Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Daniel Goleman popularized the term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in 1995 in the title of his bestselling book, ‘Emotional Intelligence: Why it can Matter More than IQ‘. Goleman defined emotional intelligence as ‘Understanding one’s own feelings, empathy for the feelings of others and the regulation of emotion in a way that enhances living.‘ Not everyone agrees with Goleman’s model of emotional intelligence, but there is general agreement that emotional intelligence exists, that it is a factor in personal and professional success, and that it can be improved.

The theory of emotional intelligence is popular because it implies that EQ can be developed. This is not universally accepted, but research has supported the idea that emotional intelligence competencies can be significantly improved over time. Emotional intelligence can be divided into personal and social competencies.

Personal competence is made up of self-awareness and self-management.

  • Self-awareness is the ability to recognize your own emotions and their effects on your self and other people.
  • Self-management builds on your self-awareness, using your own self-control to ensure your emotions don’t control you regardless of the situation.

Social competence is made up of social awareness and relationship management.

  • Social awareness competencies include empathy, organizational awareness, and service orientation.
  • Relationship management competencies include influence, leadership, developing others, communication, change catalyst, conflict management, building bonds, and teamwork and collaboration.

To develop your emotional intelligence in the workplace you must be willing to openly and honestly reflect on your own performance and behavior. Your long-term success relies on you making this an iterative process throughout your career.

The four competencies that make up emotional intelligence or EQ are shown in the diagram. Your development starts with your ‘self-awareness’ and moves around the segments in a clockwise direction.

Emotional intelligence in the workplaceThis is an iterative process throughout your whole career. It is only by constantly reviewing your level of each EQ competency that you will attain the recognition and reward you aspire to. The way you achieve this by using a simple technique called the ‘reflective cycle’.

What happened?

This involves asking yourself a series of questions that focus on your emotional state during a specific incident to assess how appropriate your emotions were at that time.

First you look at the dynamics that were at play during the event. Then you look at how you felt and acted during that time. Finally you define how your own emotions may have impacted the outcome and the responses of others.

  • How did you feel about the event as it unfolded?
  • What emotions did you display during the event?
  • What emotions did the other party show?

Having established the emotional state of all parties throughout the event you then need to assess whether your own emotions and behavior affected the outcome. If you decide that they did, then you need to understand how your emotions altered the situation. And whether this was for the better or not.

  • Did you cause heightened emotions in the other party?
  • Did your emotions exacerbate the situation?
  • Did you try to anticipate potential emotional reactions?
  • Did you prepare or think how you might respond?
  • Did your emotions divert your focus from the objective?

Armed with this information you can then judge to what extent you:

  1. Caused more heightened emotions in the other party?
  2. Tried to anticipate potential emotional reactions?
  3. Prepared or thought about how you might respond?

You’ll also be able to assess the extent to which your emotions exacerbate the situation. Also to what degree your emotions diverted your focus from the objective?

What would you alter?

With this information you can assess the level impact your emotions had on the incident. You can then determine how best to alter your behavior to attain the required objective or accomplish a task more easily.

You achieve this by asking four simple questions:

  • What did I do well? Should I have done more of this?
  • How can I improve my control over my emotions?
  • How well did I recognize the emotions of others?
  • What changes to my behavior would improve the situation or outcome?

From this list you will identify any common themes in your answers and prioritize how best to address them.

How to change?

Finally you create an action plan that equips you to manage your emotions appropriately in future situations.

Your plan must clearly define your objective, detail the specific tasks you will undertake and the timeframe for each task. It is essential to include regular opportunities to review your progress and to revise any aspect of the action plan as needed.

Your success depends on being very specific when defining your objective and focusing on the short-term. Remember you should see this as cyclical process that identifies your areas for development.

The further along you are in your EQ development the greater focus your action plan will be on improving your social awareness and relationship management. Using the reflective cycle technique will help you attain your desired level of EQ for your career path.

These free eBooks will help you to develop the emotional intelligence skills needed to build the professional relationships that are at the heart of both individual success and team productivity.

Understanding Emotional Intelligence eBook
This eBook explains emotionally intelligent leadership, an idea that is now used routinely in almost all businesses and professional training programs.
ISBN 978-1-62620-967-1 (50 Pages) PDF, Kindle & ePub

Developing Emotional Intelligence eBook
This eBook will help you to develop your own and your team’s collaborative working skills.
ISBN 978-1-62620-969-5 (57 Pages) PDF, Kindle & ePub

Measuring Emotional Intelligence eBook
This eBook explains how you can measure emotional intelligence, something that can help you to decide which aspects of it offer the most opportunity for improvement.
ISBN 978-1-62620-968-8 (26 Pages) PDF, Kindle & ePub

Key Points

  • Emotional intelligence can be defined as ‘Understanding one’s own feelings, empathy for the feelings of others and the regulation of emotion in a way that enhances living.’
  • Not everyone agrees with Goleman’s model of emotional intelligence, but there is general agreement that emotional intelligence exists, that it is a factor in personal and professional success, and that it can be improved.
  • Goleman’s model is the most widely used when discussing EQ in the context of the workplace. This model describes EQ in terms of five domains that are split into four quadrants.
  • Two of the domains are related to personal competence and two are related to social competence.
  • You must be willing to examine your own behavior honestly and objectively if you want to increase your own emotional intelligence in the workplace.
  • The reflective cycle technique is a six-stage process that can help you to develop your EQ.

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