Emotional Intelligence: Importance in the Workplace

Emotional intelligence: a person’s ability to monitor both their own and other people’s emotions, differentiate between the various types of emotions, categorise them appropriately, and then use this information as a guide to their behaviour and thinking (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_intelligence).

In simple terms Emotional Intelligence refers to how you deal with both your emotions and those of other people around you. It helps foster effective communication, relieve stress, defuse potential conflict and overcome interpersonal challenges.

emotional-intelligence-infographicEmotional intelligence (EI) is the other kind of “smart”; the less talked about kind of “smart” (as opposed to “IQ” smart, which we are all familiar with). And although emotional intelligence has not received the amount of attention it deserved in the past, it has in the last few decades gained acknowledgement as a key factor to success.

It was not until 1995 that the term “Emotional Intelligence” and what it entailed became known to the masses – thanks to the efforts of one Daniel Goleman. In his New York Times bestseller Emotional Intelligence-Why it can matter more than IQ, Goleman explains the importance of EI and how it drives leadership performance. His book builds on the work of the “Godfathers” of emotional intelligence Peter Salovey (U. of New Hampshire), John Mayer (Yale) and Howard Gardner (Harvard), who had laid the foundation in this field. (https://hbr.org/2004/01/what-makes-a-leader)

Emotional intelligence serves as the missing link to a peculiar finding: high IQ individuals are 70% of the time outperformed by people with average IQs.

Before EI was understood fully people assumed that IQ was the sole source of success. This caused much confusion when more people with average IQs succeeded in business than their “smarter” (higher IQ) counterparts. After years of research Emotional Intelligence has been identified as the factor that separates star performers from the pack.

EI affects how we navigate social complexities, manage behaviour and make personal decisions with positive results. EI is crucial for success in the workplace. Let’s say that again: EI is crucial for success in the workplace. The Journal of Applied Psychology recently published a study that looked at results from 36 separate pieces of research, with data collected from 2,168 employed adults on the relationship between EI and an individual’s job performance (measured by supervisor ratings). The study concluded that EI and job performance are strongly correlated. http://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2014/01/09/emotional-intelligence/

There are two main competencies that make up emotional intelligence:

  1. Personal
  2. Social

Personal competence includes self-awareness and self-management skills. These focus more on internal interactions than interactions with other people. This is your ability to keep track of your own emotions and control your tendencies and behaviours.

Social competence is composed of social awareness and relationship management skills. These focus on your ability to read and understand other people’s moods, motives, and behaviours in order to improve relationships.


So why is emotional intelligence so important in the workplace? Well, according to studies:

  •  Of 33 other important workplace skills, EI has been found to be the strongest performance predictor with a success rate of 58% for all job types.
  • 90% of high performers have a high EI
  • Just 20% of low performers have a high EI
  • People with a higher IE generally make more money – approximately $US29,000 more each year than those with a lower EI on average.
  • A single point increase in IE adds $US1,300 to an individual’s annual salary

(Graphic and Data Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2014/01/09/emotional-intelligence/)

People with a higher EI are generally more successful leaders: people want them on their teams and groups and because they make other people feel good, they have an easier time when undertaking tasks than people who get upset and angered easily.

How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Unlike the other kind of smart (IQ), emotional intelligence is less rigid and can be acquired and improved upon with practice. The following strategies can be used to improve your EI.

  1. Be careful when reacting to people. Do not rush to judgement before you know all the facts, avoid stereotypes and try putting yourself in the other person’s situation. Try being more open and accepting of other people’s perspectives and needs.
  2. Be humble. Humility is a very beneficial skill to acquire. It shows that you are aware of what you did but you are quietly confident about it. Don’t worry about getting praise, instead shift the focus to other people and give them a chance to shine.
  3. Self-evaluation. Identify your weaknesses and try working on them to make yourself a better person. Take a step back and look at yourself honestly – it might change your life.
  4. Be accountable for your actions. Apologize to people whose feelings you have hurt. Don’t ignore the issue or ignore the person. You’ll be surprised by how much people are willing to forgive when you make an honest attempt to make things right.
  5. Evaluate your reaction to stressful situations. If you find that you get upset or angry too quickly, work to keep your emotions under control. Keeping calm in difficult situations will not only help you make better decisions but also relate better to co-workers.

Showing and reading emotions is innate. We are born with it. Research shows that even infants as young as 7 months can pick up on eye cues (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141027182223.htm). It is somewhere along the way from that age that we lose the ability to understand emotions.

Contact CDL Insight Consulting and let us help you and your employees acquire the necessary tools and skills to enhance emotional intelligence for greater business success.


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