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3 months ago by Meg Fenner - Jamieson

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

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According to Forbes, 25% of UK business leaders say that emotional intelligence (also known as ‘emotional quotient’, or EQ) is undervalued in the hiring process.

Despite most businesses reporting it as an important skill for their employees and the prediction that EQ will become one of the top ten skills wanted by employers by 2020, we are not hearing about it nearly as much as we’d expect.

Emotional Intelligence refers to the ability to observe, control and assess emotions, for example, adapting your communication styles for different audiences. Or, if you want the official definition from the experts “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman says it has five central components:

1. Self-awareness – the ability to identify and understand your moods and emotions, and how they affect others around you

2. Self-regulation – the ability to control urges and tempers, and to think before acting

3. Internal motivation – having a drive to pursue goals for personal reasons, rather than for rewards

4. Empathy – the ability to recognise and understand the motivations of those around you, essential for building and leading teams successfully

5. Social skills – the ability to manage relationships and build networks

Basically, it’s good social and interpersonal skills, which as any recruiter or hiring manager will tell you, are crucial skills any potential employee must have. Currently, employers are looking for more than just technical skills and are putting a greater emphasis on soft skills. And there’s good reason for this.

A study found that business leaders saw increased motivation and morale, improved leadership, and better collaboration between teams as key benefits from employees with high levels of emotional intelligence. It’s key that as hiring managers and employers, we utilise our understanding of emotional intelligence to improve the quality of hires.

Emotionally intelligent workers tend to go further in their careers

EQ affects everyday decisions that people make; in the workplace, this can mean prioritising tasks to meet deadlines, managing teams successfully and resolving conflict effectively. Employers and hiring managers may also use EQ to help assess which employees could have leadership potential, or who is next in line for a pay rise or promotion.

Writing for Forbes, Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, said “Of all the people we’ve studied at work, we’ve found that 90% of top performers are also high in emotional intelligence. On the flip side, just 20% of bottom performers are high in emotional intelligence. You can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but the chances are slim.”

Training your brain to be more emotionally intelligent

Emotional Intelligence can be developed. As well as working to improve on the five central components above, the tips below may help you improve your EQ:

Reflect on your own emotions. Observe how you interact with people and try to avoid rushing to judgements or assuming stereotypes. Try to put yourself in the position and you’ll be much more understanding of their perspectives and needs.

Think about how your actions affect others. If a decision you have to make effects those around you have a thought as to how they may feel about this. Would you want this to happen to you? If an action you take causes a negative reaction for someone around you, how can you help them deal with this?

Look at how you behave in stressful situations. The ability to stay calm and collected during difficult situations is a highly valued skill and will allow you to be able to asses the situation in a clearer way, most likely leading to a better outcome.

Learn from your criticisms. Instead of taking offence, try to learn from the situation and think, what can I do better next time? If your goal is to improve and get better, don’t let emotions get the best of you.

Although "normal" intelligence is key to success, emotional intelligence is crucial to be able to relate to others and achieve your own goals. Many believe that EQ is at least as important as regular intelligence, and some companies now use emotional intelligence testing to hire new staff.

Want to test your own Emotional Intelligence? Click here!