Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to recognise, understand and manage emotions - and the good news is, it can be developed over time.
Daniel Goldman, an American Psychologist who popularised emotional intelligence, developed a framework for EI that includes five elements; self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.
EI helps you understand your own emotions and others, and is an essential skill for interpersonal communication and positive relationships. It can help you empathise and put yourself in someone else’s shoes, as well as help you consider difficult situations before reacting. Emotional Intelligence gives you the ability to understand that while emotions are powerful, they are ultimately temporary.
How does Emotional Intelligence help the Workplace?
Everyone gets upset or moody at times when they have a bad day at work – but how you deal with it says a lot about how emotionally intelligent you are. Being more self-compassionate and compassionate towards others in your response is a sign of a high EI.
When you attend meetings in emotionally intelligent workplaces people listen, gather data, give space to respond and can speak to one another respectfully and work toward constructive outcomes. People can express their thoughts, emotions and exchange views freely and confidently rather than keeping emotions bottled up and unexpressed.
Workplaces with high EI have an acceptance and respect for diversity and they are inclusive toward views that don’t match their own. You can disagree respectfully and still cooperate on a common goal.
With high EI people can navigate change more easily and flexibly. Change is managed by leaders more effectively with EI implemented into the planning and execution of change, as well as the response to changes within the workplace.
High emotional intelligence leads to more social connection, which results in a more cohesive team. These teams can enjoy time together, be more relaxed and have fun – which keeps stress levels down. An emotionally intelligent workplace can develop a family-like culture that cares.
How can you be more emotionally intelligent?
• Learn mindfulness practice and skills to increase the awareness of your mind, physical sensations, emotions and the environment in which you work.
• Develop an understanding of how to self-regulate stress when it hijacks your brain and allow space between the stimulus and your response, reducing the likelihood of you overreacting.
• Developing empathy to identify and understand the wants and viewpoints of those you work with, stereotype less and be more open, honest and curious.
• Increase motivation by moderating individual reactions and develop a more cohesive and effective team.
• Empower others in your team to be more effective and successful by building and maintaining good relationships.
Emotionally intelligent workplace cultures will not only provide the potential for high performance to emerge, they will be able to reduce flare-ups of impulsive judgement that can lead to harmful conflict and personal stress. The extent to which you can develop your own emotional understanding and management will determine how well you can understand and manage other people’s.