The Role of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
Over the past few years, the importance and validity of IQ testing has been put under increasing scrutiny, and alongside this a new kind of intelligence is gaining ground, even having made its way into HR departments and board meetings. Emotional Intelligence Quotient or EQ, is already something we recognize in an informal capacity– we all know of someone with great ‘people skills’ who has an uncanny ability to influence people and build connections.
More formally, Emotional Intelligence Quotient is defined as the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Those with a high EQ are better at empathizing, accurately recognising one’s own and others’ moods, managing and responding to emotions appropriately and possessing good communication skills.
Those with a high EQ not only have stronger and more stable relationships and vibrant social lives, it can also prove to be a significant advantage in the workplace. It would pay off then, to identify how EQ manifests in everyday work behavior, how to improve our own EQ, and how to go about developing it in people around us.
Signs of High EQ and its Benefits
It might not be difficult to spot those who exhibit signs of a high emotional quotient most times. People who are good at fostering relationships, communicating with others, making others feel heard, and don’t break down even when situations get really stressful. But not all people with high EQs excel in all these areas, and those with different, quieter personalities may not always be as easily recognisable.
While there are tests that organizations can administer, such as the Emotional Quotient Inventory(EQ-i), the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso EI Test (MSCEIT), and Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue), here are some instances that show an employee has a high EQ:
- They listen well. Even in meetings with conflicting views they let the other party put forward their point, and counter it in a constructive manner.
- On the flip side, they make sure to state their point without fear of being rejected or dismissed.
- Being understanding to coworkers who are feeling down. They are compassionate and offer support to people when they’re having bad days, instead of being irritated or ignoring them.
- Are flexible enough to take on new initiatives but remain resilient in having their individual input in it.
While there is no doubt that there are enough benefits of a high EQ listed above, there are other, less apparent advantages that emotionally competent employees have: they are less affected by work stress, have more organization commitment, and are more productive at their jobs.
But what about those who do not score well in this regard? Is Emotional Quotient a skill that can be learnt? This is a pressing question, both for employees who wish to do well in their professional spheres and those leading who want to create a better workforce. Thankfully according to a growing body of research, a two-level learning process can help people grow more emotionally competent.
How to Improve Your Emotional Quotient
- Self-awareness: The first step towards improving your emotional quotient is developing self-awareness. This involves understanding and recognizing your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and triggers. By being attuned to your emotional state, you can better manage your reactions and adapt your behavior in the workplace.
For example, imagine you are a team leader working on a high-stakes project with tight deadlines. During a particularly challenging meeting, you notice yourself becoming frustrated and impatient. By being self-aware, you can take a step back, acknowledge your emotions, and choose to respond in a composed and constructive manner, fostering a positive and productive environment.
- Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. In a corporate setting, empathy enables you to connect with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders on a deeper level, fostering stronger relationships and effective collaboration.
For instance, consider a scenario where a team member is facing personal difficulties and is struggling to meet project deadlines. Instead of reacting with frustration or apathy, an empathetic individual would take the time to understand their colleague’s challenges, offer support, and explore possible solutions together. This empathy-driven approach not only strengthens the bond between team members but also enhances overall productivity and team cohesion.
- Active listening: Active listening involves fully engaging with others during conversations, seeking to understand their perspectives, and responding thoughtfully. By actively listening, you demonstrate respect, validate others’ experiences, and foster an open and inclusive communication environment.
Let’s say you are participating in a brainstorming session where various ideas are being shared. Instead of interrupting or dismissing suggestions, an active listener would attentively listen to each idea, ask clarifying questions, and encourage others to contribute. This practice not only promotes a sense of inclusivity but also enhances creativity and innovation within the team.
- Conflict management: Conflict is an inevitable aspect of any workplace, but effective conflict management is vital for maintaining a healthy and productive work environment. Developing the ability to handle conflicts with composure and diplomacy is a key trait of individuals with high emotional intelligence.
For example, imagine a situation where two colleagues have differing opinions on a project approach and tensions begin to rise. An emotionally intelligent individual would step in, actively listen to both sides, and facilitate a constructive dialogue to find a middle ground or a mutually beneficial solution. By employing conflict resolution skills, they can prevent the situation from escalating into a detrimental conflict and instead foster a collaborative and harmonious work environment.
- Resilience: Resilience is the capacity to bounce back from setbacks and adapt to challenges. In a fast-paced corporate work field, resilience is crucial for navigating uncertainties and maintaining productivity.
Consider a scenario where a project you have been working on for months faces unexpected obstacles, resulting in delays and increased pressure. An individual with emotional resilience would view setbacks as opportunities for growth, maintaining a positive attitude, and persevering through challenges. They would adapt their plans, seek support from colleagues, and remain focused on finding alternative solutions, thus ensuring the project’s ultimate success.
By actively incorporating these strategies into your daily interactions and experiences in the corporate work field, you can elevate your emotional intelligence and make a tangible impact on your professional growth, teamwork, and overall success.
The Role of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
Keeping both steps in mind, here are a few exercises you can do to level-up your people skills:
- Develop a greater self-awareness: before getting better at understanding others, get better at reading yourself first. Observe your own thoughts, feelings, and reactions to situations. What gets you riled up? How do you act when placed in a stressful situation? Do you communicate what you feel to others clearly?
- Open up to vulnerability: especially true for team leaders, being true to yourself, and when possible to others, is the key for creating a comfortable atmosphere and honest work ethic. Not only will this help you learn more about yourself, it’ll bring you closer to your team too.
- Empathize: Now that you know yourself, it is time to put yourself in other people’s shoes. Even when not directly part of the situation, take the time to understand how your employees must feel in a certain situation, and how one would react at such a time.
Increase communication frequency and efficacy: to increase your Emotional Learning and change deeply-seated habits, it is important to put yourself in more situations that challenge your skills. Whether it is something small like talking to more coworkers during lunch, or planning bonding activities, or even setting up conflict-management systems, this is the most important step into getting better at emotional communication.
Working on your Body Language for a better EQ
Once you’ve gotten into the right mindset using the tips above a lot of the work has been done, but there’s still a crucial step left for perfect execution. Being concerned can come off as being nosy, or your attempt at constructive criticism can sound patronizing. Maintaining the right body language can make a world of difference, and prevent any miscommunication from occurring.
But first, identifying what the other person is feeling through their body language can help you gauge the situation, and decide how to react next. Here are some signs to lookout for:
- Confidence: is shown through relaxed facial features, an open body language with freely flowing gestures. They have a steady eye-contact and don’t often backtrack and are coherent when speaking.
- Nervousness: can be spotted by just the opposite. They may keep continuously looking towards and away from you, have clenched fists or a closed off body language. Both their talking and gestures may seem jerky and not smooth.
- Defensive: They don’t attempt to make any eye contact, move their torso away from you, have a mostly neutral expression, and may have an aggressive body language that is not very apparent.
- Bored: Have the classic, ‘glazed over’ look in their eyes, posture is slumped, movements are not quick or smooth, may even seem mechanical. They may engage in repetitive gestures like tapping their fingers.
Once you get hold of the matter at hand, the next step is to ensure correctly reacting to it:
- Maintain an appropriate amount of space depending on with whom and where the communication is taking place. Standing too close could make them uncomfortable or come off as aggressive. On the flip side, standing too far away could show a lack of connection or interest, or show our own nervousness.
- Face people directly and make enough eye contact. Doing this also signals that you’re interested in what they have to say and are engaged by their conversation. And when the situation merits, leaning towards them shows the person you have their complete and undivided attention, a practice that people with high EQs often use to validate others.
- Mirror others: whether you’re consoling a co-worker, encouraging them, or giving them advice for improvement, you might wonder how much physical contact to make, how close or far away you should be from them, and how expressive your gestures need to be. Observing what they do, and how they react to what you do, adjust your movements accordingly to make them comfortable.
Creating Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Workshops for Your Team: Nurturing Essential Skills in the Corporate Setting
Assess the team’s needs: Start by evaluating the specific areas where your team would benefit from improving their emotional intelligence. Reflect on common challenges, conflicts, or communication gaps that arise in the workplace. For instance, if there have been instances of strained relationships due to a lack of empathy or unresolved conflicts, focus on workshops that address these areas.
Design interactive sessions: Plan engaging and interactive workshops that encourage team members to actively participate and practice their emotional intelligence skills. Incorporate role-playing exercises, case studies, and group discussions to simulate real-life corporate scenarios. For example, create a role-play activity where team members can practice active listening and empathy by resolving a hypothetical conflict within a project.
Provide real-life examples: Use relatable examples from the corporate work field to illustrate the importance and application of emotional intelligence. Share stories of successful leaders who have effectively managed their emotions and fostered a positive work environment. Refer back to the earlier examples we discussed, such as the team leader handling a challenging meeting with composure or the empathetic individual supporting a colleague facing personal difficulties.
Foster open communication: Encourage team members to openly share their experiences, challenges, and insights during the workshops. Create a safe space where individuals feel comfortable expressing their emotions and seeking feedback. By sharing personal experiences related to emotional intelligence, team members can learn from each other and gain practical insights for their own growth.
Provide resources and follow-up support: Offer resources such as recommended books, articles, or online courses on emotional intelligence for team members to explore further. Additionally, provide ongoing support and reinforcement of the skills learned in the workshops. For instance, organize follow-up discussions or periodic check-ins to see how team members are applying emotional intelligence techniques in their day-to-day work.
By creating tailored EQ workshops that emphasize the specific needs of your team and incorporating relatable examples from the corporate work field, you can foster a more emotionally intelligent and harmonious work environment. These workshops not only enhance individual skills but also promote better collaboration, communication, and overall team performance.
Emotional intelligence (EQ) has become an essential aspect of corporate work life, revolutionizing the path to success. It is no longer enough to rely solely on technical skills. Organizations now recognize the profound impact of EQ on teamwork, communication, and overall productivity. Individuals with high emotional intelligence possess the ability to navigate challenges, build strong relationships, and foster a positive work culture.
Prioritizing the development of emotional intelligence in the corporate environment provides a competitive edge. Emotionally intelligent leaders inspire and motivate their teams, promoting collaboration and innovation. Effective communication and empathetic understanding resolve conflicts and forge productive partnerships. Moreover, individuals with well-honed EQ skills manage stress, adapt to change, and thrive in the demanding corporate landscape.
Investing in EQ workshops, resources, and ongoing support benefits both employees and organizations. Improved teamwork, higher employee satisfaction, and increased productivity are outcomes of an emotionally intelligent workforce.
In conclusion, emotional intelligence is a fundamental requirement for success in the corporate world. Embracing and nurturing EQ skills empowers individuals to excel in leadership, navigate interpersonal dynamics, and contribute to a thriving work environment. As the corporate landscape evolves, emotional intelligence remains a vital asset for sustained growth and accomplishment.
- Cherniss, Cary. “Bringing Emotional Intelligence to the Workplace: A Technical Report.” Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations, 1998,
- Forgas, Joseph P., et al. Emotional Intelligence in Everyday Life. Psychology Press, 2006.
- Khalili, Ashkan. “The Role of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: A Literature …” International Journal of Management, Oct. 2012,
- Matthews, Gerald. “Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: A Critical Review.” Applied Psychology Journal , 2004,
- Nikolaou, Ioannis, and Ioannis Tsaousis. “Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: Exploring Its Effects on Occupational Stress and Organizational Commitment.” The International Journal of Organizational Analysis, MCB UP Ltd, 1 Apr. 2002,
- Poskey, Mike. “The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace.” ZERORISK HR, Inc.,