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Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

The term emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient (EQ), was coined in 1990 by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer. It refers to a type of social intelligence involving your ability to discriminate between your own and others’ emotions and to use those feelings to guide your thoughts and actions.

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How Does Emotional Intelligence Help?

Emotional intelligence is a valuable tool for helping you connect with others, overcome challenges, and manage your own emotions. There are four main elements to emotional intelligence:

  • Self-Management: You are aware of and keep in check any impulsive feelings and behaviors. You have healthy strategies to control your emotions. You are able to adapt to different circumstances, follow through with commitments, and take the initiative.
  • Self-Awareness: You can recognize your emotions as they arise and understand how they can affect your thoughts and behavior. You are aware of your strengths and weaknesses and possess self-confidence.
  • Social Awareness: You can understand and empathize with the feelings and emotional needs of others. You can perceive emotional cues, feel comfortable in social situations, and recognize group dynamics.
  • Relationship Management: You understand how to cultivate and maintain good personal relationships. You can communicate clearly and confidently and are influential to others. You work well in a team and can manage conflict successfully.

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that emotional intelligence is the enemy of your intellect; this is not the case. It is possible to have high levels of both of these skills. However, many aspects of life are inherently social, and you need to be able to function well within a relational environment to succeed. As well as taking care of your physical and mental well-being, emotional intelligence helps you to maintain effective relationships and deal with conflict should it arise. Emotional intelligence especially important in the workplace.

How Does Emotional Intelligence Function in the Workplace?

Your career and work life can be drastically affected by your emotional intelligence. Your workplace is a relational environment, and it’s also a melting pot of personalities, strengths, skills, and emotional traits. So, it makes sense that individuals with a higher emotional intelligence level are able to navigate the workplace relational system more successfully than others.

It’s also a fact that a lower level of emotional intelligence can be a serious drawback in the workplace. Symptoms of low EQ can be seen in several negative workplace interactions such as bullying, harassment, and lack of engagement. It can also manifest as aggression, insensitivity, and arrogance.

How Can You Tell if Your Emotional Intelligence Needs Improving?

Reviewing the four elements of emotional intelligence – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management – is a good way to get a better picture of where you may need some personal development. There are different models of emotional intelligence, and each of them has its own assessment tools, which can help you boost your emotional intelligence in the workplace. For example, the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI), which helps you:

  • Measure and understand emotional intelligence in yourself, your teammates, and leaders
  • Raise awareness of emotional intelligence through positive feedback
  • Improve conflict management techniques
  • Maintain a more positive outlook in the workplace
  • Work with others to achieve shared goals
How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

The good news is that there are strategies you can learn to improve and develop your emotional intelligence. Here are some tips to help you work on your emotional skills.

  • Use Observation: Be attentive to how you interact with other people. Do you stereotype them? Are you quick to judge? Consider their position and try to be more in-tune to and accepting of their emotional needs.
  • Examine Your Environment: Are you constantly looking for attention or recognition of your accomplishments? Try to practice humility. It doesn’t mean you lack confidence, but rather, you are quietly confident.
  • Evaluate Yourself: Be completely honest and ask yourself the following questions: Where do your weaknesses lie? Where do you see room for improvement? How do you react in stressful situations? On which areas could you work to change your life in positive ways?
  • Take Responsibility: Always own your actions. If you cross a line or hurt someone’s feelings, apologize straight away. Don’t just act like what you did never happened. Before you take action, examine how they will affect those around you. Imagine yourself in their position and consider what your feelings would be like.

Don’t underestimate the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace. Understand your competencies and your weaknesses; this is the first step to evaluating and improving your emotional intelligence. Even if you have many leadership strengths, you most likely still have areas where there’s room to grow.