Emotional intelligence has been a buzzword thrown around lately. Since the pandemic induced lockdown and remote working, HRs and managers have been discussing the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace and its benefits. High emotional intelligence significantly improves one’s mental health, job performance, and leadership skills.
However, what is ’emotional intelligence,’ and why has it become so significant now? Why do we need to take care of emotional intelligence in the workplace? How do we increase employees’ emotional intelligence if it is that relevant? Let us find out.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Leading advocates of emotional Intelligence, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer define it as the ability to recognize and understand the emotions of oneself and other individuals. Individuals with higher emotional intelligence are often able to perceive the feelings of others through non-verbal cues as well as verbal communication.
Emotional intelligence is also known as ‘Emotional Quotient’ or EQ. Individuals with high EQ are able to make the necessary decisions, solve problems, and communicate with others effectively as they can quickly gauge and understand the emotions of others successfully.
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Daniel Goleman’s 5 Elements of Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman was responsible for familiarizing the world with the concept of emotional intelligence through his 1995 best-selling book, ‘Emotional Intelligence.’ According to Goleman, emotional intelligence or EI could be defined as a set of skills that can be used to drive leadership performance.
It outlines the five significant constructs of EI as follows:
Self-awareness is defined as the ability to understand and decipher one’s own emotions. It also includes the ability to measure one’s strengths, weaknesses, emotional drives, values, and goals. Such individuals can also recognize the impact of their words and actions on others and use their gut feelings to make effective decisions.
Self-regulation is a person’s ability to control and regulate their negative emotions. It also includes the ability to redirect one’s impulses to perform destructive activities arising from negative emotions. Such individuals can also adapt to changing circumstances to regulate themselves in such conditions.
In this scenario, ‘motivation’ refers to the ability of individuals to understand what motivates them. As these people can understand the source of their motivation, they can create those conditions to keep themselves motivated towards a goal. As a result, these individuals have a greater chance of achieving their goals since they know how to keep themselves motivated; consequently, they can also motivate others effectively.
Empathy is the ability to consider others’ feelings while making any decision. It is regarded as a requirement for anyone willing to lead a team in today’s business world. Such individuals can understand their teammates’ verbal and non-verbal cues and easily decipher their emotional state. Hence, they make for good leaders and bosses.
5. Social Skills
Social skills are all about getting along well with others. The ability to adapt oneself to please others while maintaining one’s individuality is a core aspect of social skills. Such persons are regarded as pleasant by people around them as they can gel well with everyone. People with higher social skills are more popular simply because it is easy to get along with such individuals.
Importance of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
It is a known fact that businesses thrive on people and their ability to communicate and network. Emotional intelligence is a significant factor for fulfilling both of these tasks effectively. With the help of EQ, you will be able to understand others and reason with them while also managing your emotions efficiently.
Some of the factors that highlight the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace are:
Understand non-verbal communication
With the aid of high EQ, a leader would understand their teammate’s non-verbal communication before it becomes a significant issue. Understanding others’ non-verbal cues becomes more accessible with the added EQ and being more empathetic towards others.
Become aware of personal emotions
Having a higher EQ also enables you to better understand and channel your emotions. This ability helps you focus on the tasks at hand, which is crucial for remaining productive throughout the day. For example, consider that you had a rough day at home after work; you would be able to control your emotions and focus on work rather than mulling over the previous day’s personal issues if you have a better EQ.
Improve company efficiency
When you are aware of your emotions and the emotions of your co-workers, you will be able to keep yourself occupied with work while also managing them effectively to help them stay focused on their tasks at hand. It helps make decisions quickly and complete the daily tasks more efficiently, improving the company’s overall efficiency.
Develop your career
Individuals with higher emotional intelligence are better leaders. They possess the necessary empathetic nature to perform well as a leader and understand the emotional state of their teammates and deal with them accordingly. Skills such as patience, active listening, positive attitude, and empathy can help you advance to a leadership role, thereby helping you further progress your career.
Encourage others for interpersonal skills
Since emotions are contagious, an individual’s higher emotional quotient would eventually rub off onto their teammates too. Showcasing empathy, motivation, responsibility, teamwork, and related skills would also help the teammates understand the importance of these values and develop them. It will lead to a rise in the overall EQ of the workforce, which, as we have seen earlier, leads to a more productive workforce.
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How to improve Emotional Intelligence?
Now that we have understood the importance of EQ let us take a few steps towards improving it as it is a proven contributor to a company’s success. Improving the EQ of the employees is bound to enhance the collective productivity and efficiency of the company, and hence it is essential to take deliberate steps to improve it. So, let us understand a few of these:
Identify your drawbacks
Before we begin to improve something, it is vital to understand where we stand currently. Similarly, we should identify our weaknesses by self-assessing our emotional quotient and its shortcomings. It will help improve our EQ and make us understand our colleagues and family better. Realizing where you stand concerning your EQ will help you make a list of your emotional weaknesses and come back to it later to understand how much you have improved. Basically, identifying your drawbacks enables you to create a baseline to determine how much you have improved down the line.
Review your history
Once you understand your weaknesses, the next step is to review your emotional intelligence history. Take a look at your past communication and how you responded to different situations. Think about how they would have felt when they got your replies. Put yourself in their shoes and understand their emotions when they get your response. Understanding these situations and how you could have replied better would help you improve your emotional intelligence and handle similar situations better in the future.
Seek help if required
If you are unsure about the steps after understanding your EQ history, you can seek help if required. Your manager or HR can help you in your pursuit to increase your emotional intelligence. It would help if you expressed your desire to improve your EQ, communication, and leadership skills and understand their suggestions. You may even encourage your HR to develop a leadership mentoring program for the company, which would benefit all the employees and, hence, the organization itself.
Now that you have a fair idea of your emotional intelligence and are taking active steps to improve it, you need to gather feedback from your peers. Your colleagues will be honest about your EQ, and as they are your peers, they will be able to provide you with their honest opinion about your emotional intelligence. You may even include your family members in the feedback loop to understand your communication and its effect on them. Based on this feedback, you will realize where you are going wrong and make the necessary corrections.
After completing all of the steps above, you would have a good idea of where you stand when it comes to EQ, how your EQ is improving and how it affects those around you. Once you gain this understanding, the next step is to keep practising what you have learned. As with anything you know, ‘practice makes perfect,’ and the same applies to emotional intelligence. Keep observing every communication and start gathering inputs from family and colleagues and your thoughts. You may even improve your communication and body language by paying attention to it while conversing. Your daily efforts will enhance your EQ while also inspiring others to do the same.
Emotional intelligence plays a significant part in improving the employees’ efficiency, productivity, and morale. Hence, one might say that it plays an essential role in ensuring the overall success of the company as well as personal career growth. Since it also inspires others to grow, it proves to be an effective tactic to ensure the company’s success. Hence, emotional intelligence is vital for the company’s growth and making the workplace a happy environment.
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