Emotional Intelligence in a Corporate Environment

This article was written by Mr. Mohamed Athif, Director of Human Resources in Kandima Maldives.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

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If emotional intelligence sounds like an oxymoron to you, that’s understandable. We tend to think of our emotions and our intelligence as two separate things. But put them together as emotional intelligence, and it’s essentially a different way to be smart because it’s “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically” according to the dictionary.

Emotional Intelligence is “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships. Emotional intelligence describes abilities distinct from, but complementary to, academic intelligence.” Daniel Goleman (1998)

Why emotional intelligence in the workplace matters?

Of course, emotional intelligence isn’t a standalone secret sauce for a stellar employee, but it is one of the main elements that pairs nicely with skills and experience.

Imagine this: you have two candidates that are equally trained and skilled, but one has much greater emotional intelligence than the other. Choosing the candidate with the higher EQ means an employee who can apply EQ seamlessly across managing teams, connecting with customers, leading cross-team collaborations and resolving workplace conflicts calmly and kindly.

Because almost any business will require interaction with customers or coworkers, employees with high emotional intelligence will mean less friction among and across teams and more effective management. With interpersonal conflicts reduced, think about the increase in productivity your company will likely see.

  1. Improve your self-awareness.
  2. Improve your self-regulation.
  3. Improve your motivation.
  4. Improve your ability to show empathy.
  5. Improve your social skills.

SELF-AWARENESS-Leaders with emotional intelligence are self-aware and able to recognize emotions as they happen. This is a vital skill for leaders, as it helps them obtain a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses without any obstruction. In addition, great leaders are able to perceive emotions as they arise in response to an action or situation. As a result, they are able better able to address problems and handle any future complications.

Are you wondering what self-regulation is?  In essence, it’s the ability to manage your emotions, behaviors and even desires.  Can you control yourself and how you handle situations?  Do your emotions take over?  Are you callous?  Do you tell it like it is?  Or do you know how to deliver messages, so the recipient can hear it and benefit from it?  Despite what you might think, telling it like it is, is not necessarily a good thing.

Motivation is what pushes us to achieve our goals, feel more fulfilled and improve overall quality of life. Daniel Goleman, who developed the concept of Emotional Intelligence in the mid ‘90s, identified four elements that make up motivation: our personal drive to improve and achieve, commitment to our goals, initiative, or readiness to act on opportunities, as well as optimism and resilience.

EMPATHY – One of the most important components of Emotional Intelligence (EI) is Empathy. This word is often used interchangeably with the word Sympathy. While Sympathy refers to an expression of care and concern for someone’s suffering, Empathy is a person’s ability to recognize and share the emotions of another person. Empathy is feeling with someone, while Sympathy is feeling for someone. Perhaps one could say that Empathy is a kind of emotional solidarity. Empathy is crucial to EI because it’s the foundation of good relational skills. To relate, to communicate, to effectively problem solve, we need to be able to get out of our own experience and feel the experience of another.

According to Daniel Goleman, the psychologist and thought leader who popularized Emotional Intelligence, there are three types of empathy: cognitive, emotional, and compassionate.

Cognitive empathy is “simply knowing how the other person feels and what they might be thinking.” It’s understanding someone else, but in an intellectual way. For example, imagine a high school guidance counselor. It’s her job to meet with students and help them through a rough time in a class, or deal with a bully, or submit college applications. She listens, understands, asks thoughtful questions. If she’s a good counselor, her understanding is accurate and enables her to motivate students or bring them to their own solutions.

Emotional empathy, on the other hand, is when you “feel physically along with the other person, as though their emotions were contagious.”

The third type of empathy, compassionate empathy, is when we “not only understand a person’s predicament and feel with them, but are spontaneously moved to help, if needed.”

SOCIAL SKILLS – Social competence takes many forms – it’s more than just being chatty. These abilities range from being able to tune into another person’s feelings and understand how they think about things, to being a great collaborator and team player, to expertise at negotiation. All these skills are learned in life. We can improve on any of them we care about, but it takes time, effort, and perseverance. It helps to have a model, someone who embodies the skill we want to improve. But we also need to practice whenever a naturally occurring opportunity arises – and it may be listening to a teenager, not just a moment at work.

How emotional intelligence in the workplace influences company culture?

Emotional intelligence (or the lack thereof) can make a major difference in your company culture. Emotionally intelligent managers won’t need to resort to yelling or other belittling, which will save your company from becoming the toxic work environment that inspires employees to quit left and right. Emotionally intelligent people will naturally create a more serene, respectful, and conflict-free culture among their co-workers. Sales and marketing teams will be better able to intuit what your customers really want because they will have the ability to identify with the people buying your service or product thanks to their higher capacity for empathy.

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