By: Liz Sheffield
The idea of an intelligence quotient, or IQ, has long been accepted in academia as well as the workplace. In the last 20 years, a different kind of intelligence came to the forefront: emotional IQ.
In general terms, one’s IQ relates to proficiency in or level of knowledge about specific subjects. It’s a measure of one’s cognitive ability. In terms of employment, intelligence can be an indicator of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. An above-average IQ may indicate an employee has the skills and abilities required to innovate and solve complex problems related to work.
Psychologists have realized that now more is required from employees, which is why emotional intelligence in the workplace has gained a lot of attention. Employers have realized that more than one form of intelligence is required to be successful at work. In addition to intellect, the ability to understand and manage emotions positively impacts success.
Indeed, today’s world of work requires that employees have the self-awareness needed to interact, collaborate, and partner much more than ever before. Success in this environment depends not only on cognitive abilities but also on the ability to manage working relationships and demonstrate high emotional intelligence in the workplace.
What is Emotional Intelligence and Why is it Important for Success
Emotions are a fundamental part of human nature. But beyond just possessing emotions, one’s level of emotional intelligence reflects an ability to recognize one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Additionally, emotional IQ is the level of competence someone has to understand the effects of emotions, which then guides and informs behaviors.
To facilitate workplace productivity, the importance of emotional intelligence requires much more than just being aware of feelings. It also requires the ability to assess, act, and respond productively to emotions.
“The key is not to remove emotions from our decision-making process or to pursue some robotic form of existence,” the author of EQ Applied writes. “Instead, you must learn to deal with those emotions in a productive way.”
Why EQ is Important for Success
Positive and negative emotions affect how we think. Joy, hope, and amusement may motivate us to take positive action. Likewise, emotions that are often considered “negative,” such as anger, grief, and fear, can also inspire action. But if action is taken without first identifying and acknowledging those feelings, they can cause damage.
When people learn to acknowledge their feelings, and even embrace them, awareness builds. With awareness, it’s possible to observe how those feelings change and how it influences one’s actions.
One EQ expert recommends the “Three R” approach to emotional intelligence:
- Recognize your strengths and opportunities around emotions. How do your emotions influence how you respond? Do your feelings have an impact on the decisions you make? Are your emotions influencing your interactions with others?
- Read others’ emotions, as well as the environment you’re in. Put yourself in another person’s shoes to try and understand their feelings.
- Respond appropriately to the given situation. Allow others to share their ideas. Acknowledge input from other people, even when you disagree.
After someone comprehends how their emotions affect them, it’s possible to learn how others’ emotions affect them as well. The ability to understand another person’s emotional perspective improves the quality of interactions and works to build stronger relationships.
The importance of emotional intelligence is apparent when considering these high EQ and low EQ comparisons from VerywellMind:
High EQ in business
- Remaining calm under pressure
- Resolving conflicts
- Demonstrating empathy
- Listening to and responding positively to constructive criticism
Low EQ in business
- Not taking personal responsibility
- Communicating passively or aggressively
- Refusing to collaborate with others
- Rejecting others’ opinions
It’s no surprise the employers are no longer asking what is emotional intelligence. Instead, they see the value in employees who demonstrate high levels of emotional intelligence in the workplace. Of course, these are valuable skills for all employees and a requirement for effective employee communication; however, they are of essential importance to those in leadership roles, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
5 Ways to Demonstrate Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
Knowing that demonstrating emotional intelligence in business is important, how can employees apply their skills at work? As noted above, it starts with the three Rs: recognizing one’s emotions, reading others’ emotions, and responding appropriately to emotional situations.
Here are five ways to demonstrate emotional intelligence at work:
- Read the room during meetings. Regardless of whether you’re leading a meeting or attending it, there are opportunities to use emotional intelligence in the workplace meeting. Find ways to encourage open dialogue; demonstrate respect for differing opinions, and express your ideas in a way that others can hear them.
- Receive performance feedback with an open mind. A natural instinct is to become defensive when we receive feedback. When this occurs, try to redirect your response so you can hear and learn from what the other person shares. Breathe, remain calm, and conclude the session by stating you’ll take the feedback into consideration.
- Respect cross-functional viewpoints. Every business unit has its own priorities. Those objectives may differ from one group to another. In situations where cross-functional views aren’t in alignment, don’t let emotions take over. Instead, do what you can to hear other viewpoints while also explaining why and how your group has reached differing viewpoints.
- Communicate in ways that evoke emotional responses. In the past, business communications may have been dry and boring. But today’s smart communicators are using the power of emotions to engage their employee audiences. In particular, your core values communication should be messages that inspire employees and evoke emotional responses from them. Use the power of emotional IQ to engage and empower your workforce.
- Use employee engagement programs to support emotional IQ. As an organization, there are opportunities to use emotional IQ in how you deliver and create positive employee experiences. In your programs and communication, ensure that personalization is built-in to the employee journey. This allows you to tailor messages and delivery in a customized way that demonstrates respect for individualized needs and exhibits emotional intelligence in the workplace.
These are just a few of the many ways that employees and employers alike can demonstrate and embrace emotional Intelligence in the workplace. For some employees, EQ in business may be a struggle.
In those situations, work with leaders to ensure they’re serving as role models. If you see an organizational gap in emotional intelligence at work, it might be time to offer training courses that will help employees develop these important skills.
Demonstrating emotional intelligence in the workplace empowers colleagues, leaders, and the organization to grasp others’ perspectives. When leaders understand employees’ motivations, they’re equipped to inspire and encourage performance. In organizations where employees’ emotional intelligence is embraced, conflicts aren’t as serious, and they are often addressed in a manner that appeases everyone involved.
Taking the time to assess and establish norms around emotional intelligence in the workplace is a worthwhile endeavor. For as an organization’s capacity for empathy and understanding rise, so do morale and engagement. In short, if emotional intelligence in the workplace is prioritized, it’s possible for organizations to tap into the potential that employees with these skills offer. Conversely, if your workforce lacks the emotional intelligence required, you’ll reap what you sow in a contentious environment that can lead to turnover at best and legal action at worst.