Emotional intelligence is a buzzword we hear thrown around the corporate world and on LinkedIn a lot these days but what is emotional intelligence and how do we use it effectively at work? Emotional intelligence impacts our ability to communicate, resolve conflicts and work with others to reach goals. If your team is struggling to have productive conversations and accomplish projects, you may want to evaluate your team's emotional intelligence and implement some strategies to help them become more emotionally intelligent individuals.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence, sometimes referred to as emotional quotient (EQ), is the capacity to process and manage our emotions in productive ways so that we can communicate better, practice empathy for others, and manage stress and conflicts. Emotional intelligence helps you build stronger relationships, succeed at school and work, and achieve your career and personal goals. Focusing on using emotional intelligence can help you bring more consciousness and intention to your everyday conversations and actions, resulting in more positive outcomes. This in turn helps you stay on track when working towards goals, boost team morale, and optimize productivity.
Using emotional intelligence at work
Emotional intelligence is commonly regarded as a valuable soft skill that can play a huge role in a person's ability to communicate effectively, manage relationships, and solve problems. With this in mind, it makes sense that emotional intelligence is an important tool to have in professional settings.
People with a high level of emotional intelligence:
- Solve problems more effectively
- Remain calm in stressful situations
- Are skilled at resolving conflicts
- Show greater empathy
- Practice active listening, self-reflection, and respond appropriately to constructive criticism
People with a low level of emotional intelligence:
- Struggle to practice accountability, often playing a victim role and failing to take responsibility for their actions
- Use ineffective communication methods such as passive aggression
- Struggle to work as part of a team
- Are quick to criticize or dismiss others
How to improve emotional intelligence
Because emotional intelligence is a soft skill and a relatively new concept in the workplace, it can be a lot more difficult to pinpoint how to improve our emotional intelligence and then adopt the habit of implementing it more into our lives. Although the skill of using emotional intelligence is a bit more abstract than say improving our ability to use Microsoft Excel, there are exercises you can use to build your EQ.
The first person you should start using emotional intelligence with is yourself by practicing self awareness. Self awareness means bringing mindfulness to our feelings including what we're feeling, why we're feeling that way, and how those feelings influence the way we interact with others. Reflecting on these feelings is the best way to start learning about your emotional strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself if you're quick to grow angry or impatient with others. Or maybe you're very fearful of others, so you struggle to set appropriate boundaries. While emotions play an important role in our lives, try to remember that emotions are temporary. Before you react to a situation based on your initial emotions, take some time to consider if your reaction is appropriate to the situation and anticipate how your reaction may be received.
Learning how to manage your emotions will help you stay calm in the moment no matter what's going on. Take sometime to identify some easy things you can do to calm yourself down such as taking a short walk or journaling about your feelings. Having a few of these tactics at your disposal will help you immensely the next time you find yourself overwhelmed with a negative emotion such as anger or stress.
Social awareness involves identifying and interpreting both subtle and overt verbal and nonverbal signals from the people around you. Paying attention to these signals from others helps you know how they are feeling which can inform the way you should communicate with them. Using social awareness requires a high level of mindfulness and attentiveness on your part because you can't very well pick up on the signals other people are sending if you're solely concerned with your own thoughts and feelings. Giving interactions with people your full attention will allow you to pick up on subtle emotional shifts and communicative signals going on around you.
The next step to identifying the emotions of those around you is acknowledging those emotions and responding to them. One way you can practice this is by considering the situation from their perspective based on their unique experiences and how those experiences affect their point of view. By taking others' perceptions into consideration, you can learn about the different power dynamics at play and how those dynamics are affecting each team members' emotions and behaviors.
Emotional Intelligence at Work
It may be worthwhile to try implementing some of these strategies at work and encourage your team to interact with each other in a way that is more emotionally intelligent. Could your organization benefit from training on emotional intelligence in the workplace? Click here to get in touch with an L&D Consultant.