Emotional intelligence, sometimes referred to as EQ (from emotional quotient), refers to a person’s ability to recognize, understand, manage and reason about the environment through emotions. It is a critical skill when it comes to interpersonal communication. It is a hot topic not only in psychology, but also in the business world.

What is Emotional Intelligence? Goleman was right…

The term was coined by psychologists in the 1990s. Its use quickly spread to other fields, including business, education and popular culture. Psychologists Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, two of the leading researchers on the subject, defined emotional intelligence as the ability to recognize and understand emotions in oneself and others. Contrary to appearances, this is a difficult ability to master, which also includes using it to make decisions, solve problems and communicate with others.

According to Salovey and Mayer, there are four different levels of emotional intelligence:

  • perception of emotions,
  • reasoning with emotions,
  • understanding emotions,
  • managing emotions.

In the past, emotion and intelligence have often been seen as opposing each other. This field studies how cognitive processes and emotions interact and influence the way all people think. So let’s consider how emotions and moods, such as happiness, anger, fear and sadness, affect how people behave and make decisions.

Why is it EQ, not IQ, that is important for success?

Interest in the psychology of emotions and the concept of emotional intelligence arose with the publication in 1995 of Daniel Goleman’s book “Emotional Intelligence. “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Means More Than IQ.” In this book, Goleman sought to prove that emotional intelligence is crucial in predicting success in life in any field. Emotional competence, he argued, also plays a particularly important role in the workplace. After all, that’s where I come into contact with people, too.

The concept quickly attracted public attention, and was picked up most quickly by human resource professionals and business leaders. Researchers suggest that emotional intelligence affects how well employees interact with teammates, and EQ also plays a role in how employees handle stress and conflict. It also affects overall productivity at work. Other studies have linked emotional intelligence to job satisfaction. The link does exist.

Studies and research have shown that employees with higher EQ scores are, among other things, better on tests of interpersonal functioning, leadership skills and stress management.

Goleman suggested that while traditional intelligence is linked to leadership success, it is not enough on its own. People who are successful at work are not only intelligent (high IQ). They also have high EQ. Emotional intelligence, however, is not just for CEOs and senior managers. It’s a trait that is important and needed at every stage of a career, from students looking for an internship to experienced workers hoping to take on a management position. If you want to succeed in the workplace and climb the career ladder, emotional intelligence is critical to your success.

Emotional intelligence in practice. What gives in the workplace?

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  • Make better decisions and solve problems

  • Keep cool under pressure

  • Resolve conflicts

  • Have more empathy

  • They listen, consider and respond to constructive criticism

  • They play the role of victim or avoid responsibility for mistakes

  • Have a passive or aggressive communication style

  • They refuse to work in a team

  • Are overly critical of others or disregard their opinions

How to become more emotionally intelligent?

While emotional skills may come naturally to some people, there are things that anyone can cultivate to improve their ability to understand and deal with emotions. This can be especially helpful in the workplace, where relationships and business decisions are generally based on interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication.

Factors such as upbringing and personality play a large role in the development of emotional intelligence, but it is a skill that can be improved through effort and practice.

One study conducted in 2011 found that participants who trained in key emotional competencies showed sustained improvements in emotional intelligence. There were also improvements in physical and mental well-being, better social relationships and lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

So, if you are interested in improving your emotional intelligence skills to increase your performance in the workplace, take steps and try to expand your skills in the five basic categories of emotional intelligence:

  • self-awareness,
  • self-regulation,
  • social skills,
  • empathy,
  • intrinsic motivation.

Important to be more self-aware

One of the first steps toward using emotional intelligence skills in the workplace is to practice recognizing one’s own emotions. Self-awareness includes being aware of various aspects of yourself, including your emotions and feelings. It is one of the basic components of emotional intelligence. To recognize one’s emotions and understand what triggers them, one must first be self-aware.

Let’s pay attention to how we feel. How do these emotions affect how we react? Does what we feel affect the decisions we make or the way we interact with others? When we reflect on these questions, we may find that we become more aware of our emotions and the role they play in our daily lives.

Let’s take stock of emotional strengths and weaknesses. How well do we communicate with others? Do we often feel impatient, angry or irritated? What are ways to deal effectively with these feelings? Recognizing weaknesses allows you to investigate how to deal with them.

Let’s remember that emotions are fleeting. A co-worker may annoy us or a boss may give us a frustrating task to perform. Before we react, let’s remember that these things are temporary. Making rash decisions based on strong emotions can be detrimental to long-term goals and success.

Exercise of self-regulation

Goleman identified the process of self-regulation as a critical part of emotional intelligence. Being aware of your emotions is an important first step, but you also need to be able to manage them. People who have self-regulation skills can adapt well and quickly to changing situations. They don’t lock everything in, they wait for the right ways to express their emotions instead of reacting impulsively.

To elevate your self-regulation skills in the workplace:

  • look for techniques to release stress in the workplace. Having a hobby outside of work is a great place to start. Physical exercise is also a healthy way to relieve stress,
  • let’s always keep a cool head,
  • let’s accept the fact that we can’t control everything,
  • let’s look for helpful ways to react that won’t fuel the fire,
  • let’s think before deciding. Emotions can overwhelm us in the heat of the moment. We can make a calmer, more rational choice if we allow ourselves enough time to consider all the possibilities.

Improving social skills

Research on the psychology of emotions suggests that people with high EQ also have strong social skills. Because they can recognize other people’s emotions, they are able to respond appropriately to the situation at hand. Social skills are also highly valued in the workplace, as they lead to better communication and a more positive company culture.

Employees and leaders with strong social skills can build relationships with co-workers and effectively communicate their ideas. People with good social skills are not only great teammates, but can also take on leadership roles when needed.

To enhance your social skills:

  • Let’s listen carefully to what others have to say. This does not mean just passively listening to what others say. Active listening involves showing attention, asking questions and giving feedback. Whether you are a manager, a supervisor or just a team member, active listening can show that you are passionate about current projects and willing to work with others to help the group and the company achieve its goals,
  • pay attention to non-verbal communication. The signals people send through body language can tell a lot about what they really think,
  • Let’s expand our persuasion skills. Being able to exert influence in the workplace and convince team members and superiors to listen to our ideas as well can go a long way in advancing your career,
  • Let’s avoid office drama. Let’s try to stay away from the petty office politics that sometimes engulf the workplace, but remember that conflicts can’t always be avoided. Let’s focus on listening to what others have to say and investigate how to solve problems and minimize tensions.

Empathy, empathy and more empathy!

Emotionally intelligent people are good at stepping into another person’s shoes and understanding how they feel. Empathy is more than just recognizing what others are feeling. It also includes how to respond to those emotions. It’s a fantastic and useful skill that is useful anytime, anywhere.

In the workplace, empathy allows you to understand the differences between co-workers and superiors. It also allows you to recognize who has power and how it affects the behaviors, feelings and interactions that result from those relationships.

See things from the other person’s perspective. Every so often, this can be difficult, especially if we feel that the other person is wrong. But instead of letting disagreements turn into serious conflicts, let’s take the time to look at the situation from the other person’s perspective. This can be a great first step toward finding a middle ground between two opposing viewpoints.

Let’s also pay attention to how we respond to others. Do we give them a chance to share ideas? Do we value their input, even if we disagree with them? By letting others know that their efforts are valuable, we often make everyone more willing to compromise. And that’s ultimately a benefit to everyone.

Intrinsic Motivation. Exercises and examples

Another key component of emotional intelligence is intrinsic motivation. People who have strong EQ tend to be more motivated to achieve goals for their own sake. Instead of seeking external rewards, they want to do things because they find them rewarding and are passionate about what they do.

Money, status and recognition are great, but people who are successful at work are usually motivated by more than worldly goods. They are passionate about what they do. They are committed to their work, love to take on new challenges, and their enthusiasm can seem contagious. They don’t give up in the face of obstacles and are able to inspire others to work hard and persevere toward their goals.

Let’s focus on what we love about our work. There are probably things we love and things we hate. Let’s try to focus on the aspects of our work that give us pleasure, such as the sense of accomplishment that comes after completing a major project or helping clients pursue their own goals. Let’s identify these elements of our work and draw inspiration from them.

Let’s also try to always maintain a positive attitude. Optimistic people in the workplace tend to inspire and motivate others. Adopting this kind of attitude can help us to be positive about our work.

Emotional intelligence plays an important role not only in well-being, but also in success in the workplace. Fortunately, there are a number of actionable steps and exercises that we can take directly from the psychology of emotions. They will allow us to improve our EQ and develop greater emotional competence, and this will certainly translate into improved performance at work, the quality of our relationships with others and, ultimately, the key thing – professional success.