How to Use Your Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
Learn how to become happier, more productive and successful at work through emotional intelligence.
Developing your emotional intelligence (otherwise known as emotional quotient or EQ) is essential for a successful working life. When you have healthy levels of emotional intelligence in the workplace, you're better able to build strong relationships with coworkers, resolve conflicts and manage challenging situations more effectively.
When our emotions are out of balance, they change how our brains perform – diminishing our decision-making abilities, cognitive faculties, and interpersonal skills. But if we can learn to understand and control our emotions (and respect and interpret the emotions of others), we can achieve more success and happiness in our professional and personal lives.
You may already know someone who is in complete control of their emotions. They're able to keep their cool in a crisis, and they make decisions thoughtfully, no matter how stressful the situation is. Is one of your coworkers good at reading people's emotions and knows how to inspire and motivate others? This means that they have high emotional intelligence.
So, why is emotional intelligence important? Let's look in more detail at what EQ is, why it's essential in the workplace, and how you can develop and demonstrate yours to increase your hireability and help you become a more productive, valuable, and fulfilled worker.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and control our own emotions and to identify, recognize and influence the feelings of others. When you master emotional intelligence in the workplace, you can harness these skills and apply them to situations when you may be under pressure, such as:
- handling challenging interpersonal relationships
- meeting tight deadlines
- interviewing for a new job
- working through setbacks
- navigating change
- dealing with a work conflict
How Can You Use Your Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace?
What are the characteristics of emotional intelligence at work, and how does it manifest in your jobs? EQ, according to Daniel Goleman, an internationally known psychologist and author, has five key elements that, when properly managed, help you attain a higher level of emotional intelligence so you can be more productive and happier at work. The following are those elements, along with examples of how they can be applied in the workplace:
The ability to identify and understand your thoughts, impulses, and feelings is an essential part of EQ. However, it's equally important to be aware of how your moods, actions, and emotions affect those around you. With this in mind, the next time you encounter a challenging coworker or receive criticism, take time to listen and reflect before you react. Step outside for a few minutes, take some deep breaths and notice what you are feeling in an objective way.
Having control over your feelings and behavior is crucial in any situation because your emotions strongly affect your relationship with coworkers, superiors, and clients. While we're not suggesting that you hide or suppress how you truly feel, be mindful of the environments and situations that trigger you. An effective strategy is to establish a self-communication rule. Write down on paper, "Whatever happens, I stay calm, and I do not react emotionally." Keep this visible and the next time you feel defensive or heated, repeat this mantra as many times as necessary to fight the urge to blow a fuse.
Self-motivation is greatly affected by your emotions. Because feeling positive and satisfied with your work can lead to feeling more motivated about accomplishing tasks. People who have emotional intelligence in the workplace are driven by inner fulfillment and happiness rather than external rewards such as money, fame, and power. Furthermore, if you're motivated, you can help inspire others in the workplace. For example, you might encourage and uplift a coworker struggling with a challenging project or task.
Having the capacity to understand how others are feeling is crucial to emotional intelligence. But it also involves how you respond to people based on this information. If you have strong empathy skills, you can easily see things from different perspectives, which can help support a more inclusive workplace. For instance, if you're working in a team, try to be flexible, show your support, build on your team's strengths and avoid making assumptions.
Even if you're not a natural-born "people person," it is possible to practice and develop social skills such as effective communication, respect, and active listening. If you're uncomfortable with social interactions at work, try building your self-confidence and look for opportunities to practice your skills in groups. You could help resolve a workplace conflict or take a few moments to listen to a coworker who needs support. And remember to communicate your ideas in a way that is relatable and easy to digest.
Why is Emotional Intelligence Important at Work?
Emotional intelligence plays a vital role in many aspects of work and can help you in areas such as job performance, relationships, career success, and mental health. Now you know what emotional intelligence is, let's explore some of the benefits of using your EQ in the workplace:
- Positive interactions: Using effective communication and empathy, you'll find it easier to foster healthy relationships with colleagues, supervisors, and clients. Understanding others and interacting with an optimistic attitude can also boost your chances of making meaningful connections and increase morale in the workplace.
- Motivating others: When you have high emotional intelligence in the workplace and can read and understand your coworker's emotions, you're able to inspire and encourage them to become more productive. This is especially important if you're in a leadership role where you'll be responsible for guiding and teaching others.
- Career prospects: A high EQ is a desirable trait in the workplace, especially as it correlates to job performance. If you are looking for a new career or even a promotion in your current job, you can use your emotional intelligence to increase your hireability and potentially open doors to new opportunities in your field.
How Can You Improve Your Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace?
The good news is that how we respond to ourselves and others can be significantly improved with practice and dedication. Here are some ways that you can increase your emotional intelligence at work to inspire your colleagues, promote a positive environment and become happier and more productive:
Pay Attention to Yourself
Improvements can be made by simply noticing your emotions and self-talk. Taking a moment to acknowledge and name your feelings, then pausing to reconsider your reactions is an integral step toward achieving EQ.
Ask for Feedback
Receiving constructive feedback from those you trust can help tremendously. You could ask a friend how you respond to challenging situations or how adaptable you are. Use this feedback to understand better how others perceive you and find ways to make a positive change.
Like a muscle, the more you work on your emotional intelligence, the stronger it becomes. Get into the habit of daily mindful practice - whether it's a random act of kindness, listening to a colleague without judgment, or offering empathetic words to someone undergoing stress. Your effort and commitment will help you grow in your career while inspiring others to do the same.
Use Your Emotional Intelligence to Advance Your Career
Now that we've shown you how to use your emotional intelligence in the workplace, you can feel confident in creating a more optimistic environment. Maybe you're not satisfied with your current job and are looking to make a change? Monster can help you on your journey. Simply create your profile and start clicking on the jobs that you like. We'll get your resume in front of recruiters and send you expert career advice and workplace insights.