Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Oct 14, 2016

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a relatively new theory which was first coined in 1964 by Michael Beldoch, but it was widely popularised with the best selling book by Goleman in 1995 named ‘Emotional Intelligence - Why it can matter more than IQ’. It is different to IQ because IQ is a measurement of one’s intelligence, however EI is defined as somebody's ability to monitor their own emotions, other peoples emotions and using this emotional information to guide their actions and thoughts. It is quite a complex theory but it is becoming recognised due to the parts it can play in growing up throughout school and in the workplace. 


How important is emotional intelligence? 

Now it is established what emotional intelligence is, it should be understood that once a person is able to effectively manage their emotions, it will help with forging relationships more effectively and will ultimately lead to more success. People with high EI are usually more valued in the eyes of employers due to their personality which allows them to under stand other people and share a deeper connection with other people. Many employers tend to to send their employees onto emotional intelligence courses due to the importance of it in the workplace.


Emotional intelligence can be broken down into 4 sections:

Self Awareness

People who have high EI are very self aware, they are able to take a honest look at themselves from time to time and evaluate themselves. The key is to remember that self awareness is the foundation of success, your emotions and feelings are controlled by you and only you have the power to control them.

Awareness of yourself and your emotions can be developed. Spend some time recognising areas that you need to develop and start intentionally making an effort to develop or strengthen that aspect of yourself.

Being self aware is a great method to assess a problem because you are looking at what is wrong subjectively to work out what you can personally do better in order to get around the problem.


Self Management

This section is about managing those emotions and feelings that you are aware of. At times they may be overwhelming, causing people to act on impulse which may later lead to regret, shame or other negative feelings. Being able to control your feelings is going to help you throughout life and when in a workplace because not everything falls into place, the ability to control yourself in these situations is one step to success. 

Ways to do this include; Remain aware of your feelings, pay attention on how you are feeling in the situation and then proceed to either take a moment out to picture what the “right” response would be. The right response may be different to what you feel like doing but it is important at this stage to be rational with yourself by weighing up the consequences of your acts and how they will affect you and others around you. Everybody has a choice in what they do, the freedom to choose their response in any situation.


Social Awareness

The other two sections refer to one’s self, social awareness is all about reading other peoples needs, feelings or emotions. This ability to understand others on a deeper level is what allows people to connect strongly with others whether it be for friendships, relationships or during work.


Daniel Goleman stated that the characteristics of socially aware fall under 3 categories:

  1. Empathy - The understanding of other people’s emotions, needs and concerns. Emphasising with somebody doesn’t necessarily mean you have to always agree with their point of view, just to understand it.
  2. Organisational Awareness - This is the understanding of the organisation’s rules or regulations that may affect the behaviour of people that work there.
  3. Service - The ability to read what the client wants and how to deliver it.


How to progress

Developing EI is crucial to becoming successful as you grow as a person in order to deal with the daily situations that you are likely to come across, some people learn it naturally but others have not and it doesn’t mean you can’t. There are lots of methods on how to progress, many of which are small improvements such as better listening, think more rationally by not acting on impulse or by taking short courses on interpersonal skills. 

More and more companies are factoring into account the EI of an employee so it is important to nurture social skills whenever possible.

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