Emotional Intelligence (EI) is quickly becoming recognised as an essential skill in the workplace. But what is EI and why is it so important?

Essentially, it’s about understanding your emotions and those of others around you. It helps with self-awareness, self-regulation, leadership and working relationships. As such, it’s a vital element of personal development and team building. Indeed, research shows that 80% of business success is down to EI, with IQ accounting for just 20%.

Emotional intelligence and self-regulation

We often hear how top sport stars or actors are their own worst critics; always analysing their past performance to find ways of improving. This is an example of EI in action.

Emotional intelligence starts with an acceptance that things can be done differently. While that alone doesn’t constitute EI, when people don’t realise this, they dig their heels in and refuse to listen. And listening is a key factor in EI.

In the first instance, it’s listening to yourself. When you analyse your performance in the workplace, start with the result. Whether good or bad, can you identify why it turned out the way it did?

When things don’t go to plan, it’s easy to become defensive about your own actions and overly critical of what others did. But is this a healthy way to approach the issue? Ultimately, when you come to review performance, the sole focus should be on how to make things better next time.

It’s ok to be angry, upset, maybe even embarrassed about something you (or somebody else) did or didn’t do. These are genuine emotions that shouldn’t be hidden or glossed over. Wellbeing in the workplace is important, not just results. Asking for feedback and listening to what your colleagues have to say can help improve both.

But most of us can recall times when they’ve witnessed or been a part of a situation in which emotions get the better of a person and communication breaks down. Regardless of how this comes about, it causes a blockage in the improvement process.

When you understand your emotions – and your emotional triggers – you become better placed to control them using self-regulation techniques. For self-regulation, read, ‘controlling your emotions’. This is what helps keep your mind clear and your decision-making coherent.

Emotional intelligence and social awareness

When you work with other people, it’s not enough to only be aware of your own feelings and emotions. If you can spot signs of how your colleagues and customers are feeling, you have another way of helping keep lines of communication open.

Often in a small team, there can be one overriding factor that appears, on first glance, to have been primarily responsible for something going badly. The person responsible knows it, the team knows it and the manager knows it.

This can be a tricky problem to solve. The matter may be the elephant in the room that everybody tries to avoid. Or it might be a source of tension within the team, with blame being cast.

Neither of these are helpful. In this situation, the leader must display emotional intelligence in order to tackle the problem head on while also unifying the team and identifying practical improvements to avoid making the same mistake in the future.

A leader who can self-regulate, remain calm and display good people management skills can turn this negative into a positive, making it a learning curve for all rather than a mudslinging session.

The benefits of high emotional intelligence

High EI has a positive impact on the individual and the team. Indeed, studies have shown that 90% of top performers in business have high emotional intelligence.

Benefits of emotional intelligence include:

  • Self-awareness means understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, making you confident in what you can do while acknowledging your key areas for development.

  • Self-management enables you to control a situation even when others become tense.

  • Social awareness builds empathy and the ability to read a room.

  • Relationship management is the art of putting these aspects into practice and driving desirable outcomes through open, honest two-way communication in a calm, positive environment.

Relationships are what make teams successful and drive a positive customer experience. These are two of the most important aspects of any successful organisation. Without an understanding of your own emotional triggers, and those of others around you, these crucial relationships are at risk.

Richmond delivers bespoke packages to help businesses develop their leaders and their teams. Our approach helps heighten the emotional intelligence of learners, drawing out their strengths, weaknesses, self-confidence and ability to self-regulate.

To talk to us about training tailored to your workforce that will upskill individuals and help build team spirit, call today on 01244 344322 or enquire online.

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