Career experts say workers across the board benefit from developing soft skills because these abilities are pivotal to success in every industry. Emotional intelligence ranks high on lists of soft skills, but what is it? Wikipedia defines EI as “the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions,” but what does that look like, and how does one know if they measure up?
Sometimes it’s easier to understand what something is by exploring what it’s not. Let’s look at examples of what can happen when emotional intelligence is lacking in the workplace, then talk about how to evaluate where you currently stand and strengthen your EI skills as needed.
Unraveling the Mystery of Emotional Intelligence
At its core, emotional intelligence refers to our ability to understand and regulate our feelings and respond appropriately to the feelings of those we work with. Emotional intelligence matters because it plays a significant role in how we navigate professional challenges, build relationships and make decisions.
Emotional Intelligence Fails – 3 Examples
In the world of work, lacking emotional intelligence can lead to comical yet cringe-worthy situations. Let's take a humorous look at some scenarios where EI is absent and the consequences that follow.
The Angry Email Avalanche: When Unchecked Emotions Take Over
Meet Alex, the talented but temperamental software engineer. One day Alex’s project manager emailed constructive criticism suggesting a recent software update needed optimization. Alex took the project manager’s tone as harsh and critical and, after half an hour of brooding, his emotions erupted like a volcano. Fueled by frustration and too many energy drinks, he sent a hasty reply dripping with sarcasm and passive-aggressiveness. Unfortunately, he sent his emotionally-charged message to the entire team, creating a storm of confusion and awkwardness.
Lesson Learned: When emotions run high, it's best to step back and cool off before hitting the "send" button. Thoughtful communication prevents embarrassing email disasters and preserves professional relationships.
The Cubicle Clash: Navigating Office Drama with Grace
Office drama ensued when Sarah and Mike found themselves entangled in a messy disagreement over a marketing project's creative direction. A discussion over an upcoming client pitch grew heated, and both dug their heels in during a group meeting. As each assumed the worst about the other, their disagreement escalated into a full-blown shouting match. Coworkers stared in disbelief and the productivity meter plummeted.
Lesson Learned: Keeping emotions in check during disagreements is essential. Empathy and active listening can help individuals find common ground and foster a more collaborative work environment.
The Presentation Panic: Keeping Cool Under Pressure
Jason’s role with his nonprofit organization evolved to include increasing public speaking responsibilities at fundraiser events and donor meetings. But one day, in front of a critical audience, Jason's nerves got the best of him. His heart raced, his palms grew sweaty and his words stumbled all over the place like a toddler just learning to walk. He became a bundle of nerves and struggled to present the information necessary to generate support for the organization’s cause. Jason was embarrassed and the audience unconvinced.
Lesson Learned: Emotional intelligence empowers individuals to manage stress and perform their best under pressure. Knowing strategies for maintaining composure can turn panic into poise.
Assessing Your Emotional Intelligence
Now that we've had a look at the uncomfortable consequences that occur when one lacks emotional intelligence, it's time for some introspection. Let's assess our own emotional intelligence and uncover areas where we can grow and excel. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How Do You Handle Stressful Situations?
Think about the last time you encountered a stressful situation at work. Did you manage your emotions effectively, or did you feel overwhelmed? Understanding how you react under pressure provides valuable insights into your emotional intelligence.
Were you able to stay composed and think rationally, or did you find yourself reacting impulsively? Emotional intelligence enables you to approach stress with a problem-solving mindset, rather than letting emotions cloud your judgment.
- Can You Empathize with Your Colleagues' Perspectives?
Picture yourself in your colleague's shoes – do you understand their feelings and perspectives? Empathy is a vital aspect of emotional intelligence, as it fosters stronger relationships and effective communication. Improve your skills when you practice active listening. Pay attention to your colleagues' thoughts and feelings during conversations. Show genuine interest and understanding.
Cultivate empathy. Empathy allows you to build rapport and connect with others on a deeper level. Seek to understand different viewpoints and experiences.
- Do You Stay Calm in Challenging Discussions?
When faced with difficult discussions or conflicts, how do you handle them? Emotional intelligence equips you with the ability to remain calm and composed during challenging interactions.
Choose Your Words Wisely. Think before you speak and respond thoughtfully rather than reacting emotionally.
Adapt and Stay Open. Adjust your communication style to match the situation, encouraging constructive dialogue.
- How Well Do You Adapt to Change?
Change is inevitable in any professional journey. Emotional intelligence enables you to embrace change with a positive attitude and adaptability.
Embrace a Growth Mindset: See change as an opportunity for learning and growth rather than a threat.
Analyze Your Responses: Reflect on how you react to change. Are you resistant to change or do you approach it with curiosity and resilience?
- Are You Mindful of Your Emotions?
Do you monitor whether you’re enthusiastic, stressed, hopeful, frustrated or defensive? Emotional intelligence allows you to understand how your emotions influence your actions and decisions. Take moments throughout the day to check in with yourself and recognize your emotional state.
What Does Emotional Intelligence Have to Do With Brelsford Personnel?
Work relationships affect everything from how much people get done to how long they stay with a company. Brelsford Personnel can connect you with highly qualified candidates who possess the hard and soft skills needed to thrive in your organization. Get in touch for more information on how to partner with us for a stronger, more emotionally intelligent workforce that drives lasting success.