

SWOT Analysis for Emotional Intelligence

Now that we’ve discussed the components of emotional intelligence in procurement, let’s dive right into our very own practical self-assessment method that can help develop your emotional intelligence in procurement. For this self-assessment, we will be utilizing a SWOT analysis. 


For this self-assessment, take a moment to reflect on your skills and experiences. What are your strengths? What aspects of procurement do you excel in? Take some time to jot these down.

After you write down your strengths, it’s time for you to know your weaknesses. Is it time management, clear communication, or handling stress? Be honest. 

Next, think about the opportunities or ways that you can improve. Are there courses or certifications that could help? Write them down. 

Finally, consider the threats that could affect your procurement job, like market changes or more competition. Now, you’ve got your SWOT analysis. Think about how you can use it to further develop not just your emotional intelligence in procurement but also your career.

5 Techniques For Self Regulation

For procurement professionals, self-regulation is important as they constantly encounter significant stress in their line of work. It’s crucial not to let emotions disrupt relationships with suppliers. Hence, we’ll discuss five techniques to enhance your self-regulation:

1. Mindful Procurement Focus

Embracing mindfulness practices can help maintain your focus in high-pressure situations. This will help you make better decisions and reduce stress when negotiating with your suppliers. 

For example, when negotiating with suppliers under tight deadlines, staying mindful can prevent rash decisions and foster clearer communication.

2. Calm Negotiation Breaths

In your daily routine, try to incorporate deep breathing exercises to stay calm and composed, especially during challenging negotiations or tight deadlines. A few deep breaths can have a significant calming effect on you.

3. Time Management Mastery

Try to utilize effective time management techniques to prioritize tasks and manage resources efficiently, reducing stress and ensuring you meet your procurement objectives.

For instance, creating a detailed schedule for supplier meetings ensures adequate preparation time, enhancing productivity and minimizing last-minute stress.

4. Stress Relief Techniques

Another tip is to try to implement relaxation techniques to promote a sense of calmness during demanding procurement situations. These practices can help you stay grounded and focused.

For example, before engaging in price negotiations with a supplier, taking a moment to visualize a positive outcome can help alleviate anxiety and promote a sense of calmness, leading to more productive discussions.

5. Assertive Workload Balance

Lastly, try to establish clear boundaries and practice assertiveness to effectively manage your workload and interactions. 

For instance, communicate your availability to suppliers to prevent excessive demands. By doing so, you can minimize stress and promote a healthier work-life balance for yourself.  

Emotional Quotient Goals Template

Now that we’ve given you some self-regulation tips, let’s introduce our template to help boost your emotional intelligence. It’s divided into four sections.


1. Goal

In this section, you’ll outline your goal related to emotional intelligence (EQ). What area of your emotional intelligence do you want to improve? This could involve enhancing self-awareness, empathy, or communication skills. 

2. Action

Here, you will write down the specific actions you’ll take to progress toward your goal. These actions should be practical and feasible.  your steps might include practicing active listening, seeking feedback from colleagues, and reading literature on empathy.

3. Timeline

This is where you’ll set timeframes for each action step. Determine when you’ll start and finish each task, taking into account your schedule realistically. 

4. Measure of Success

Lastly, in this section, you need to define how you’ll gauge your advancement. What indicators will demonstrate that you’re making headway toward your goal? 

Real-Life Example of Emotional Intelligence in Procurement

When we are talking about emotional intelligence in action, let’s consider what happened with Southwest Airlines. 

Back in the early 2000s, the company faced financial challenges due to industry-wide layoffs. CEO Herb Kelleher demonstrated remarkable emotional intelligence by avoiding layoffs and instead engaging with employees and unions.

He stressed the idea of everyone sharing the burden. Kelleher even took a 10% pay cut himself.  This approach garnered support from unions for cost-saving measures, preserving numerous jobs and fostering unity within the company.

Southwest’s culture of empathy not only helped them navigate the crisis but also distinguished them in the industry, highlighting the significant impact of emotional intelligence in business.


In conclusion, emotional intelligence plays a vital role in procurement, influencing interactions with suppliers, negotiation outcomes, and overall success in the field.

Although not all people possess natural emotional intelligence, it’s a skill that can be developed and enhanced over time. 

In this article, we have delved into the core competencies of emotional intelligence in procurement that will enhance your skills and become more effective in communicating better deals. 

Additionally, we outlined the techniques for self-regulation to help you manage your emotions whenever you enter into a negotiation or are in a situation where a heated argument might arise. 

We shared with you a self-assessment tool and a template that will help you develop a high level of emotional intelligence in procurement. 

Furthermore, emotional intelligence in procurement helps professionals like you to bridge misunderstandings and cultivate collaborative partnerships, paving the way for enhanced outcomes and sustained success in the field.

Frequentlyasked questions

What is emotional intelligence in procurement?

Emotional intelligence in procurement refers to the ability to understand and manage emotions effectively in procurement-related activities, including interactions with suppliers, negotiation processes, and decision-making.

Why is emotional intelligence important in procurement?

It is important as it helps professionals build stronger relationships with suppliers, navigate negotiations effectively, and make informed decisions, ultimately leading to better outcomes and success in the field.

Is emotional intelligence something you're born with or can you learn it?

Some people might be naturally good at it, but anyone can learn emotional intelligence. It just takes practice, understanding yourself, and learning how to handle emotions better.

About the author

My name is Marijn Overvest, I’m the founder of Procurement Tactics. I have a deep passion for procurement, and I’ve upskilled over 200 procurement teams from all over the world. When I’m not working, I love running and cycling.

Marijn Overvest Procurement Tactics