emotional intelligence in workplace

Here’s how you can enhance emotional intelligence in the workplace

Emotional intelligence at work won’t just help you become a better co-worker and employee, it may just be the secret weapon that you need to distinguish yourself and achieve success in your career.

Emotional intelligence or EQ plays a pivotal role in both your personal and professional success. Your intelligence quotient or IQ will get you through the door. But your ability to recognise and understand your and others’ emotions and their effect on those around you will ultimately determine whether or not you can move up the ladder.

Researchers Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer first explored the term emotional intelligence in 1990. They defined it as “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions” in the journal Imagination, Cognition, and Personality. But it was Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of the book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, who built upon this research and popularised the notion and its business application.

Earlier, it was presumed that those with higher IQ would outperform people with lower IQ at a workplace. Interestingly enough, research has shown that people with higher IQ out-performed the ones with lower IQ only about 20 per cent of the time. Whereas people with lower IQ outdid those with higher IQ 70 per cent of the time. Researchers discovered that the critical difference was emotional intelligence.

In the workplace, emotional intelligence comes down to understanding, expressing and maintaining relationships, and solving problems under pressure. People who possess this quality always seem to know what to say and how to say it so that others are not offended. If you can build and maintain strong relationships, you can work happily and productively with the people around you.

The good news is that, unlike IQ, the level of emotional intelligence can continue to grow, develop and change. You can improve your emotional intelligence with training, reflection, and practice.  You can follow these tips to increase your emotional intelligence in the workplace.

Be self-aware

When you are self-aware, you recognise your emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behaviour. You have a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and you operate with humility and kindness. For example, if you are feeling stressed, uninspired, and deflated in your current role, you must take the time to check in with yourself and understand why you are feeling this way. When you can recognise the emotion and understand its cause, you are in a much better place to address the issue with appropriate action, such as finding productive ways to deal with a difficult colleague.

Develop empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share someone else’s feelings and emotions. It is an important skill to have when you are negotiating a deal with a customer or talking to superiors about your promotion. This gives you the ability to anticipate others’ reactions and needs. When you are part of a diverse team where people come from different cultures, having empathy will help you understand and appreciate different points of view, allowing you to come up with an innovative solution to a problem. Moreover, noticing and responding to the needs of the people you work with makes for happy work culture.

Take criticism well

There are times when you shouldn’t listen to criticism. For example, when it’s false or presented in a way that’s meant to destroy your self-worth. But that’s not usually the case. When you are on the receiving end of criticism, your goal should be to learn from the feedback. Do not let your emotions get the better of you. Be proactive and take it as a lesson. When you accept criticism, apply it, move forward, you take a big step towards improving yourself.

Be an active listener

The ability to listen can help raise your level of emotional intelligence.  Whether it is a social situation or an office meeting, when you pay attention to what others are saying, you learn from their experience. The person speaking will also feel more at ease, and therefore, communicate more easily, openly, and honestly. This will help develop empathy and compassion, which are both critical factors in developing emotional intelligence.

Be resilient

Resilience is an important trait that can enable you to lead a happy life. By not allowing a difficult situation to get the better of you, you can emerge triumphant at work. Struggles can teach you many valuable lessons, such as how to anticipate and react to stressful situations. This, in turn, can help you learn how to look at the bigger picture. And when you believe that your end goal is bigger than the prevailing circumstance, you can manage the intensity of your emotions and take a big step towards developing emotional intelligence.

Embrace change

Flexibility is the ability to adjust emotions, thoughts, and behaviours according to changing circumstances. It indicates whether you welcome and even seek out newer experiences or prefer a more stable environment at work. When you become flexible, you are open to others’ ideas, ready to admit mistakes and move on, and can easily learn new things. Moreover, you will be able to change your mindset when evidence suggests that you are mistaken. You need to be flexible if you want to raise your emotional intelligence.

Manage your stress

We all experience stress in our everyday lives. Whether it comes from your work or relationships, most of the time you can’t change the circumstances that caused it. What you can do is become more aware of the indicators and take measures to manage them effectively. This process starts with improving your emotional intelligence. People with higher levels of emotional intelligence are more aware of their feelings, what causes them, and why. This awareness allows them to recognise stressors earlier and come up with techniques for coping with them.


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