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Emotional intelligence in the workplace

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You have probably heard of IQ — rational intelligence quotient, but have you heard of EQ — emotional intelligence quotient

According to Crunchbase statistics, 95% of leaders who participated in the research stated that EQ is more important than IQ in leadership.  

Bearing in mind how important emotional intelligence is, let’s talk about the following: 

  • The definition and importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace, 
  • The examples of employees with low and high EQ, and 
  • The key elements of emotional intelligence and how to improve them. 

Without further ado, let’s dive into it! 

What is emotional intelligence in the workplace? 

Emotional intelligence is a relatively new phenomenon. 

The term was coined and first used in 1990 by John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey, while Daniel Goleman provided the best definition.  

Goleman stated in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ that emotional intelligence is “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and our relationships.”

Now that we know what emotional intelligence is, let’s find out why it is important in the workplace. 

Why is emotional intelligence important in the workplace?

According to Goelman’s book, it is not unusual for people with an IQ of, for example, 160 to work for people with an IQ of 100. 

“How is that?”, you might ask. 

Well, the hidden catch is emotional intelligence. 

The higher your emotional intelligence is, the more benefits you can enjoy. 

Here are some benefits that will motivate you to work on your emotional intelligence. 

Benefit #1: Emotional intelligence improves teamwork

Emotionally intelligent professionals are good team players because they are: 

  • Communicating better, 
  • Open to their colleagues’ ideas, and 
  • Less intrusive (i.e. they will not try to take complete control over an assignment). 

In other words, self-regulation (a constituent of emotional intelligence) of your emotions contributes to you being a great team player. 

Benefit #2: Emotional intelligence improves your career prospects

If you want to be an effective leader, you must always work on your emotional intelligence. 

High EQ enables you to understand your position in the company and build strong relationships with your colleagues. 

Hence, when you understand your role and have strong relationships with your coworkers, the doors of promotions and raises start to open.  

Benefit #3: Emotional intelligence reduces stress

The research Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: Exploring its Effects on Occupational Stress and Organizational Commitment proves that people with higher emotional intelligence suffer less from work-related stress

In other words, the bigger the EQ, the less stress! 

Benefit #4: Emotional intelligence increases accountability

We all make mistakes. 

To paraphrase Theodor Roosevelt — a person who doesn’t error is a person who doesn’t do anything

However, the key is to accept constructive feedback and correct the mistakes you have made. 

That is what people with higher emotional intelligence do best. 

In other words, emotionally intelligent people: 

  • Don’t blame others for their errors, and 
  • Do their best to correct their mistakes. 

Benefit #5: Emotional intelligence improves the workplace environment

A positive atmosphere in the workplace raises the employees’ morale and improves the company culture. 

However, only employees with high EQ can improve the workplace environment. 

That is because they can: 

  • Handle stress better,
  • Resolve conflicts, and 
  • Contribute to a positive and healthy atmosphere in the workplace. 

Benefit #6: Emotional intelligence improves motivation and engagement 

The study called Role of Emotional Intelligence on Employee Engagement has proven there is a connection between employees’ enthusiasm and emotional intelligence in the workplace. 

Moreover, employees with higher EQ show more dedication to their work

Benefit #7: Emotional intelligence builds effective communication

Imagine there is a situation in which you face a lot of pressure.  

The worst thing you can do is react impulsively and let it ruin your relationships with others. 

Hence, it is principal to stay calm, think about what you will do, and communicate clearly. 

And, what is the key to all this? 

Emotional intelligence. 

It helps you stay assertive and proactive in every situation.

Traits of people with high and low EQ in the workplace

Here are some traits of people with high EQ in the workplace: 

  • Making more effective decisions that solve problems
  • Working well under pressure
  • Resolving disputes
  • Listening, thinking about the feedback, and providing the appropriate response, and 
  • Displaying empathy for others

On the other hand, your colleagues most likely have a low EQ if you notice some of the following attributes:

  • Avoiding responsibility
  • Using passive aggressive tone
  • Hating teamwork
  • Ignoring other colleagues’ advice, and 
  • Constantly criticizing others

However, you can always increase your emotional intelligence by improving the 5 key elements mentioned below. 

How to improve the 5 elements of emotional intelligence in the workplace

Goleman, in his work mentioned above, claims that there are 5 key elements of emotional intelligence in the workplace: 

  • Self-awareness,
  • Self-regulation, 
  • Motivation, 
  • Empathy, and 
  • Social skills. 

Let’s see what they actually are and how to improve them. 

Element #1: Self-awareness (and how to improve it)

For Goleman, self-awareness is the principal element of emotional intelligence. 

Without self-awareness and understanding of our emotions, we become their slaves and cannot be the pilots of our lives. 

Hence, it is pivotal to nurture our self-awareness by doing the following: 

  • Writing down our plans and priorities, 
  • Taking psychometric tests, and 
  • Asking for regular feedback. 

Element #2: Self-regulation (and how to improve it)

Identifying and understanding your emotions is fine, but it is also important to know how to cope with your feelings. 

That is why self-regulation is essential. 

It helps us find the balance between letting the emotions overwhelm us and suppressing them. 

To make self-regulation one of your advantages, implement the following: 

  • Deliberately respond instead of reacting, 
  • Reconcile with the fact you cannot control everything, and 
  • Find stress-relieving hobbies. 

Element #3: Motivation (and how to improve it)

The book Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior teaches us we must be motivated to persist in whatever we do. 

However, we must divide motivation into two types: 

  • Intrinsic motivation (we want to feel internal satisfaction), and 
  • Extrinsic motivation (we want awards or public recognition). 

In emotional intelligence, intrinsic motivation plays a pivotal role. 

To preserve our intrinsic motivation, we should follow the following tips: 

  • Keep a positive attitude, 
  • Concentrate on positive aspects of our jobs, and
  • Avoid seeking material rewards. 

Element #4: Empathy (and how to improve it)

There is no emotional intelligence without empathy. 

Without empathy, we wouldn’t be able to understand what other people feel and be compassionate. 

Furthermore, according to the 2022 State of Workplace Empathy, 70% of professionals believe that empathetic organizations increase employee motivation. 

Therefore, some of the following tips might help you increase your empathy:

  • Look at things from another person’s perspective,
  • Read books, and 
  • Have difficult conversations. 

Element #5: Social skills (and how to improve it) 

Social skills consist of: 

Social skills are an integral part of emotional intelligence. 

So, it is crucial to develop them by implementing some of the following tips: 

  • Always listen actively, 
  • Pay attention to nonverbal language, and 
  • Sharpen your persuasiveness. 

Further Reading

This is only a summary of an article published on a Pumble blog. 

To learn more about emotional intelligence and its importance, read the full article: