Emotional intelligence at work. Why is it so important?

inteligencia emocional en el trabajo

Motivation is an increasingly important element for a team to function properly. A team made up of very intelligent people, but with a bad relationship between them, will undoubtedly work worse than a united team. This is why the importance of emotional intelligence at work is growing, because leaders are learning that knowing how to deal with problems and relate to colleagues is as valuable (or even more) as doing a good job.

But, before we talk about why this is significant, let’s explain what we mean by emotional intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence refers to people’s ability to understand their own and others’ emotions and to use this information to guide their behavior and adapt. In other words, it is the ability to understand how others feel and to behave in the most appropriate way.

Daniel Goldman, psychologist and writer, explained the 5 components of emotional intelligence in the workplace:

Elements of emotional intelligence:

  • Self-control

The ability to regulate our responses to negative stimuli is the main pillar of emotional intelligence.

If we cannot contain our emotions in tense situations and give the response we would like to receive ourselves, not only will we not help to solve the problem. We will also foster a bad working environment that will make it difficult to manage future situations.

  • Self-awareness

Each person has his or her strengths and weaknesses. To promote this self-control, it is essential to know ourselves and work on our capacity to respond to situations we consider unpleasant.

To do this, it is important to introspect and even ask for feedback from our co-workers. Our self-image is not always accurate.

  • Self-motivation

Motivation is a key aspect at work, but it is also a key aspect in the management of our emotional intelligence.

If we do not want to improve in something, or we believe that there is no solution, it is difficult to achieve it. Therefore, it is essential to understand obstacles for what they really are: a chance to improve.

  • Empathy

It is impossible to manage work problems without understanding how our colleagues feel. Otherwise, it is likely that our responses will generate rejection and will not help to improve the situation, but rather the opposite.

Even so, this does not mean that we should become the other person. We must know what our partner needs and act tactfully, but without ceasing to be ourselves.

  • Social Skills

Our social skills are the staging of the 4 previous elements. If we know ourselves, want to improve, understand others and control our responses, our social skills will undoubtedly be good.

Even so, when communicating, it is especially important to be self-critical and perceive feedback as a possibility to improve.

Importance of emotional intelligence at work

Although all employees require a certain degree of emotional intelligence in the workplace, it is especially critical for managers and middle managers. An antisocial employee can create some problems in his or her environment, but no company can function if employees do not appreciate their leader to some degree.

Not only this, but a leader who cares about his workers will always motivate his work team more. The work climate will be more pleasant and relationships between employees will improve. This is why a good working environment is considered one of the keys to achieving job satisfaction.

In addition, it is the middle managers who are responsible for managing the issues that arise between employees. In these cases, it is essential to be neutral and understand the interests of both parties in order to reach an agreement. Failure to manage these situations correctly tends to translate into more serious problems in the future.

As is to be expected, something similar happens with general managers, who are in charge of managing issues among middle managers. This is why emotional intelligence is essential for the top management of companies, because a bad management of a problem between departments will not only worsen the work environment, but can also ruin the corporate strategy itself.

How to improve our emotional intelligence at work

1. Analyze body language

Our facial and body expressions are sincerer than our words. When you talk to someone at work, paying attention to their body posture and gestures will help you know how they are feeling. We are all different, and what is neutral language to one may come across as very aggressive to others. If you see that your partner is feeling uncomfortable, try to moderate your tone or take a different approach to the problem.

2. Identify your triggers and those of others.

You may have noticed that there are certain situations that produce negative emotions in you. Some people inevitably get angry when their voice is raised, while others can’t stand being made fun of in tense situations. There are many examples like these where each person reacts differently.

Knowing which situations generate negative emotions is key to improving our emotional intelligence in our work. Once you have identified them, it is important to work on your responses when you find yourself in them. Take them for what they are: a challenge to improve. On the other hand, when you know those of your colleagues, you should simply avoid them so as not to cause problems.

3. Avoid judging

Many of our concerns with other people come from having a negative mental image of them. And self-fulfilling prophecies are real: when we make a mental image of a person, we treat them accordingly, so they are more likely to behave as we expected. Judging someone negatively will make us treat them worse without realizing it, which will make them treat us worse.

This is why it is important to avoid judging people right off the bat. We have to give everyone a chance and treat them the best way we know how, regardless of how we think they are. If they turn out to be nasty, all of your colleagues will have noticed. If you’re the only one who thinks so, it’s probably due to bias.

4. Spend time with your peers

The best way to improve our emotional intelligence is to relate to each other, and the best way to learn to relate to each other is, like everything else, through practice. There is no better way to get to know your colleagues than by spending time with them, both inside and outside of work. Working with them will help you know how to deal with them, but you will only get to know them in depth outside the work environment.

Still, it’s not enough to simply spend time with them. People with good emotional intelligence care about others, which means they ask questions and remember the answers (to the extent they can). You’ll find that the better you get to know your co-workers, the easier it will be to get along and resolve conflicts. After all, the key to solving any problem is understanding the other party.

5. Help solve problems

When there is a problem that cannot be solved, one of the best ways to approach it is with the help of a mediator. A mediator is a neutral person in the conflict whose goal is to get both parties to reach an agreement, someone who is interested in resolving the situation, but does not want it to turn to a specific side.

Mediating third party conflicts is a great way to improve emotional intelligence at work: it allows you to understand how your colleagues think, identify their emotions and triggers and work on your own empathy. Moreover, if you do your job as a mediator correctly, you will improve your relationship with both colleagues and the relationship between the two of you – it’s all benefits when you try to help others!