Simply stated, everyone has emotions. In fact, research shows that most people have 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day and each one has an emotion connected to it.
So, when your workplace has a “check your emotions at the door” or “emotions have no place at work” mentality, you are being set up for failure.
Emotional intelligence, or EI, is not a new concept. Daniel Goleman’s groundbreaking book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ, has served as a guide in the EI field for more than 25 years.
As Goleman’s book title states, EI can be more important than intellect when it comes to success in the workplace (and your personal life). The better grasp you have on EI within yourself and those you work with the more successful you will be.
How Does EI Work?
What happens when you are negatively triggered? Say someone takes credit for your fantastic idea at work. Your brain has a biological response—it thinks it is threatened and releases hormones. Suddenly you are in survival mode. Because of this, you lose critical thinking capabilities and become limited in your decision-making abilities. It happens in a typical workday all the time.
Let’s flip that scenario. Suppose your boss just told you how awesome you are and that she loves the work you are doing. When rewards happen, your brain kicks in and releases dopamine, the “feel-good” hormone, which enhances your critical thinking. You become highly engaged and rise to the peak of creativity and problem-solving.
People with a high EI can manage these situations, knowing what their reactions will be. They also tend to be more resilient, handling stress, and adapting better to change compared to a person unaware of their EI capabilities.
Emotional intelligence also has to do with noticing behavior, being authentic, and having the ability to have difficult conversations productively. It’s about responding rather than reacting. It’s when you take a deep breath and use all your skills to respond well.
It’s Like Money in the Bank
There is a tremendous return on investment for organizations that measure and provide development opportunities for EI. When people have a higher level of EI it’s been shown they:
- Are more effective leaders
- Perform better at work
- Show more resiliency
- Sell more
- Serve members or clients better
- Develop highly liked teammates
- Are more engaged in their jobs
Wait a minute—let’s go back to that sell more part. Salespeople with high EI can sell more effectively because they craft conversations and build relationships more successfully with clients through their authentic, empathetic foundation. It makes for longer relationships and ultimately drives more sales. A well-developed EI can help the bottom line.
The good news is that unlike people’s intelligence quotient that cannot be learned or improved on, a person’s EI certainly can be. And not only does it make for a better employee, it makes for a well-rounded and resilient person.
Human brains are certainty-seeking machines, meaning they aren’t fans of not knowing what’s going to happen. Since mid-March, most people have been in a constant state of uncertainty because of COVID-19. It has been a time of juggling and coping, homeschooling, and stressing, doing what needs to be done to be successful at work and at home.
Having your EI sharpened has never been more important with COVID-19 in the picture. Most things have changed at work and we all want to come out the other side of the pandemic being able to better navigate work environments by diagnosing and prescribing solutions.
Bottom line: The way you show up at work—the way you interact with people and the behaviors you choose—has an impact on the way people feel. The way people feel controls the extent to which they can engage. When people are stressed, unhappy, or anxious, they are incapable of drawing on the mental resources to engage as fully as they are when they are happy, inspired, and empowered. With a high EI, you can learn and choose to show up at work in a different way that will not only benefit you, but others around you.
Jane Giacobassi, MA, SPHR, at MRA is a Genos International Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner. Jane now helps MRA members:
- Design and facilitate EI solutions.
- Develop individuals’ and teams’ EI by evaluating and debriefing their assessment results.
- Provide practical tools and techniques for applying EI and being more emotionally intelligent in the workplace.