WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
Emotional Intelligence, otherwise known as EQ, was formally coined by psychology professors Mayer and Salovey in 1990. The term is defined as the “ability to perceive and express emotion, assimilate emotion and thought, understand and reason with emotion, and regulate emotion in the self and others” (Mayer & Savoy, 2007; McCleskey, 2012). Simply put, EQ indicates how you are able to identify and manage the emotions of your own and others around you. For instance, you may express your emotions in a respectful manner, which in turn encourages the people around you to do the same. There are a range of different skills sets and behaviours that make up emotional intelligence. However, there are five main components that have been identified in research literature. These include self awareness, self regulation (management), self motivation, social awareness (empathy) and social skills (relationship management) (Serrat, 2017).
Having a high level of emotional intelligence can lead to strong and positive personal connections and achieving a higher level of life and career satisfaction. According to Serrat (2017), individuals who develop their EQ can also experience higher levels of productivity and success in what they do, as well as a reduced level of stress through alleviating conflict and promoting effective relationships.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO SHARPEN YOUR EQ?
There is plenty of empirical evidence to suggest that having a high EQ can significantly benefit those who work in a team based environment. Research has shown that when team members are able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of other members, it can lead to effective teamwork and better performance (Gilar-Corbi et al., 2019). Perhaps you may be experiencing difficulties in communicating with your team or are finding that you or another team member may be feeling detached from their work. Especially now as we move towards remote working, virtual interaction with your colleagues can be a whole different experience. This is where it becomes important to reflect on your emotional intelligence skills and improve these skills. These skills will become increasingly important the higher your position advances within an organisation, as research has also found that there is a positive correlation between EQ and leadership.
A study conducted by Batool (2013) found that the EQ of leaders can indeed positively impact employees in areas such as stress management, discipline and performance. This is because leaders with a high level of emotional intelligence will provide timely feedback to employees which helps to generate enhanced performance and satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment (Pastor, 2014). Not only that, but research has also found that the EQ of leaders and the team can promote constructive thinking in problem solving, generate creative solutions to conflict resolution and improve the level of cooperation and trust within the organisation (Pastor, 2014).
Therefore, based on the research and evidence provided, we can reflect that emotional intelligence is a valuable skill for employees, and requires sharpening throughout one’s career experience.
WAYS TO CONSIDER TO HELP IMPROVE YOUR EQ
So, how does one sharpen their emotional intelligence? Start by looking into resources such as books and webinars to become further educated on the importance of EQ and gain professional insight into the practices of developing EQ.
Also consider the range of courses and workshops that are out there, specifically designed to assist in building up your emotional intelligence. Dale Carnegie is one organisation that offers a range of professional training courses that are now accessible online. These courses can be extremely helpful in guiding you to utilise any learnt skills in real-life group situations, as opposed to simply reading and reflecting about EQ on your own.
Margaret Andrews, an instructor of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership at Harvard University, has also outlined steps to improve emotional intelligence.
- Recognise your emotions and name them: Spend time reflecting on the emotions that arise in different situations and how you would like to respond to these situations. Furthermore, consider your ability to pause and reconsider this response in the moment, and whether this needs improvement. This is a fundamental step towards developing EQ.
- Ask for feedback: Andrews suggests asking people around you (managers, colleagues, friends, family) about how they perceive your response to difficult situations, how adaptable or empathetic you are and how well you handle conflict. Whilst it is important to identify your own emotions, it is just as important to recognise any differences in behaviour noticed by others to further reflect and advance your EQ.