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April 13, 2023 - 8 minutes

The Role of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace 

Emotionally intelligence is a valuable skill that enables businesses and tech professionals to be successful. 

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Emotional intelligence plays a critical role in workplaces. It’s often undervalued in relation to technical skills and knowledge, however, navigating interpersonal communication and being in touch with the emotional needs of everyone in the workplace is the backbone to a business's success. 

What is emotional intelligence? 

Emotional intelligence (EI), or sometimes referred to as emotional quotient (EQ), is the ability to understand and manage one’s emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It’s about self awareness, social awareness, and effective communication and is necessary in the process of empathizing with others and building strong relationships.

In the context of work, high emotional intelligence is necessary in aiding folks achieve their professional goals. Emotional intelligence is crucial in helping folks make decisions, solve complex problems, navigate conflict and communicate effectively. Obviously technical skills and knowledge are important, but if one lacks emotional intelligence, they may limit their ability to be successful in highly social workspaces. 

Understanding the five components of emotional intelligence at work: 

Psychologist Daniel Goleman, in his book “Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ,” broke emotional intelligence down into five components in order to help us better understand the complexities of emotional intelligence. While he’s divided them, Goleman is clear that these components are interconnected and work collaboratively to form emotional intelligence. By working on improving these specific components, tech professionals can expand their emotional intelligence and subsequently enhance their performance in the workplace. 

  1. Self-Awareness: self-awareness is the ability to understand one’s own emotional responses, strengths, weaknesses, values, and triggers. It’s a core component to emotional intelligence hinting at the self reflective aspects of relationships. Individuals who are self-aware are able to better manage their emotions, communicate strongly with others and make sound decisions. 

  2. Self-Regulation: once one is in touch with their emotions and triggers, self-regulation is the task at hand. It’s the practice of controlling one’s emotions, responses, impulses and behaviors. People with strong self-regulation skills are able to better regulate stress, remain calm under pressure, and pause to reflect before acting on an impulse. 

  3. Motivation: motivation is understood as the desire or drive to achieve one’s goals, persist in the face of adversity, and improve oneself. Motivation is important in the workplace because folks who are motivated are more likely to commit themselves to their work, take initiative, and achieve their personal and professional goals. 

  4. Empathy: empathy is someone’s capacity to understand and share the feelings of others. Strong empathy skills help one better relate to their co-workers, collaborate successfully, build stronger relationships, and resolve conflicts effectively.  

  5. Social Skills: social skills refer to one’s ability to work well in teams, communicate effectively, build strong relationships and influence others. Tech professionals with strong social skills are able to be stronger leaders, negotiate effectively, and collaborate with others. 

These are thought of as the five components of emotional intelligence. That said, they are interconnected and work collaboratively to construct one’s overall emotional intelligence. Through developing these components, one can enhance their emotional intelligence and improve their performance in the workplace. 

Why does emotional intelligence matter in the workplace? 

More and more HR directors and business leaders are pointing to the importance of emotional intelligence in relation to a business’s success. It’s not enough to simply be smart, if one lacks social awareness or conflict resolution skills, their contributions to a business are limited. According to a survey of hiring managers, nearly 75% of respondents stated that they consider an employee’s emotional intelligence (EQ) more important than their intelligence quotient (IQ). This is precisely because emotional intelligence can greatly improve communication leadership, decision-making, conflict resolution, and teamwork, among other important aspects to a productive workplace. 

Here are a few ways in which emotional intelligence can benefit tech businesses: 

  • Building strong relationships: emotional intelligence helps tech professionals better understand their own needs, emotions, and reactions in relation to their work. It’s in self-awareness that allows workers to later understand the needs and emotions of others. Only from this place of mutual understanding can workers build stronger relationships with coworkers, clients and other stakeholders. 

  • Effective communication: high emotional intelligence allows for open and effective communication with coworkers and clients. This communication can be verbal or non-verbal. Emotional intelligence allows tech professionals to better listen to others, form and articulate ideas, and build consensus around proposed solutions. 

  • Conflict resolution: no workplace is free from conflict, that said, navigating and resolving conflict in productive ways is crucial to building a productive workplace. Emotional intelligence is critical in conflict resolution. By understanding one’s emotions and the emotions of others, tech workers can more easily deescalate high stress situations, face conflict head on, and reach mutually beneficial solutions for the company or the workplace. 

  • Leadership: emotional intelligence is a critical component of effective leadership. Clear communication, listening skills, and emotional understanding are necessary in order to motivate coworkers, build a healthy workplace environment, and create a more productive and successful office. 

  • Constructive criticism: emotional intelligence is a crucial skill in providing constructive criticism to others precisely because it requires self-awareness, social-awareness, and strong communication skills. Providing feedback and criticism to coworkers is necessary to building a more productive workplace, but to do so effectively requires high emotional intelligence. 

  • Increased productivity: we all know that too much time is wasted spent navigating interpersonal conflict, combating rumors and navigating workplace social dynamics. Conflict is normal and ultimately necessary in the process of building stronger relationships. However, conflict that’s not well addressed can send a company totally off track. That said, strong emotional intelligence allows workplaces to grow stronger and more productive in the face of conflict.

  • Improved teamwork: collaboration is a core component to the tech industry. That said, emotional intelligence is crucial in building strong teams, effectively supporting one another, addressing conflict in constructive ways and creating highly productive workplaces that aid the innovation and satisfaction of all folks involved. 

  • Better customer service: in an industry where customer satisfaction is highly important, emotional intelligence is a must. Tech professionals need to understand how to respond quickly and effectively to customer needs, frustrations or feedback in order to achieve high customer loyalty and satisfaction. Emotional intelligence aids effective communication with customers. 

Emotional intelligence is ultimately what allows businesses to build strong workplace dynamics, manage stress, communicate clearly and navigate complex relationships. In many ways, it’s the pinnacle of leadership for tech professionals. Without strong emotional intelligence, a business may falter in the face of conflict or adversity. Thus, improving emotional intelligence in the workplace is necessary in order to grow and advance one’s business

How can we improve emotional intelligence in the workplace?

We know that emotional intelligence is important to building a strong workplace. That said, how can your workplace invest in enhancing the level of emotional intelligence of your tech professionals? Some work can be done individually, and other work can be done through company trainings and workshops. In all, investing in emotional intelligence can lead to better communication, teamwork, and productivity. Here are a few strategies to improve the workplace’s EQ: 

  • Building deep self-awareness: employees should be encouraged to reflect on their emotional responses or reactions in a variety of situations. Companies can build in time for reflective activities, or simply encourage employees to think through their responses, in order to help employees identify patterns and triggers that they possess. From this self-awareness, employees can take the next step of addressing or transforming those reactions. 

  • Provide training and development opportunities: often employees are told to improve their self-awareness and other emotional intelligence skills but without any guidance. A training program is helpful in starting the conversation on emotional intelligence among employees. Workshops may offer tools that workers can later utilize in their own time, and provide a space dedicated to developing these skills with the support of a workshop facilitator. Professional trainings are often necessary in breaking the ice around an issue that sometimes is difficult for folks to see the importance of, or difficult to engage without the support of folks better versed on the subject. 

  • Practicing active listening: active listening is the act of listening in an empathetic way in order to achieve greater understanding and reduce the amount of miscommunications. Instead of simply listening to quickly combat or respond to someone, active listening requires follow-up questions, gestures that show you’re engaged, and waiting your turn to speak. It shows respect and helps build trust and rapport. Equally, colleagues will feel better understood and cared for in the workplace. Active listening is a really important skill to work on in enhancing overall emotional intelligence. 

  • Encouraging open communication: companies should create a culture in which employees feel comfortable expressing their emotions and concerns. Being able to communicate clearly and openly about workplace frustrations or conflicts helps address problems head on and prevents miscommunications from arising. 

  • Practice: emotional intelligence is not something that one can achieve overnight. It’s a variety of skills that one needs to train, and building those skills requires regular sustained practice. This could be achieved through role plays organized in a professional development course, or simply journaling after a tough day at work to think through alternative ways one could have reacted to a situation. Be patient with yourself and know that there is no shortage of moments in which you’ll be able to strengthen that emotional intelligence muscle. 

By investing in the emotional intelligence of your workplace, you’re investing in the wellbeing of your workers. In many ways, emotional intelligence is the backbone of a strong and effective company. 

By encouraging emotional intelligence, we’re committed to creating a more positive and productive workplace culture that will ideally lead to a more motivated and effective group of tech professionals. 

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