For a long time, researchers and society at large did not think that what we now call emotional intelligence was important to our productivity and success in the work world. The conventional way of thinking was that you showed up to your workplace, did your work, got paid monthly, or biweekly and that was it. There were no ties to whether the satisfaction you derived from your work contributed to your happiness and how that affected your overall health. Thanks to advances in psychological research, however, we now know that psychological aspects of life, like being emotionally intelligent and having grit, play an important role in how people achieve work-life balance and ultimately, on a person’s health.
In fact, more than a person’s IQ (intelligence quotient) or the grade point average they finished college with, researchers are finding that emotional intelligence and grit will play a significant role in how successful a person becomes in their career.
Emotional intelligence, (sometimes called emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways that improve how you handle stress, overcome conflict and navigate relationships. In this post, we’ll go over three crucial ways to become more emotionally intelligent so that you can thrive at work.
Three crucial ways to improve your emotional intelligence
The first step to improving your emotional intelligence is to know yourself. When you use self-awareness in a constructive way, it improves your overall psychological health. And it makes you become more empathetic and more productive at work. Here’s what self-awareness can help you do.
- You will identify your strengths. Thanks to several personality tests like Myers-Briggs, people know how to identify their strengths but usually, these are for entertainment purposes. Knowing your strengths can help you hone those strengths so you can use them to your advantage at work. If you’re a manager, doing this for yourself will also teach you to notice the strengths of the people you manage and help you assign the right tasks to the right people within your team.
- You will identify your weaknesses. This is as equally important as identifying your strengths.
- Increasing your self-awareness also helps with self-regulation. Research shows that becoming more self-aware will help you take more personal responsibility for your actions. In a work environment where it’s easy to place the blame on someone else for perceived failures, knowing when to take personal responsibility is important.
- Becoming self-aware increases your creativity at work.
- Another benefit of becoming self-aware is that it boosts your self-esteem because you will more likely be operating in your strengths and performing excellently as a result of focusing on those.
Practice active listening
Learning how to listen to both verbal and non-verbal cues is important to develop if you want to improve your emotional intelligence. In fact, when it comes to non-verbal cues (what we sometimes call “body language”), it can carry as much as 93% more impact than the words we speak. These cues include body movements, body orientation, and facial expressions.
Imagine your co-worker storms into your office with pursed lips, a furrowed brow and red face. You ask her “Is everything alright?” and she snaps back “Everything is perfect.” Which are you more likely to believe?
Chances are you will not believe that she is fine because her body language is communicating the exact opposite. This example is on the obvious side but in general, being able to read a person’s body language as part of “listening” can do a number of things.
- If you are able to correctly “listen” to co-workers, you show more empathy.
- Listening is important in conflict resolution. If your co-worker feels heard and you also understand what they are saying because you’ve listened, you’re more likely to resolve conflicts.
Another important aspect of listening is to not listen so you can respond with prepared answers. The key is to listen to what the other is communicating and respond to that instead.
Handle stressful situations like a pro
No matter who you are, stress is bound to affect you in one way or the other. Emotionally intelligent people don’t deny that they are experiencing a stressful situation. How much stress you are experiencing has an effect on your mental and physical health.
During stressful situations, an emotionally intelligent person is able to:
- Identify triggers that led to the stressful situation.
- Remove those triggers.
- Seek how the situation can be made less stressful next time especially if the triggers cannot be removed.
- Identify the feelings associated with the stressful situation and manage those appropriately.
- Speak to the right people about the stress/triggers so they can receive the help they need.
Crucial Skills Emotionally Intelligent People Have
The goal of increasing your emotional intelligence is to help you thrive at work and ultimately to build a positive working environment and culture. Developing the three skills above will put anybody on the right path to doing this.