As a result of COVID-19, more and more people are working remotely, which means that Emotional Intelligence (EI) in the workplace is increasingly becoming just as important as IQ. When your EI is high, you can manage your feelings, negotiate social situations, and make sound choices.
You can see why it’s such a valuable asset in the workplace: it’s necessary for interpersonal communication. Employees who aren’t emotionally intelligent may struggle to empathize with their team members, misinterpret the emotional cues they send, or adequately communicate their emotions and motivations. Simply put, lacking emotional intelligence could cause an employee to come across as needlessly rude or difficult to work with.
Some people are born with the capacity for empathy and emotional maturity to manage their own and others’ feelings. Others, however, need to work on improving their emotional intelligence skills. This article will discuss why Emotional Intelligence (EI) is vital in the workplace and provide some valuable pointers on how you may build your own EI.
How does emotional intelligence help in the workplace?
Emotional intelligence has proven to have a considerable influence on professional success. Generally speaking, you lack a shared background to extrapolate people’s motivations when you’re at work. When you don’t have the same emotional connection with your coworkers as you do with your loved ones at home, it can be harder to get along with them. That’s where being emotionally intelligent comes into play.
Successful leaders and managers not only acknowledge the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace but also practice it daily and instruct their colleagues to do the same. People who score well on the EI scale:
- Handle work stress well
- Have better emotional stability;
- Do not feel personally attacked by a workplace conflict or any work-related criticism; and
- Resolve disagreements without the use of aggression.
Unfortunately, many still believe that showing emotions at work can negatively affect employees’ commitment, work quality, and the likelihood of staying around longer. But the truth is having a high EI will help you navigate office politics, low morale, and lack of teamwork.
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What roles require emotional intelligence as a key skill in the selection process?
Positions that require a high degree of emotional intelligence include:
- Jobs with a lot of emotional stress – Emotional intelligence is crucial in healthcare professions like medicine and nursing, where workers must be compassionate towards their patients. When filling these positions, those with high emotional intelligence will show compassion and understanding for the people they care about. Understanding their emotional needs will help them deliver the right kind of care for their charges. Finally, they have a firmer grasp of their emotional and mental state, allowing them to persevere when things are tough.
- Jobs with potential for conflicts – Emotionally intelligent people are invaluable in positions where they may need to resolve disputes. Employees with a high EI have better interpersonal connections, improving their ability to empathize and see things from other people’s perspectives. They are excellent diplomats and peacemakers and can act as liaisons and mediate problems between unrelated parties without worsening the situation. Emotional intelligence is beneficial in fields such as customer service, where workers must quickly interact with difficult customers and provide actionable solutions to their problems. Customer service reps with a high EI will be able to control their reactions to strong emotions from an angry or frustrated customer, show empathy, and solve their problems more effectively.
- Jobs involving leadership and management – Leaders of any level are responsible for the people they oversee and must take their feelings into account in every work-related decision. When this doesn’t happen, tensions rise, trust falls apart, and people begin to quit left, right and center. Managers with high EI have better relationships with their subordinates, can anticipate and handle internal team conflicts, and have a more balanced approach toward the leader-follower dynamic. In addition, emotionally intelligent managers can keep their emotions in check at all times, thereby preventing detrimental effects on their staff’s performance and job satisfaction. It’s been observed that empathetic leaders are 40% more effective at boosting employee engagement, making sound decisions, and providing effective coaching.
How can you build emotional intelligence?
Contrary to common misconception, you can develop emotional intelligence skills fairly quickly. All you need is a basic familiarity with EI, the ability to use some helpful tools, and some effort on your part to put them into practice.
Acknowledge your emotions.
Keep a close eye on your feelings as they occur and call them what they are: anger, hurt, envy, or delight. Even though these are uniquely subjective experiences, giving them names can help you view them as external to your identity rather than intrinsic. Learn to identify their significance and understand how they influence your thoughts, feelings, and actions. When you realize what you are dealing with, you’ll be better able to manage your emotions and keep them under control.
Take stock of your situation.
Create a list of your best and worst qualities. You can do this exercise with your team or staff to figure out how to help each individual grow professionally and perform at their highest level. Be reasonable; don’t be overly critical or overly inventive. Understanding your own limitations and those of your team members is essential for effective delegation.
Show patience, kindness, and empathy while listening.
To ensure that their employees feel acknowledged and understood, empathic leaders pay close attention to what their employees say, make themselves personable, and identify their underlying emotions. Rather than acting out your sentiments to satisfy your emotional demands, try putting yourself in the shoes of those around you. Suppose you can tune into the feelings of others around you. In that case, you’ll be better equipped to deal with any situation, whether you need to reassure a staff member who is nervous about a new assignment, inspire someone who was passed over for a promotion, or excite a large audience.
Show genuine interest and support.
Take an active interest in the aspirations and achievements of your coworkers. Give them practical advice on making their dreams come true. Help them recognize the stressors, obstacles, and barriers they’re facing, and then guide them on how to deal with those issues.
Develop social awareness.
Take note of the social and organizational settings around you. Because leaders constantly interact with others, they must practice social awareness to read emotions and interpret social situations accurately.
While it’s true that AI will take over a lot of jobs currently done by humans over the next decade, AI can’t calm down a client who just found out they missed a deadline. Nothing written in code can negotiate better pay or perks. A machine has no idea when to capitalize on a person’s goodwill. In other words, emotional intelligence will soon be the deciding factor in recruitment. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an employee or the boss. Practicing emotional intelligence will inevitably lead to better job performance, stronger interpersonal relationships, and more professional achievements in the workplace.