Dr. Betty Farmer, professor of communication and organizational consultant, presents The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Crisis Communication at the International Crisis and Risk Communication Conference on March 11, in Orlando, Florida.

With more than 30 years of experience at Western Carolina University, Farmer has won numerous awards and has made hundreds of presentations at national/international conferences and for organizations across the state.

Farmer believes emotional intelligence is one of the most important skills that a leader should build in order to manage crises effectively.

“Research suggests that the most effective leaders are high in emotional intelligence,” said Farmer. “How a leader communicates during a crisis will significantly impact how the organization navigates a crisis. Among other things, leaders need to be able to manage their own emotions and to empathize with a variety of stakeholders during crises.”

Farmer’s presentation is inspired by Daniel Goleman’s four-quadrant conceptualization of emotional intelligence. This model includes self-awareness, self-management, awareness of others’ emotions and relationship management.

“Emotional intelligence is positively associated with a variety of important individual and organizational outcomes, such as job performance, better decision-making, stress management and resilience,” said Farmer.

By applying this model during planning or responding to crises, leaders “can improve their ability to effectively manage a crisis,” Farmer said.

As a consultant, trainer and coach Farmer translates academic knowledge to help build North Carolina’s workforce. She has been working with regional businesses since 2016 and with the North Carolina Department of Public Health since 2022. In addition to crisis communications and emotional intelligence, she has provided numerous leadership, managerial and communication workshops.

Farmer hopes that as a result of her scholarship, leaders and organizations will recognize the need to “include emotional intelligence training as part of their crisis leadership training and coaching.”

Farmer’s work also benefits WCU students and the WCU communication department. Farmer brings these experiences back to the classroom as examples to illustrate specific concepts about emotional intelligence and crisis response, as well as other managerial and leadership concepts.

Moreover, her work also helps the Department of Communication and University fulfill its mission as a regionally engaged institution committed to leadership and workforce development in our state.

Farmer will continue to devote her time and energy to connect academic disciplines such as crisis communications and emotional intelligence to help both professionals in the field and students in the classroom be successful.

Farmer is available to share more details about the importance of emotional intelligence in crisis communications. She can be reached at bfarmer@wcu.edu.