Emotional Intelligence, also sometimes referred to as Emotional Quotient (EQ) is not a foreign concept in recent decades, whether in the workplace or outside of it, because that’s how important it is. Nonetheless, let’s take this opportunity to revisit the basics of the concept.
According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist and proponent of the construct of Emotional Intelligence, who wrote an insightful book by the same name, EQ refers to an individual’s ability to appropriately manage and express their feelings, while also being aware of the surrounding environment and other people’s emotions.
While one can guess how such a trait might be helpful in personal relationships, it becomes exceedingly obvious the significant role it can play in professional settings, where maintaining good interpersonal relationships is key. In fact, Goleman considers Emotional Intelligence the single largest predictor of success in the workplace.
Studies show that people who have high levels of Emotional Intelligence are better problem-solvers, make sound decisions, can stay calm under pressure, excel at resolving interpersonal conflict, have deeper empathy and respond constructively to criticism and feedback. They are also successful at building and maintaining collaborative relationships, coping effectively with stress, and being able to withstand the uncertainties of change. In other words, such people are more emotionally secure and resilient.
But Emotional Intelligence is not just an abstract concept. Goleman states five key elements that, when inculcated into everyday interactions, can improve an individual’s leadership skills, work relationships, as well as productivity at work:
This refers to the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions, as well as those of others - including how your actions may affect your surroundings and other people.
Tips to improve
• Pay attention to your own emotional needs.
• Identify your personal emotional strengths and weaknesses.
• Keep in mind: Mood is transient and feelings are fleeting.
This element is all about expressing your emotions appropriately. They include being flexible, adaptable and having a balanced outlook on the situation, while also not hiding one’s own true feelings.
Tips to improve
• Find ways to de-stress from work.
• Have grounding techniques to keep you calm when you’re anxious or agitated.
• Take frequent breaks to assess your needs and the situation.
• Communicate assertively at the appropriate time: don’t bottle up your feelings.
Emotionally Intelligent people feel motivated intrinsically, i.e. they don’t need external rewards to do good work. Instead, they look for the inherent joy of the task at hand.
Tips to improve
• Find something to like about the work that you’re doing.
• Maintain an optimistic outlook: look for what is going right in a situation.
• Try to find different ways of doing things, to remain vital and creative.
This involves putting oneself in the shoes of another. If someone appears to be having a hard time, you might treat them with extra care or check in to see how you can help.
Tips to improve
• See things from the other person's point of view.
• Pay attention to how you respond to others.
Being able to interact well with others is essential. Important social skills include active listening, verbal communication skills, nonverbal communication skills, leadership, and persuasiveness.
Tips to improve it
• Pay attention to nonverbal communication.
• Ask for help when you need it.
• Avoid office drama.
Here are some other concrete tips for nurturing your Emotional Intelligence at work that will benefit your work performance and productivity levels:
• Ask yourself: What do I need? Take periodic breaks and assess your emotional need of the moment, whether it’s 5 minutes away from emails, hydration or a quick snack.
• Check in frequently with your work friends. Stay connected with your work friends by asking them how they are doing, with the intent to listen.
• Respect your colleagues’ views and boundaries. Respect their views even if they don’t align with yours and don’t engage in office politics.
• Help each other out. Try to be communicative, supportive and accommodating of each other without crossing personal boundaries.
• Play as a team. Help each other, delegate tasks, maintain boundaries and keep communication channels to build foundations for harmonious interpersonal relationships at work.
• Ask for feedback. Do not be afraid to receive feedback by becoming defensive or self-critical. A flow of honest feedback between one another helps improve the quality of the relationship as well as work quality.
Emotional intelligence has been shown to enhance the outcomes of work, drives higher motivation, help you become a more thoughtful leader, improve time management as well as hone your art of communication and self-control. Emotions are not just a personal arena but have their place in our professions too as we interact with people daily. Luckily, emotional intelligence is not a trait that you have to be born with. It is a skill that you can learn that gives rewards on a day-to-day basis at work as well as outside it.
Debanjali Saha is a counselling psychologist who works primarily with young adults using a compassion-focused approach in therapy. She is very passionate about Self-Compassion, a topic she has been researching since 2014. She works as a consultant content writer for Silver Oak Health. She also runs a wellness community called "Couch of Compassion", where she tries to help people relate to themselves with kindness through her writing and workshops.
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