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Emotional intelligence at work

Fostering emotional intelligence at work can help your employees work more productively, resolve conflict, adapt to change and stick around when the going gets tough.

Emotional intelligence (also called the Emotional Quotient, or EQ) describes a person’s ability to monitor their own emotions as well as the emotions of others and to distinguish between and label different emotions accurately. Emotional intelligence can be used to guide one’s thinking and behaviour and influence the thinking and behaviour that of others.

EQ differs from the more commonly known IQ (intelligence quotient). While IQ is a numerical score derived from a person taking a standardised test designed to evaluate intelligence, EQ refers to a person’s ability to perceive, control, evaluate and express one’s own and others’ emotions.

Five major categories of emotional intelligence skills are recognised by researchers in this area.

  1. Self-awareness: the ability to recognize an emotion as it happens
  2. Self-regulation: the ability to use techniques to alleviate negative emotions such as anger, anxiety or depression
  3. Motivation: the ability to define clear goals and maintain a positive attitude
  4. Empathy: the ability to discern the feelings behind other people’s emotions
  5. Social skills: the development of interpersonal communication skills to better understand, empathise and negotiate with others in today’s global economy.

Psychologists have long recognised that people working together are more productive than the same number of individuals working separately. “Your EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them,” says Harvard developmental psychologist Howard Gardner.

Individuals with high EQ remain calm under pressure, lead by example, resolve conflict effectively, are empathetic to colleagues, and persist through sticky situations. As the workplace continues to evolve, making room for new technologies and innovations, these interpersonal qualities will become increasingly important. Emotional intelligence was ranked sixth in the World Economic Forum’s list of the top 10 skills that employees with need in the workplaces of the future.

It’s widely accepted that EQ is a trait not necessarily instinctive and therefore can be learnt and achieved through practice. In part two of our series, we’ll look at the steps you can take to foster emotional intelligence at work.

Like to know more? Bare Bones Consulting knows that getting personal with your team doesn’t interfere with productivity…in fact, it enhances it. Our HR strategies are simple, cost effective and work in your real world; not just on the pages of a psychology textbook. Give us a call or shoot us an email though our “Contact Us” pane then check out the Bare Bones Facebook page…that one’s not all about the dry side of HR!

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