It’s obvious to most of us why intelligence is important as we navigate our careers and strive to make an impact, but what about emotional intelligence?
Psychology Today describes emotional intelligence as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” Experts say that emotional awareness is tied to strong problem-solving skills and the ability to read and understand people. It makes sense, then, that emotional intelligence in the workplace is important, but let’s get specific. Here are four reasons you need emotional intelligence as a professional:
1. To create lasting, authentic relationships. Day in, day out, you’re spending time with other people—in meetings, working together on projects, on phone calls. Emotional intelligence will allow you to better understand those around you and figure out the best way to work together toward goals. It will help you develop empathy, which means you’ll relate to people better. That all adds up to stronger relationships that will carry you through your career—at this company and beyond.
2. To enhance your people skills. In many jobs, working with others is a requirement. Thus, it’s important to know how to work effectively and communicate with many different kinds of people (who have different communication styles themselves). Everyone operates differently. As a colleague, manager or employee, adaptability is vital.
3. To build trust in the workplace. We’ve talked on the blog before about the importance of trust in the workplace. In a culture built on trust, leaders and managers believe in the importance of good working relationships and open, honest communication. They frequently recognize others for their efforts and invite their employees to share their ideas with leadership and one another. To be this kind of employer, you need emotional intelligence.
4. To be a valued member of any team. There’s a lot that goes into being a great team member, and most of it comes down to dedication, hard work and putting others before yourself. You own your work and do what you say you will do. When others contribute effort, you give thoughtful, useful feedback. You acknowledge others’ ideas, even if you don’t always agree with them, and make those with whom you work feel appreciated and trusted. Psychologist and bestselling author Daniel Goleman is to thank for introducing the concept of emotional intelligence (first unveiled by Yale psychologists in 1990) to the world on a grand scale in his book “Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ,” in 1995. In the years since, he has researched and written about the relationship between emotional intelligence and success in a variety of settings—including the workplace.
As a quick summary, here are the five components of emotional intelligence according to Goleman:
Self-awareness – The ability to recognize one’s own personality or individuality.
Self-regulation – The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
Internal motivation – The internal drives that move one toward certain behavior or activity.
Empathy – The ability to be aware of, understand and be sensitive to the feelings, thoughts and experiences of others even when one has not experienced or thought those feelings themselves.
Social skills – The skills used by people to interact and communicate with one another.
When you put effort toward strengthening your emotional intelligence, you build a lifelong skill that will help you become a better, more effective manager and employee. Hone these aptitudes each day. You—and those around you—will notice a difference in your relationships, attitude and happiness.