As they do in every area of our lives, our emotions can influence the way we act and react in the workplace.
Emotional intelligence is about developing the skills to better understand both our own emotions as well as those around us and effectively managing how we react to them so that we can be more productive in our work life. The objective is not to suppress or ignore difficult emotions or feelings but rather learning to handle them intelligently when they arise. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is what makes the difference between top performing leaders and the rest. Managers with strong EIs are more measurably more successful in recruitment, employee retention, productivity, and customer service.
But EI is not just for Managers and Executives it is critical for success at any level in your career. If you want to rise to higher levels of responsibility in your job, having a strong EI is essential. Indeed, the benefits of improving your EI is not just confined to your career. Research has shown that a stronger EI translates to into higher levels of happiness, better mental and physical health and improved relationships.
So, how can you increase and improve this vital life skill and put emotional intelligence to work for you?
1 Develop Your Emotional Self-Awareness
1 Develop Your Emotional Self-Awareness
Emotions can cause people to display uncharacteristic, sometimes counterproductive behaviour; Self-awareness is the ability to understand and interpret your own emotions, moods and inner drives, and how your resultant behaviour impacts on others.
Developing self-awareness can also help you identify the emotional states of others, enabling you to look beyond their words or actions to identify causes and meanings and causes. Logically if you don't understand your own motivations and behaviours, it's nearly impossible to develop an understanding of others.
Action points for developing self-awareness:
- Learn to use three word sentences beginning with “I feel” – Using this technique you will be able to identify to yourself how you feel and increase your self-awareness.
- Take time during each day to recognise how you feel and identify the source of your emotions, rather than the action or motives of others.
- Remind yourself that emotions are volatile and fleeting and ought not to be the foundation of communications or decision-making.
- Reflect upon and learn how your negative emotions such as frustration, disengagement, anger or jealously will have impacted upon your colleagues and even clients.
- Identify your fears and desires – This action will help you be more aware of what is concerning you and what drives you, increasing your conscious awareness over these fears and desires.
- Examine how you react to stressful situations. Do you become upset every time there's a delay or something doesn't happen the way you want?
2 Self-regulation or emotional self-control
Self-regulation or emotional self-control is the ability to control or redirect impulsive actions and emotions that negatively impact your potential for growth and leadership. It is the next step after developing emotional awareness. Emotional Self-Control can be summarised as the ability to “rise above” petty arguments, jealousies, and frustrations by learning to control emotional influences and not allowing them to dictate your behaviour.
People who can exercise emotional self-control think before they act and then not to make impulsive decisions. By developing emotional self-control, you will be able to consistently make valuable contributions and sound decisions thus building your reputation as a dependable team player.Action points to improve your emotional self-control
- Avoid the herding instinct to be part of a group by engaging in office politics, drama, or conflict.
- When a situation is emotionally-charged or difficult, step back and take time before responding or making a decision.
- Set time aside to reflect upon your feelings. If you find yourself in a difficult or charged situation where your emotions are high, ask yourself what is the meaning that your attaching to the event or situation. Look at other possible meanings and alternatives.
- Accept that just as in life uncertainty, frustration and disappointment are simply part of all work environments. Rather than complaining or disengaging, brain storm solutions or alternative strategies and present them in a professional manner.
- Don’t join the blame game where you point your finger at everyone and everything except yourself. Hold yourself accountable learn to admit your mistakes.
- Stay focused on yourself and on the things that you can control, not on the things you can’t.
- Identify ways you can better manage your emotions avoiding knee-jerk reactions or making inappropriate or off-putting comments.
3 Improve your ability to show empathy.
Empathy is a natural offshoot of developing emotional awareness; it is the ability to step outside of your personal experience to understand an issue from someone else's perspective. By developing empathy, you demonstrate that you are skilled in treating people with respect, kindness, dignity and professionalism. People with empathy are good at recognising the feelings of others, even where those feelings are not immediately obvious. If you want to earn the respect and loyalty of your colleagues or team, then show them you care by being empathic.Action points to improve your empathy.
- Live by the Golden Rule; treat others the way you want to be treated in all situations.
- It's easy to support your own point of view so put yourself in the other person’s shoes - view situations from their point of view or perspective.
- Develop your active listening skills and reflect back what the other person is saying, so it’s clear you both understand what’s being communicated.
- Actively ask how they feel for example on scale of 0-10. This provides then with the opportunity express their feelings and helps you develop empathy and understanding.
- Validate the other persons concerns or feeling by acknowledge that you understand where they’re coming from and that their view point has merit.
- Avoid the trap of thinking of a response, while others are speaking instead of actively listening.
- Double check your own attitude and motives. In any discussion are you just trying to score point and win the argument or are you seeking the best outcome or solution, even if it’s not your suggestion?
4 Improve your motivation
Motivation is your passion and enthusiasm for your work and career for reasons that go beyond money or status. Instead people who have high EI are have a passion to fulfil their own inner needs and goals. They are driven by energy and fulfilment in their work and pursue their goals with persistence.Action points to improve your motivation
- Every time you face a challenge, or even a failure, try to find at least one good thing about the situation.
- Identify when and stop yourself speaking and thinking negatively, pause and consciously reframe your thoughts and words. Change your negative thoughts and words, even if you have to fake it at first.
- It's easy to forget what you really love about your career so identify what you love about your job and the bigger reason why you find your role fulfilling.
- Remember that people are drawn to positive, energised, and inspiring people. By improve your levels of motivation, you’ll get more attention from colleagues, decision makers and clients.
- Set inspiring achievable goals for yourself and determine specific actions to reach them. Reward yourself as your reach key milestones and goals.
5 Improve Your Social Skills
Being able to interact well with others is another important aspect of emotional intelligence but does that mean people who are shy or introverted don’t have a high an EI. Social skills take many forms – it’s more than just being friendly. Social skills range from active listening, verbal communication skills, nonverbal communication skills, leadership, and persuasiveness. Demonstrating good social skills in the workplace enables you to be more proficient at managing relationships, building networks and connections with employees. Leaders with good Social Skills are often very good communicators, good at conflict resolution and communicating the vision to team members. They set the example, for others to follow by demonstrating the acceptable behaviours and values.
Action points to improve your social skills.
- One of the best ways to improve social skills is by becoming an effective communicator.
- Learn and understand conflict resolution - Good Leaders must know how to resolve conflicts between their team members, customers, or vendors.
- Learn how to praise others, you can inspire the loyalty of your team simply by giving praise when it's earned.
- Understand the person you’re talking to. You can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to interacting with everyone in the workplace.
- People who master social skills can leverage it develop lasting workplace relationships.