Emotional Intelligence at Work

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and to recognise the emotions of the people around you. People who have developed their emotional intelligence have a high level of self-awareness, they know what they’re feeling and understand the thoughts that created those feelings. They know what their emotions mean, how they might be expressing those emotions, and how this can affect other people.

Daniel Goleman, the psychologist who helped to popularise emotional intelligence, describes five key elements:

  1. Self-awareness.
  2. Self-regulation.
  3. Motivation.
  4. Empathy.
  5. Social skills.
1. Self-awareness

If you are self-aware, you’ll be able to recognise and understand your thoughts and feelings. You’ll also know how your emotions and behaviour affect the people around you. Being aware of this, as well as knowing your personality traits, your strengths and weaknesses, will help you to build a strong relationship with your colleagues.

2. Self-regulation

Learn how to manage your emotions to avoid making emotional decisions which may be unwise. Get to know your values, beliefs and biases, see where you’re making assumptions, and pay attention to how this affects your decision making. Self-regulation is all about staying in control. Accept responsibility and take ownership of your mistakes too, holding yourself accountable and doing what’s needed to put things right.

3. Motivation

Set yourself clear goals and work consistently toward achieving them. Understand what motivates you, set inspiring goals for yourself and encourage your team to set and achieve their goals too. Build strong relationships by supporting each other to achieve your goals together.

4. Empathy

Empathy is an important part of any relationship. Learn how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and see situations, challenges and conversations from their perspective. Something that may seem insignificant to you could be a big concern for someone else. Acknowledge how important the issue is for them, and respond to it accordingly. Be aware of how you’re communicating, and remember that your words and actions can be misunderstood, however good your intentions. Empathy must be authentic, your colleagues won’t trust or respect you if they don’t believe you’re being genuine.

5. Social Skills

Miscommunication is one of the main challenges in all relationships, personal and professional. Develop your communication skills, learn how to give feedback in an effective way if this is part of your role, and also to receive feedback as a way of learning. Become an active listener so you fully understand what’s being said, but also what isn’t being said. People value the opportunity to be heard, but don’t become everyone’s shoulder to cry on at cost to yourself.

Working on building your emotional intelligence will help you to grow personally as well as professionally, and make it easier to get along with your colleagues. Which of these five elements appeals to you most? Which one sounds the most difficult?

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