Why emotional intelligence is important in your workplace

Written by Mikolaj Skubina
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In the modern workplace, as we interact with people from all over the world we are slowly starting to see the value of this unique insight into ourselves and others. The Emotional Quotient (EQ) focuses on the ability to understand emotions to guide thinking and behaviour. Internally it means that an individual can be self-aware and in harmony with her own values. Externally one can differentiate between emotions of others and respond accordingly to their inner experiences.

The idea of emotional intelligence dates back to the Enlightenment period when philosophers including René Descartes and John Locke developed a concept of “rational objectivity”. The goal was to experience the reality how it really is and not how people wanted to perceive it. The rational intelligence evolved then into a set of highly analytical, data-based approaches while its emotion-based sibling was took with a pinch of salt for the subsequent centuries.

In his 1995 book, Daniel Goleman broke down EQ into five crucial elements:

Self-awareness — recognizing personal strengths, weaknesses, values and impact on others

Self-regulation — ability to manage own emotions and control disruptive impulses and feelings

Motivation — an inner drive from enjoying own achievements

Empathy — recognizing, comprehending and understanding the emotions of others

Social skills — ability to interact with other individuals

Why you should work to increase your EQ?

Goleman’s research concluded that EQ accounted for ⅔ of the abilities necessary for top performance in leaders and mattered twice as much as technical expertise or IQ.

It makes sense as the emotional intelligence is often correlated with confidence, tenacity and high motivation. Yet better knowing yourself and others has far more benefits to it.

Understanding motivations of your co-workers can prove extremely beneficial when it comes to building a genuine trust and rapport. High EQ enables better internal collaboration and a true inclusiveness where everyone is brought to table to be heard out.

Managers who can recognize unrealised potential in others can better guide and empower them to grow professionally. Compassion allows greater insight into people and often helps in smoother conflict resolution. These kind of skills prove themselves useful also when dealing with third parties. Superior negotiation skills come not from relentlessness but rather from greater communication capabilities and higher adaptability to changes. This leads to more successful external alliances and less high stakes failures.

The change starts within you

A proper way to start is an introspection of yourself. Only one who knows his fears, drivers and triggers can progress to truly understanding others. This often requires shifting one’s mind yet is perfectly normal as all of us are influenced by cognitive biases. The most common examples are ones such as stereotyping (resulting from prejudice and confirmation bias), halo effect (inflating personality greatness based on one trait) or authority bias (being overly influenced by an opinion of authority).

Different people have different work motivation, some of us naturally lean towards introversion while the others are born extraverts and many, many more can be examined.

Understanding one’s traits is important as you progress towards learning other people.

A proper self-examination can lead to better relationships with coworkers and a satisfactory job aligned with your inner self.

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We are humans 24/7 and not only outside work hours

In modern corporate culture it is easy to forget that we cannot just shut down emotions when entering the office as overriding them can be extremely unhealthy in a longer run. The question often asked is ‘why do we need emotions in workplace?’ and the answer is dead simple. Lower stress levels, increased job satisfaction and a welcoming office atmosphere are results of this greater insight into others.

Many modern professions are built on international collaboration between people of different cultures and it’s more important than ever to create an environment where each person feels relevant and motivated to succeed.

It would be wise if a modern leader skillset had amongst its mandatory ingredients both rational and emotional intelligence. After all, if we expect someone to manage others it’s essential so that they know how to manage themselves first.