Emotional intelligence in the workplace: Why it matters!

Since its inception in the 1990s, emotional intelligence has aroused widespread interest and gained traction in domains other than psychology, particularly in the business world. In fact, it’s  argued that emotional intelligence is just as important as intelligence quotient (IQ) when it comes to happiness, high productivity, efficiency and success in the workplace. This claim is based on the premise that  emotional intelligence bridges the gap between cognition and emotion, thereby enhancing resilience, motivation, empathy, reasoning, stress management, communication, and the capacity to recognize and handle a wide range of social situations and conflicts. As a result, workplace performance and professional success – and even employee wellness, although being traditionally assumed to be a function of one’s cognitive quotient, – are actually corollaries to one’s emotional intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (abbreviated as EI or EQ for emotional quotient) is defined as “the ability to perceive, analyze, and manage our emotions while also recognizing how our emotions influence the feelings of others.” While some research suggests that emotional intelligence may be taught and enhanced, others argue that it is an inherited trait. The concept of emotional intelligence is believed to have arisen from Darwin’s idea that emotional expressiveness is essential for survival.

Since its inception in the 1990s, emotional intelligence has aroused widespread interest and gained traction in domains other than psychology, particularly in the business world. In fact, it’s  argued that emotional intelligence is just as important as intelligence quotient (IQ) when it comes to happiness, high productivity, efficiency and success in the workplace. This claim is based on the premise that  emotional intelligence bridges the gap between cognition and emotion, thereby enhancing resilience, motivation, empathy, reasoning, stress management, communication, and the capacity to recognize and handle a wide range of social situations and conflicts. As a result, workplace performance and professional success – and even employee wellness, although being traditionally assumed to be a function of one’s cognitive quotient, – are actually corollaries to one’s emotional intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (abbreviated as EI or EQ for emotional quotient) is defined as “the ability to perceive, analyze, and manage our emotions while also recognizing how our emotions influence the feelings of others.” While some research suggests that emotional intelligence may be taught and enhanced, others argue that it is an inherited trait. The concept of emotional intelligence is believed to have arisen from Darwin’s idea that emotional expressiveness is essential for survival.

What are the elements of emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is commonly defined by the following characteristics:

Self-awareness: is about knowing yourself. Your flaws, strengths, drivers, values, and effect on others — in other words, the elements that drive excellent intuition. In reality, this would manifest as self-assurance and a desire to learn from constructive criticism. Self-awareness is the first step toward introspective self-evaluation since it allows us to recognize behavioral and emotional characteristics of our psychological composition that we may then modify.

Self-management/ regulation: The ability to control and redirect disruptive emotions and moods. Consider the attributes of dependability, honesty, and changeability. Rather than letting your emotions paralyze you, it means harnessing your positive emotions and linking them with your passions. Experts in self-control thrive in conflict, adapt well to change, and are more willing to take responsibility.

Motivation: Motivation is defined as the ability to motivate oneself, with the goal of gaining internal or self-gratification rather than outward praise or reward. A person who is emotionally intelligent and motivated has a passion for what they do, optimism, and a desire to improve. Individuals who are able to inspire themselves in this manner are more dedicated and goal-oriented.

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to identify and understand how others are feeling and to take their sentiments into account while making decisions in social circumstances. Empathy also enables a person to comprehend the forces that shape relationships.

Social skills: The capacity to regulate other people’s emotions through emotional knowledge and then using that understanding to develop rapport and connect with people using skills like active listening and verbal and nonverbal communication.

Has emotional intelligence made any difference in the workplace?

Interest in emotion psychology and the concept of emotional intelligence grew after Daniel Goleman’s book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” was published in 1995. In the book, Goleman argued that emotional intelligence was critical for predicting life success. The key point made by Goleman is that IQ is not the only factor that influences professional success; Emotional Intelligence is an important non-cognitive skill. According to Goleman, emotional intelligence is a “collection of talents” rather than a personality trait.  Among other things, he stated that the EQ skill set encompasses self-motivation, social ability, empathy, and impulse control.

In recent times, emotional intelligence in the workplace is defined as the ability of professionals, particularly leaders and managers, to detect their own and others’ emotions, distinguish between different sentiments, and adapt their emotions and reactions to achieve their objectives. In short, emotional intelligence in the workplace refers to the set of skills and traits that helps individuals lead effectively at work.

Why is emotional intelligence such a prized quality in the workplace? According to one survey of recruiting managers, nearly 75% of respondents said they valued an employee’s emotional intelligence (EQ) more than their IQ. Employee performance is influenced in a variety of ways by emotional intelligence, and below are some of them:

It enhances job performance

Managing emotions is one aspect of emotional intelligence. This may boost job performance by assisting people in remaining calm and thinking clearly in order to develop positive relationships and achieve their objectives. There is an undeniable correlation between emotional intelligence and how senior executives manage their employees: managers with higher emotional intelligence can not only manage their own stress, but also recognize and resolve stress in others.

Dealing with stress

We all have hectic days in the workplace; it is perfectly normal and entirely tolerable if you have the necessary abilities. An employee with a high level of Emotional Intelligence has enough self-awareness to detect negative feelings and behave appropriately to prevent them from escalating. Uncontrolled and confused emotions might make us more vulnerable to other mental health concerns, such as stress, anxiety, and depression.

Improved decision making

Understanding our emotions and why we experience them can have a significant impact on our ability to make decisions. As a result, individuals with high emotional intelligence may easily avoid emotional biases in their decision-making processes, whereas employees with low emotional intelligence may suffer worry, which can lead to poor decisions. It is important to note that it is not about completely removing emotions from the decision-making process; rather, it is about reducing their impact.

Better communication

Our ability to recognize and comprehend our own emotions can help us recognize and comprehend the sentiments of others. When it comes to workplace communication, and more especially, workplace conflict resolution, those with higher emotional intelligence are more inclined to approach dispute resolution collaboratively, working with others to achieve success.

Encourages collaboration, empathy, and teamwork

Employees can avoid a poisonous “every man for himself” environment by making compassionate offers of assistance, remaining vigilant for opportunities to surrender when an issue is more important to someone else than to themselves, and simply demonstrating interest in one another’s work and lives.

The days of stern hyper-professionalism are no longer with us. The relevance of emotional intelligence in the workplace has long been acknowledged, with many experts believing that it has a substantial impact on an employee’s health and well-being.

So, as a recruitment manager / firm, how often do you prioritize EQ when hiring new staff?  Share your thoughts and leave us a message!

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