“There are certain emotions that will kill your drive; frustration and confusion. You can change these to a positive force. Frustration means you are on the verge of a breakthrough. Confusion can mean you are about to learn something. Expect the breakthrough and expect to learn.” “— Kathleen Spike
In the modern workplace characterized by open communication and teamwork, a leader must understand their followers and know how to motivate them properly. That’s why the business world has been paying an increased attention to “emotional intelligence”, a term first coined in the 1960s by researchers Peter Salovey and John Mayer.
A 2016 report by the World Economic Forum called The Future of Jobs anticipated that emotional intelligence (EQ) will become one of the top 10 skills demanded in the workforce by 2020. This soft skill, although so important to personal and professional success, has failed to be discussed appropriately and expansively. The results it provides are essential to adapting and thriving critically in life. It has had different names – from ‘social intelligence’ to ‘emotional strength’ – but its importance has always been undeniable. In fact, some research states that Emotional Intelligence is responsible for 58% of your job performance and that 90% of top performers have a high EQ. So what is it? And why is Emotional Intelligence important in the workplace?
What is Emotional Intelligence?
According to The Future of Jobs, emotional intelligence is defined as “being aware of others’ reaction and understanding why they react as they do.” Also, it’s the ability to identify and manage own emotions. There are five crucial skills related to emotional intelligence which includes:
Emotional Intelligence isn’t quite as quantifiable as its pal Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Therein lies the first problem – it can’t be supported with data in quite the same way as IQ. As a result of school onwards and into our workplaces, IQ has traditionally been easier to measure and therefore carried more weight.
The 10 reasons why this is considered an important life skill are:
1. Being a good leader:
“A leader’s intelligence has to have a strong emotional component. He/she has to have high levels of self-awareness, maturity and self-control.”
In terms of businesses, emotional intelligence can impact the everyday decisions they make, including hiring, promoting, leading, and firing. On the other hand, in terms of personal success, a leader possessing emotional intelligence knows how to handle failures, motivate followers, and maintain self-control in critical situations. Professionals and leaders who are masters of their EQ can create productive and positive work environments. They can navigate tricky situations and, ultimately, bring about better results and increase their success in the organization.
2. Impact on employee performance:
There are many ways in which emotional intelligence influences performance of employees, and the evidence of that influence is well-known. For example, business scholars have conducted a number of studies probing the topic and here’s what they found.
Earlier studies like this one from CareerBuilder found that 71 percent of employers (HR professionals and hiring managers) viewed emotional intelligence more important than IQ. When asked why they thought that way, employees with high EI:
- Admit and learn from their mistakes
- Possess excellent conflict resolution skills
- Are more likely to remain calm under pressure
- Tend to make more thought-out business decisions
- Take criticism well
- Keep emotions in check
3. To make thorough and thoughtful decisions:
Because of their ability to see things clearly from another’s point of view, highly emotionally intelligent people are able to make better judgements about how their decisions will impact others. Not only does this result in better decision making overall, but it also helps manage damage control when certain decisions lead to negative consequences. Being able to judge the outcomes of their choices lets highly emotionally intelligent people behave more proactively.
People who show an enhanced ability to adapt to change, manage their emotions, and work well with a diverse range of people are already valuable in most workplaces. But with the rates of change and pressures in the workplace rising, they’ll become even more sought after than ever.
4. Importance of EI in schools:
Students with higher levels of emotional intelligence are able to better manage themselves and relate to others around them. This can help them develop improved self-motivation and more effective communication skills—essential skills for helping students become more confident learners.
On the other hand, students who lack emotional intelligence can become less connected to school, negatively affecting performance in the classroom.
Improving emotional intelligence in children can help them:
- Improve self-awareness
- Manage stress
- Boost self-motivation
- Build empathy
- Make good decisions
- Communicate effectively
- Develop relationships
5. Work and Life blending:
Not only are emotions finding their way into work, but workers want it more. A pervasive myth exists that emotions don’t belong at work, and this often leads us to mistakenly equate professionalism with being stoic or cold.
The boundaries between work and life continue to blur. People are bringing more work home, and more personal life is spilling into work. Try as we might, we cannot flip a switch and leave our pain, joy, sorrow, and excitement at the office door. Emotions travel with us.
6. Generation Z demands it:
Companies are struggling to adapt to the evolving emotional needs of their workforce. This is especially true among the emerging generations as 18-to-25-year-olds have the highest prevalence of serious mental illness compared to other age groups, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Additionally, Gen Z is the loneliest generation in the workplace with 73 percent reporting sometimes or always feeling alone.
It’s not surprising then that more than any other generation, Gen Z wants their managers to be empathetic, according to The Center for Generational Kinetics’ 2020 study, Solving the Remote Work Challenge Across Generations.
If the youth is the future, and Gen Z are lonely and psychologically stressed then the future of work must be emotional intelligence.
7. People will trust and connect with you better:
Being authentic, taking time for your people will allow you to be a more credible person. In less than a second, we are able to assess whether we trust someone. The trust we know is the starting point for effective conversations and relationships. We are wired to connect with others as many neuroscientists and authors have told us, but we often sabotage ourselves and others for some of the above reasons and we don’t take the time to connect with people.
People often have certain expectations from their near ones like:
1) They want to feel they have a seat at the special table,
2) Their opinions count and
3) They are acknowledged for the good work they do, to name a few of the engagement
Focusing on your EI can help you build strong and committed relationships.
8. Conflict Resolution:
When we can discern people’s emotions and empathize with their perspective, it’s much easier to resolve conflicts or possibly avoid them before they start. We are also better at negotiation due to the very nature of our ability to understand the needs and desires of others. It’s easier to give people what they want if we can perceive what it is.
9. Helps in maintaining good physical health:
The ability to take care of our bodies and especially to manage our stress, which has an incredible impact on our overall wellness, is heavily tied to our emotional intelligence. Only by being aware of our emotional state and our reactions to stress in our lives can we hope to manage stress and maintain good health.
Higher emotional intelligence helps us to be stronger internal motivators, which can reduce procrastination, increase self-confidence, and improve our ability to focus on a goal.
It also allows us to create better networks of support, overcome setbacks, and persevere with a more resilient outlook. Our ability to delay gratification and see the long-term directly affects our ability to succeed.”It is important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head – it is the unique intersection of both.”
Emotional intelligence can be learned, it’s a lifetime process. It’s never too late to learn anything, it just takes continuous observation and practice. So no matter how old you are, you can still take up EI and make the rest of your life better and happier.
Our emotions have to be as educated as our intellect. It is important to know how to feel, how to respond, and to know how to let life in so that it can touch you.