In such a competitive and rapidly changing society, we must understand what emotional intelligence (EI/EQ = “emotional quotient”) is and its implications in the workplace.
By nature, humans are emotional creatures. But only emotional intelligence makes it possible to recognize, understand, manage, and reason with emotions. And it does not apply only to our own emotions, but also that of others. It is an essential ability when it comes to interpersonal communication.
Dale Carnegie once said: “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”
Emotional Intelligence in The Workplace
Considering the pillars of emotional intelligence and how valuable those are in a professional, it is easy to understand why emotionally intelligent people are more likely to succeed at work.
Those pillars are:
- Self-awareness. Self-awareness is the ability to understand and focus on your strengths and weaknesses. And how your actions, thoughts, or emotions align with your standards. Self-aware individuals can objectively evaluate themselves, manage their emotions, evaluate their behavior, and understand how others perceive them. This pillar is helpful when receiving feedback.
- Self-regulation. In a basic sense, self-regulation refers to the ability to manage disruptive emotions and impulses. High self-regulated individuals can express themselves openly and tactfully, making emotional outbursts less likely.
- Self-motivation. Emotionally intelligent individuals are driven by self-motivation, needing little extrinsic motivation. Self-motivation refers to a personal drive to improve and accomplish great things solely for obtaining personal fulfillment.
- Empathy. Emotionally intelligent people can see things from someone else’s point of view. Such individuals can understand how another person feels and experiences the world. Since people who show honest empathy communicate and lead by understanding others’ thoughts, views, and feelings, they are more likely to be followed by others.
- People or Social Skills. Having a high sense of people or social skills allows individuals to foster meaningful connections with others. This pillar is crucial when creating relationships with friends, coworkers, and employees.
Why Emotional Intelligence in The Workplace Matters
Emotional intelligence is valued in the workplace. According to several surveys, about 75% of hiring managers suggested they pay more attention to an employee’s EQ more than their IQ. Professionals agree that emotional intelligence enhances communication, management, problem-solving, and relationships within the workplace.
In the workplace, one can observe different characteristics between individuals with high and low emotional intelligence.
People with high Emotional Intelligence
- Decision making and solving problems oriented.
- Better at handling pressure.
- Resolve conflicts.
- Show greater and honest empathy.
- Listen, reflect, and respond to constructive criticism.
People with low Emotional Intelligence
- Avoid taking responsibility for errors.
- Show passive or aggressive communication styles
- Not team-oriented
- Overly critical of others or dismiss others’ opinions
Considering those characteristics, where decisions are primarily made based on interpersonal understanding, teamwork, and communications, emotional intelligence is critical.
Becoming More Emotional Intelligent
While emotional skills come more naturally to some individuals, researchers believe that they can improve with training and practice.
A study in 2011 showed that participants trained in emotional competencies had lasting improvements in emotional intelligence. Moreover, such participants also had improved physical and mental well-being, as well as social relations.
As mentioned before, there are five pillars of emotional intelligence. Working on those pillars would improve someone’s EQ.
The first step in improving self-awareness is becoming more self-aware. Learn to recognize and understand your emotions and what causes them. Pay close attention to how you feel and be aware of the impact your feelings and emotions have on your daily life. Try to recognize your weaknesses and identify the best ways to deal with them. Lastly, remember that emotions are temporary and should not affect your long-term goals.
After being able to identify your emotions, you need to learn how to manage them. Instead of reacting, learn to recognize appropriate ways to express your feelings and emotions. Keep in mind that your emotional expressions have an impact on others. Find and develop ways to release stress, such as hobbies outside of work or engaging in physical activities. Think things through before making decisions. And remember that there will always be things out of your control.
While money, status, and praises are great, the most successful people in the workplace are usually motivated by something else. They find means to motivate themselves without needing extrinsic motivators. Self-motivated individuals do things because they find them fulfilling and they are passionate about them. Identify the aspects of your job that you love and focus on them. Keep a positive and optimistic attitude at work. And recognize the tasks or challenges that satisfy you regardless of any rewards.
Become More Empathic
Learn to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand how they feel and to choose how you respond to those emotions. While it can be difficult at times, try to see things from the other person’s perspective. Acknowledging how others feel and letting them know their efforts have merit help people feel more willing to compromise. Empathy also helps you understand unspoken language between others.
Improve Social Skills
Social skills lead to more positive company culture and better communication. Several actions would help you improve your social skills. Practice active listening to others by showing attention, asking questions, and providing feedback. Pay attention to nonverbal communication such as body language. In addition, try to always look for ways to solve problems while minimizing tensions.
Setting Examples of Emotional Intelligence at Work
From a manager’s perspective, there are several ways to promote emotional intelligence in the workplace.
As opposed to what previous generations believed, people cannot turn off their emotions when they go to work. And while employees do not necessarily need their bosses to be their best friends, they seek a relationship of respect and trust.
Employers who use emotional intelligence at work will notice that their employees perform better and are more loyal. While emotional intelligence is not everything, you should try to hire and promote employees who show signs of emotional intelligence. A good idea might be to consider this rule-of-thumb:
Skills + Work Ethic + Emotional Intelligence = Successful Professional.
As we mentioned before, emotional intelligence improves by practice. Cultivate an environment where employees and managers can practice emotional intelligence. Show genuine interest in their well-being, both physical and mental. And remember to create a working space focused on the people and not the other way around.