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Benefits of Improving Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace and Beyond

What is Emotional Intelligence?

A person’s Emotional Intelligence, often abbreviated as EQ or EI, has recently been suggested to be more important in determining a person’s likelihood for success than the traditional IQ measurement. Psychology Today states that emotional intelligence typically refers to an individual’s ability to do the following:

  1. Recognize and understand one’s own emotions

  2. Identify, label, and discriminate between emotions in oneself and in others

  3. Use this emotional awareness to influence relationships, thinking, and behavior

How can a higher EQ improve my life?

Self-awareness and emotional awareness (the ability to recognize and understand the emotion you’re feeling) can help with self-confidence and having a realistic view of yourself. Self-confidence is a great skill to have in the workplace. According to a Forbes article on increasing confidence at work, self-confidence can “help you get outside your comfort zone and allow you to achieve new goals--all of which are valued characteristics of successful workers”.

This awareness also naturally leads into emotional regulation, meaning you’re less likely to have a knee-jerk reaction to a strong emotion and instead are able to take your emotion down a notch, according to Psychology Today. The workplace can bring unexpected and stressful situations, which undoubtably lead to increased emotional activity, and so having the skills to regulate emotions internally before reacting externally will create more positive situations with a lower likelihood for escalation.

Higher emotional intelligence has also been linked to motivation. Psychology Today asserts that people with a high EQ are “connected to who they are and what they value in life, which are foundational for prioritizing and reaching any objective or goal”. Essentially, emotional intelligence helps you identify what matters to you in life. Knowing what’s important to you is linked to increased motivation, productivity, and organization – all of which is likely to lead to higher job satisfaction.

Further, the below illustration from the Industrial Psychiatry Journal outlines how emotional intelligence - both of an individual and of a larger group - is related to improved organizational effectiveness.

How can I practice emotional intelligence?

Here are some helpful recommendations from Forbes on improving your emotional connections at work to get you started:

  1. Active Listening. You and one other person spend 30 minutes (preferably outside and on a walk) talking, but with some rules. Divide the time into two 15-minute segments where one person is talking for 15 minutes and the other person is only allowed to ask questions (no commenting or telling their own stories), and then switch.

  2. Self Assessment. Get to know your strengths and weaknesses by doing a SWOT analysis, Strengthsfinder, or a similar assessment.

  3. People Watch. Take some time to observe your environment and the people around you. By looking at peoples’ body language, listening to what they say, and noticing what they do, you are practicing recognizing other peoples’ emotions.

The Takeaway:

EQ isn’t just for the workplace however; the potential benefits of working on your EQ are far reaching. According to the foreword of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, by understanding the true meaning of emotional intelligence and learning how to manage it, we will be able to better leverage all the education, experiences, and intelligence we’ve accrued over the years. So, not only will higher emotional intelligence allow you to flourish as a productive and effective employee, but it will also lead to improved relationships (both inside and outside of work) and lead to greater overall happiness and success.

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