Role of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Empathy and social skills are social intelligence, the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence. That’s why they look alike”.Daniel Goleman

In the past when stress levels were lower and people seemed more at ease with themselves with those around them and the people they worked with, intelligence and capabilities were the traits that were important. However, now with frenzied working hours and cut-throat competitiveness people are almost always on edge and tend to be only concerned with their own problems and think of ways to ‘save their back’. It is in these extreme circumstances that emotional intelligence acquires a very important status. Companies stress on the fact that the people they employ must be team players and are able to contribute positively to the work environment. In addition, it is in the best interest of each person working in a company that they maintain cordial and pleasant working relationships with their co-workers in order to have better work output and also do work that is recognized and rewarded by the management of the company they work in. Emotional intelligence is therefore now a commanding and driving force for any organization.

What is emotional intelligence all about and why is it so important in our daily lives and our workplace? Companies whose employees are high on emotional intelligence are motivated, inclined to grow and be leaders, display high productivity and also share the company’s values and vision. On a personal level, employees who have a high emotional intelligence are less stressed, confident, happy, more likely to be amiable with their fellow-workers and are highly effective in whatever they do. Emotional intelligence makes people better – it helps them recognize their own emotions, they are able to control their negative emotions and reactions better and are able to respond positively even to external situations that might not be so favourable. People with high emotional intelligence are better placed to gauge the emotions and feelings of those they work and interact with and this enables them to understand others better thereby forging stronger relationships. In an environment where emotional intelligence is at play, there are fewer conflicts and situations that can be potentially damaging. Co-workers relate better to each other and would even look out for one another – for example covering up for someone who is ill and not at work, such that the work does not suffer and neither does the ill co-worker need to be stressed about unfinished tasks.

The fact is that people who are less stressed have better physical health too. With emotional intelligence one is able to balance everyday situations – some good and other bad – and make the most of them. In the workplace, people who are physically healthier will not only perform better but will also fall sick less thereby curbing absenteeism and loss of man-hours.  Office workers with high emotional intelligence are less anxious and therefore have a more positive outlook, not just towards their co-workers but also towards life in general. This positive and healthy outlook allows them to build rapport and better relationships paving the way for others to understand them and relate to them better. Understanding each other’s feelings, needs and limitations leads to a happy workplace that is made up of energized and inspired employees.

In a workplace there arise many situations on a daily basis that can be potential reasons for strife and conflict. With high emotional intelligence it is a lot simpler to diffuse such conflict situations and in fact even strive towards avoiding them and also preventing them from happening. When co-workers are able to anticipate the reactions of one another, they would be more concerned with ensuring that friction and squabbles do not happen – no one likes to be in unpleasant situations or work in a place where there is strife and high stress.

Given all the ways that emotional intelligence helps to work better together in an office, it also paves the path for success more often than not. People in offices need to work together in teams, on projects and also to achieve the goals of the company, their teams and their own. Success is nearer at hand since emotionally intelligent people are not afraid of setbacks and in fact are more resistant to change and other negative influences.

People with high emotional intelligence make better leaders too. Their ability to remain calm, find solutions and encourage others to give their best makes them ideal candidates for leadership positions. People who work in offices are motivated by better growth prospects and salaries – but nothing is handed for free. Only when the company can perceive that they are ready for such roles will they place the reins in the hand of the employee – for one’s own success and path of growth, it is a good idea to cultivate and build on emotional intelligence.

We have spoken about how valuable and useful emotional intelligence is for the personal and professional growth of a person. So how does one cultivate and or improve one’s personal level of emotional intelligence?

  • Emotional intelligence is an inside out process – which means that a person must first be aware of their own feelings, emotions and state of mind. One must be able to clearly pin-point their own strengths and weaknesses and know how to strengthen and remove each of them respectively. With a robust awareness of one’s own self, a person can continually build emotional intelligence perfecting it as they go along.
  • High emotional intelligence is also a teacher, guide and critic. It will tell you when you are overreacting to a negative situation and also help you curb those negative instincts. A person becomes assertive over time without the need for aggression or controlling others. This helps to keep the person with the high EI at peace and also keeps the composure of the person they are dealing with. A calm mind is better equipped to make sound and rational decisions.
  • Once the ‘inside out’ is sorted – an emotionally intelligent person can adapt to the stressful and ever changing social situations with ease. When people around you react negatively, it could be due to some unpleasant situation they have been through or could be ill or stressed out about something else. Emotional intelligence lets you pick on their non-verbal cues and keeps you from reacting adversely.
  • When you are empathetic to the people that work with you, better relationships are built. Emotional intelligence enables you to keep an open mind, be more receptive to suggestions and also respect the diversity and differences of those who work with you. People are drawn towards those who are level-headed and seem to have a solution for seemingly complex problems. You earn the trust, confidence and respect of those who work with you when your emotional intelligence quotient is high.

Emotional intelligence, it is believed, is normally shaped by what people experience and believe in the early stages of their life. People who would have met with distrust and disruptive behaviour early in life and often, will find it harder to inculcate and develop emotional intelligence, simply because they have had reasons to be vary of others. It takes effort and time to overcome these real experiences and develop a mind-set that is positive and open. Even if emotional intelligence seems difficult to grasp and develop, the truth is that it is crucial and indispensable in improving the quality of both our personal and professional lives.

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