How are you? No, really, how are you? It’s a question often asked out of politeness by someone who doesn’t necessarily want to hear an honest answer.
But we genuinely want to know.
Are you able to cope with all that life throws at you? Do you have the emotional intelligence to understand your emotions, yet not let your feelings rule you, especially in the workplace where we are supposed to hide our emotions and just get on?
Our emotions are always there, including at work, whether we like it or not. So let’s figure out how to control them without stifling them.
Use emotion wisely
It’s human nature to try to separate things out and compartmentalise our lives. For years we’ve thought that there’s no place for emotions in the business world, which is a dangerous mindset – it would be far more concerning if we didn’t have them.
The trouble is, when you’re swamped with deadlines and goals, it’s not always easy to recognise how you come across to others. You’re so focused on what you’re doing that the way you communicate – even though you’re not saying anything bad – can be misinterpreted because of your body language, or the nuance of your voice.
Your team may feel that their needs are not being met if you’re too focused on performance, objectives, and goals. Which, of course, are all important, but having high emotional intelligence means you can manage these essential things, while building an excellent rapport with your team. But what does it actually mean?
Emotional intelligence has been studied since the 1970s by many people, one of them being Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist. In his book Emotional Intelligence, published in 1995, he explains how it is broken down into five main elements:
Self-awareness – When you understand your emotions and don’t let your feelings rule you, you tend to be more confident, intuitive, know your strengths and weaknesses, and will work on those areas for improved performance.
Self-regulation – When you know how to control your emotions, you don’t allow yourself to become too angry, jealous or impulsive. Instead, you are more thoughtful, have better integrity, can cope with change, and have the ability to say “no”.
Motivation – High degrees of emotional intelligence tend to result in greater motivation and passion. You are willing to defer immediate results for better long-term success. You love a challenge and tend to be very effective in all you do.
Empathy – Good at recognising the feelings of others, being empathetic means you are usually excellent at managing relationships, listening, relating, avoiding quick judgements or stereotyping people. You live your life in a very open and honest way.
Social skills – Having high emotional intelligence means you are easy to talk to and are a good team player, recognising the strengths of others and helping them to develop. You manage disputes well, are an excellent communicator, and build and maintain strong relationships.
Learn the ropes
Learning about and enhancing your own emotional intelligence is integral to gaining success in the workplace. There is an overlap with the characteristics of charisma, too, but it’s important to separate out and enhance your emotional intelligence, which is more about how you feel about yourself, using both your body and brain to the optimum.
Personal development in the workplace usually means improving staff performance levels, communication styles, product knowledge, and working well together – teamwork.
If you’ve been lucky and employed staff who are oozing with emotional intelligence, it would make all this development so much easier, quicker and more efficient. However, in the real world not many of us are naturally that self-aware or confident. So it makes sense to help your most valued commodity – your staff – to develop their emotional intelligence.
Richard Reid is chief executive and clinical director of Pinnacle Therapy.