What is emotional intelligence?
First, let’s get a baseline on what emotional intelligence actually is. Emotional intelligence (EI), otherwise known as EQ (emotional quotient), can be defined as someone who has the ability to perceive, understand and manage their own feelings and emotions.
Once we have a clear grasp on what EI means, we can look into what emotional intelligence in the workplace means for your business.
Someone who is emotionally intelligent usually displays these five distinct traits of EI:
- Self-awareness – they have a conscious knowledge of their own character and feelings
- Self-regulation – they have the ability to regulate their own behaviour and emotions, without intervention from anyone else
- Internal motivation – people who engage in behaviour from their own will power, because it’s satisfying to them as an individual
- Empathy – a person who has the ability to understand and share the feelings of another
- Social skills – someone with good social skills are competent at communicating and interacting with others
Even from a quick glance, it’s easy to see how EI applies in the workplace! Clearly, workers with higher self-regulation, internal motivation and social skills have an advantage on those that don’t. But let’s take an in-depth look into why….
Why EQ matters in the workplace
Researchers found that emotional intelligence training boosted employee productivity and resulted in better evaluations from management. The importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace is significant – here’s why.
Understanding your own emotional strengths and weaknesses in the workplace is crucial. Everyone has a specialism and everyone has something they don’t care for.
Being self-aware and knowing your limits is great for team projects, where you can delegate certain tasks to others who may have better skills in a certain area. This will make sure that the work being done will be completed to the highest of standards.
This importance of this characteristic at work centres on your capacity to express yourself both openly and tactfully.
Someone who doesn’t have great self-regulation skills may be prone to sudden emotional outbursts, which is not a promising characteristic to bring into a working environment. A worker high in emotional intelligence is also more likely to listen, reflect and respond to constructive criticism.
Emotionally intelligent people need little external motivation from others. They take pride in accomplishing great things solely for the sake of personal fulfilment.
Internally motivated people are great to have in the workplace, as they don’t need others for support or stimulation when working on big tasks. They will work hard regardless.
Empathy is the ability to understand how another person feels and experiences the world, especially when that perspective is very different from their own.
Empathic employees are great in the workplace, as other workers are more likely to follow somebody who shows genuine empathy towards them.
Having great people skills is very important in the workplace. In any business or any industry. It’s important to make friends and get along with other colleagues.
You want to make sure your company culture is skyrocketing, so having employees with great people skills is a good thing to have. Employees with high EI are usually better at resolving conflicts as well. So you should encounter less workplace spats!
Another business benefit of having a workforce of employees with great people skills is in the areas of the business such as sales, marketing and customer services.
Keep their cool under pressure
Emotionally intelligent employees are more likely to keep their cool under pressure. This could lead to them making better business decisions and display an overall higher level of job performance.
How to increase your EI?
Now we know a little bit more information on what EI looks like and why it’s beneficial in the workplace. So let’s look at how you can increase EI in the workplace.
Here are a few things that you and your workers can do to help increase your emotional intelligence across the board.
Keep calm and carry on
In order to rationally manage your emotions, you must be aware of them in the first place. In any industry, in particular HR, most days come with emotional challenges.
Sometimes you just need to take a little time to process what’s happening. Even if your busy schedule is jam-packed, all you need is five minutes a day to switch off your brain and reconnect to your emotions.
Setting up time in your day, whether that’s before, during or after work will help you work on the self-awareness aspect of EI. Having that time to yourself to sit and reflect on your behaviours and emotions will give you better insight into your emotional triggers, so you can work on them in the future.
People who are emotionally intelligent don’t just stuff their emotions and feelings into a box. They are more open and honest about how they feel. Learn how to maturely express how situations are affecting you.
Start small, speak up more in meetings if you disagree with something or if you think something needs more attention. Learning to stand up and be a more open and honest communicator by letting people know when you are struggling, needing help or delegating tasks.
Stay cool, calm and collected
A part of being Emotionally Intelligent is being able to stay cool, calm and collected at all times. Having control of your emotions at all times.
This is a hard skill to learn, so until you master it you’re going to have to allow yourself to walk away at times. When things in the workplace get a little heated, it’s best to let things cool first. When problems are fresh, we aren’t always ready to address them. Most people will respect you more if you ask them to let you continue the conversation after you’ve had some time to process what’s going on.
Cultivate good emotional health
Emotional health is just as important as your physical health, but it’s often not given the attention it needs. Having a better work-life balance can help make sure your emotional health is ticking over.
A few ways to offer work-life balance in the workplace are;
- Provide flexible hours to your staff, including seasonal hours
- Allow employees to work from home when they need to – providing your staff with laptops and the correct equipment makes working remotely much more possible
- Implement less rigid lunch schedules – your employees know how long they get for lunch, and what their to-do list looks like. Trust them to make the right decision and juggle their own time effectively.
- Create a more relaxed workplace. Encourage staff to engage in social or team building activities that get them working better together. It’s also good to get them to talk about things other than work! It helps with workforce bonding and establishing your company culture
- An open door policy to encourage your employees to be more honest and communicate more with leaders and managers
There’s plenty of other ways to make sure your employees are getting the right work-life balance.
Setting goals to increase your emotional intelligence in the workplace is important. Goals such as identifying your emotional triggers, improving your people skills by going to lunch with coworkers you don’t know that well or not complaining about things are all small goals that will help you measure your EI improvements.
Create a culture to encourage emotional intelligence
EI takes practice. Businesses should create a culture where employees and managers alike can practice and perfect their emotional intelligence. It shows your employees that your business cares which is good for their over wellbeing.
Company culture is very important when it comes to increasing emotional intelligence in the workplace – we have a whitepaper on the very topic. Take a look!
Engaging Employees: A Competitive Differentiator
Examples of Emotional Intelligence in the workplace
Example #1. People listen to each other in meetings
The first working example of emotional intelligence done right in the workplace is when people in your business listen to each other in meetings. Meetings where everyone are talking over each other and fighting for the last word are not good for business.
And surprise – they’re also a tell-tale sign of a lack of emotional intelligence. When people are allowed to speak and others listen without constant interruptions, it’s a good sign of EI. It shows a mutual respect between your workers and is more likely to lead to a constructive conclusion in that meeting.
Example #2. People express themselves openly
A workplace where people feel confident in speaking their minds, exchanging views and expressing their emotions is also demonstrating emotional intelligence. Basically having an overall good thread of communication in the workplace is a sign of high EI.
Example #3. Flexibility
Lastly, we have flexibility. Building flexibility into the way your employees work can be the difference between retaining top talent or having high turnover rates. Emotionally intelligent leaders understand the changing demands of others and are prepared to work with them rather than trying to impose restrictions on how people go about their work.
If you try to implement even just a few of the approved suggestions, you’ll notice that your emotional intelligence will only increase. Get your whole team on board and you’ve got a workforce fueled by emotional intelligence which will have outstanding benefits for your business goals, outcomes and overall performance.