Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
18 October 2023 at 09:56 · 5 min read
The ability to observe, distinguish, and manage emotions helps us to deal with them more easily and solve everyday problems.
This ability is often termed ‘emotional intelligence.’ It’s a type of intelligence that refers to the ability to understand and appreciate emotions, as well as needs, motives, and goals. Being aware of our feelings creates a more objective image of ourselves and a better understanding of our own personality and behaviour. But this type of intelligence is not only limited to interpreting emotions, it also refers to the ability to manage one's emotions. It implies an ability to not only recognize feelings but monitor them and where possible consciously influence their development - through internal dialogue for example.
A person who can calm themselves and control their emotions (e.g., fear, low mood, or excitement) typically recovers faster and easier from upset, stress, or failure in general. A person who is able to consciously control and direct their feelings is also more likely to be capable of personal and professional achievements. Optimism, initiative, the strength to continue, or the ability to re-engage despite failure and frustration is important in business where things often do not go the way we planned.
Furthermore, being able to understand a person and their actions is the basis of any successful relationship. The ability to empathize with the emotional states of others, understanding and appreciating what they feel, need, or want allows us to respond appropriately. However, that doesn’t mean that an empathic attitude towards others should imply an unreserved approval of their feelings. Rather, it is simply a matter of respecting and understanding others.
The Business Environment
Emotional intelligence is not only desirable in everyday life, it is also a significant advantage in a business environment. Someone with better control of their feelings can cope more effectively with stress and knows better how to deal with success and failure - both their own and their team's. Such a person is often far more self-assured and knows what they need to be both motivated and motivating. In situations when they do experience failure, they are quicker to bounce back and see what they should change to achieve a better result next time.
Not only that, but research has shown that, in leading government agencies or non-profit organizations, it is not only the level of education, expertise, and general intelligence that is important for success. Much more important is how to deal with yourself and the people around you. With the business world changing rapidly around us, often the most consistently highly-valued abilities relate to our communication and self-management skills. That means things like one’s level of initiative, reliability and perseverance, interpersonal skills, and how we influence others.
Some people have innate well-developed communication skills, empathy, and the ability to connect with people around them. Many managers have the opportunity to establish a close relationship with employees or potential clients. They can see their needs and desires and thus more easily build productive relationships. Part of this ability is innate but often it is due to years of conscious training and development.
Learning different competencies is key to improving any individual's life, but this is especially so if we’re talking leadership positions. Being able to understand our own behaviour patterns, emotions, and the emotions of the people around us can be a huge advantage here. It can help us to communicate problems, manage teams and correct misunderstandings in the right way, leading to the establishment of better quality relationships, and greater business success.
Wondering about your emotional intelligence? Quickly look back and ask yourself how you react to stressful situations at work?
- Does it leave you thoroughly upset?
- Does it lead to an argument?
- Or, are you able to calmly control the situation?
It’s natural that stressful events produce strong reactions in us all. However, if you find you often experience intense reactions that overcome calmness, you may be more at risk of experiencing significant challenges in mental health as well. One common example in the workplace might be burnout, but it can contribute to a number of other conditions as well. That's why it's always best to be proactive in dealing with mental health issues and resolve them before they have the change to escalate.