Understanding Emotional Intelligence in the workplace

Courtney Wright, our Inclusion and Diversity Consultant, explores what emotional intelligence is and why it matters in the workplace.

Keep reading to learn more and explore how Inclusive Employers can help.

Interest in Emotional Intelligence in the workplace has grown over recent years, due to the increased focus on inclusion and wellbeing within organisations.

Emotional Intelligence underpins a lot of the work in these areas; it can help us learn about ourselves and others, build stronger relationships and achieve our personal and professional goals together.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence is essentially a set of skills that enable us to use emotional information in a meaningful and impactful way. It’s about being able to notice and understand emotions in order to manage them – both within ourselves, and others around us too.

Why is Emotional Intelligence so important?

So much of how we feel is conveyed not through direct explanation, but through other cues which can be either verbal or nonverbal.

The importance of Emotional Intelligence is huge as it allows us to understand what is left unsaid, helping us to empathise and build relationships with others.

Being able to process our own emotions in a healthy way can positively influence our own wellbeing too. If we can recognise when we are feeling negative emotions and find healthy coping mechanisms, we will reduce the impacts on our mental health and physical strain on ourselves.

Are there different levels of Emotional Intelligence?

Like inclusion, Emotional Intelligence is a journey, and there’s always more we can learn once we’re further along the path.

Parts of this journey may feel more natural to some than others, but at each stage we are all able to develop and enhance these skills further.

The 5 different levels of Emotional Intelligence are:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Internal (or intrinsic) motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

Emotional Intelligence examples

Here are some examples of where we might practice Emotional Intelligence in our daily lives:

  • When losing an award, congratulating the person who won, even though you are disappointed.
  • Recognising that a friend is sad because of their changed behaviour, even though they haven’t explicitly told you.
  • Accepting constructive criticism following a mistake, and recognising it’s about the work and not you as a person.

Why does Emotional Intelligence matter in the workplace?

Using Emotional Intelligence in the workplace brings many advantages – for both achieving organisational goals and creating a positive employee experience.

Creating better understanding between employees helps build stronger bonds within teams and creates a sense of psychological safety.

If people feel they are truly listened to and understood, they are more likely to share ideas and give feedback.

This helps teams to communicate with each other more effectively, and helps people adapt and adjust to change.

Why managers need Emotional Intelligence

Not only do we need Emotional Intelligence within our teams, but we also need to see this demonstrated through leadership.

Effective leaders will understand how their displays of emotion may impact and influence their teams and will be able to control their reactions in order to positively influence the group.

We see the importance of Emotional Intelligence in performance management too. If we approach an employee discussion around under performance with a mindset of trying to understand how they feel about it, we are more likely to get to the cause of the issue and be able to effectively address it.

Empathy goes a long way, and there may be underlying factors which are either personal or professional that can be talked through. Find out how Inclusion Passports can be used to support these conversations.

During our working lives there is likely to be conflict, and an effective manager needs to be able to balance their team’s emotions.

Understanding and recognising that different people will have different views on things is crucial to diffusing conflict in a way that brings trust between a group.

An effective leader will make decisions that take this into account and take time to reflect on the emotional effects decisions may have on their workforce.

How Inclusive Employers can help with Emotional Intelligence training for employees

Here at Inclusive Employers, we can help support you Emotional Intelligence skills and provide training for your employees.

If you’re one of our members, have a chat with your account manager about what this might look like for your organisation. If not, please fill out our training enquiries form to help us help you.

To find out more, why not check out our Emotional Intelligence factsheet which includes our tips for improving emotional intelligence in your workplace. Or come along to our webinar to learn more about Emotional Intelligence and how to embed it into teams and organisational culture.