How Important Is Emotional Intelligence In The Workplace?
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Over the past few years, emotional intelligence (“EI”) has become one of the top leadership theories in business. It looks at how well you manage your own emotions as well as those of others to achieve success.
Some say that it is more important than IQ. Others claim that without empathy, there can be no successful relationship or leader-follower bond. Some even say that having high levels of EQ makes you a better employee because you’ll work harder for yourself and other people.
So why are so many big companies investing in training programs on EI? And what does the research tell us about its importance in the workplace?
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of developing your emotional skills and how these benefits apply to you as an individual and professional. We will also look at some things you can do to improve your emotional intelligence right now, whether you’re a student, working full time, or both.
Held back by fear, anger, and ignorance, most people suffer from average emotional intelligence. They are not aware of their own feelings and they cannot identify nor understand those of others.
This lack of awareness impacts every area of our lives, including the workplace. In fact, a survey conducted by The Leadership Excellence Organization found that 89% of respondents said that poor communication was the number one cause of conflict in the workplace.
Why is emotional intelligence important in the workplace?
Over the past few years, there has been a growing emphasis put onto what we refer to as “emotional literacy” or "EI" (short for emotional intelligence). Some even argue that having high levels of EI can be more beneficial than having a higher level of IQ.
Why is this important? Because while cognitive skills like reasoning and thinking are great assets to have, they cannot always supersede your emotions.
We all have feelings and we must learn how to control those feelings in order to live a happy life. This is why it is equally important to develop your sense of emotion regulation.
There are many different theories about what makes someone have high levels of EI, but no one theory completely explains it. However, researchers do agree that things such as being able to recognize your own emotions, being aware of other people's emotions, knowing when to use emotion to motivate others, and using emotions productively are some major factors.
There are many different definitions of emotional intelligence
Recent research has highlighted the importance of not only having high levels of emotional control, but also how to recognize and manage your emotions. This is what some refer to as “self-awareness” or “emotional literacy.”
Studies have shown that people who know how to identify their own feelings and understand why someone else might be feeling a certain way are better job candidates than those who cannot.
They will perform their jobs more effectively and work with others more harmoniously. In fact, it was determined that being able to read and regulate your own emotions makes up a significant part of employee productivity.
Furthermore, researchers found that employees who demonstrated higher levels of self-control were twice as likely to keep their positions compared to colleagues who did not.
Emotional intelligence in the workplace
Over the past few years, emotional quotient (EQ) or emotional intelligence has become increasingly important to employers. Companies are investing in programs that teach employees how to recognize and manage their own emotions as well as those of others.
Many career experts believe that EQ is an essential skill for anyone to possess in order to succeed in the workplace. This includes not only colleagues but also superiors and subordinates as well as customers.
People with higher levels of EQ tend to do better in the workplace because they understand what motivates other people and keep relationships strong through use of emotion. They may put extra effort into motivating others, which could win them respect and reward.
On the flip side, people who lack empathy can be hard to work alongside. You might feel like you’re walking around in silent shock after someone says something hurtful to you or your team.
Some say that being emotionally intelligent is just a quality most people have, while others argue that it should be considered a separate talent — something that some people were born with and others weren’t.
Employees should learn to be empathic
As discussed earlier, emotional intelligence (EI) is one of the most important skills you can develop at work.
And it’s not just for kids — developing your empathy comes with great rewards. A study conducted by organizational psychologist Peter Norton found that employees who practice empathy are more likely to achieve their goals, enjoy their job more, and stay longer within an organization than those who don’t.1
In fact, research suggests that companies that reward empathy produce higher employee productivity, lower turnover, and better customer satisfaction.2
So what types of behaviors constitute as having low levels of EI? Some examples include:
Bashing others or being overly critical without looking into the reasons behind someone else's behavior.
Being easily offended or taking things too seriously.
Not acknowledging mistakes or showing weaknesses.
These behaviors show someone with low levels of EI. They're not only unappealing to watch, but they also may hurt your career because people won't trust you or feel comfortable working with you if you aren't able to demonstrate self-awareness and understanding of other people's emotions.
At its core, EI is about identifying and understanding your own feelings and those of others. It focuses on how you relate emotionally to others and whether you use emotion to help yourself and others succeed.3
You'll find lots of theories and tests about individual differences in EI, but there is no "correct" level.
Employees should learn to be honest
Being able to read other people’s emotions is an important skill for employees. If you notice that your colleague seems depressed, speak with them about their situation and see if they will open up to you.
By listening to what they have to say, you can often figure out why they are feeling down and how best to help them feel better.
It's also worth noting that sometimes colleagues keep things private because they don't want to show their weaknesses to others. By being aware of these vulnerabilities, you'll know how to help them.
If there's something bothering them, ask whether they would like to talk about it or find somewhere more discreet where they can share their thoughts.
Emotions such as sadness, anger and fear can all play a part in workplace relationships so it's helpful to be aware of this.
Employees should learn to be authentic
Over the past few years, emotional intelligence (EI) has become one of the most popular workplace theories. Companies are investing in training programs that teach individuals how to recognize their own emotions and those of others, as well as use these insights to improve relationships with colleagues and leaders.
Many experts agree that improving your EI is an excellent way to boost employee productivity and satisfaction at work. According to a Harvard Business Review article, “the average company loses about $500 per employee due to low trust and cohesion” in the workplace. By increasing levels of empathy and understanding, employees can help each other achieve common goals and reduce conflict.
But does all this talk about emotional literacy make a difference? And what exactly is emotional intelligence, anyway?
First things first: The term ‘emotional intelligence’ isn’t totally standardized. Some researchers refer to it as ‘self-awareness’ or ‘ability to identify and manage emotion,’ while others call it ‘the ability to understand and handle interpersonal relations from both yourself and for others.’
Regardless, there’s no question that people who have higher emotional skills are more successful at work than ones who aren’t. That’s why some companies offer courses in emotional intelligence — they hope to inspire change by changing the culture of the organization.
Here are 5 ways that having high emotional intelligence will win you new friends and keep old ones.
Employees should learn to be assertive
As mentioned earlier, being able to manage your emotions is an essential workplace skill. This is particularly important for those working with colleagues or in leadership positions, where your colleague’s performance can have a big impact on the success of your project or the company.
It also goes without saying that we all have our off days now and then, but when these times occur it is important to keep them brief and work through them as quickly as possible.
Avoid engaging in any kind of power struggle which could potentially cause more damage than before.
Employees should learn to be consistent
Consistency is one of the most important qualities in employees. If you are never in the same mood for work every day, someone else will pick up your slack and do not feel good about themselves for it.
As employers, we strive to create an environment where people feel comfortable coming to work. We want them to enjoy their job and connect with other members of the team.
If they don’t, there can be trouble at home. And while that may seem like a bad thing, missing work because you aren’t feeling well or have something major going on outside of work is just not productive for anyone.
Emotions play a big part in how successful someone is. No matter what career path you take, emotional intelligence (or EQ as some call it) comes into play.
Having high levels of empathy, understanding emotions, and being able to identify and manage ones own emotions is crucial to success. You would know this if you had ever watched the movie The Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
In the movie, two men meet at a beach house and talk about things they wouldn’t normally discuss. They chat about family, past relationships, and anything beyond that realm feels uncomfortable and unnatural.
But by talking about these things, both men find out who the other person really is and begin to develop strong bonds of friendship.